Journal of Combative Sport, Nov 2007
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Death under the Spotlight:
The Manuel Velazquez Boxing Fatality Collection

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Edward Wilmot (?-1866)

Text copyright © EJMAS 2007. All rights reserved. Please submit additions or corrections to Joseph Svinth at


Fatal bout: October 9, 1866
Date of death: October 9, 1866
Cause of death: Rupture of an artery on the right side of the brain

The bout was with gloves. The venue was Shaw’s, in Windmill-street, Haymarket, where the bouts took place in an upstairs room. Because prizefighting was illegal in Britain, the match was advertised as a “protracted sparring match.” Although there were just six rounds, the two men fought for about an hour. In the end, Wilmot either fell or was knocked down. As he fell, he struck his head against a post that was in the center of the ring. When he got up, he said did not feel well, so his second stopped the fight. Wilmot then went to the hospital, where he died five hours later. Cause of death was a rupture of an artery on the right side of the brain.

The subsequent court case, Regina v. Young and others, (1866) 10 Cox 371, established the legal precedent that death “caused by an injury received in a friendly sparring match, which is not a thing likely to cause death... is not manslaughter, unless the parties fight on until the sport becomes dangerous” (Roscoe, 1888, 912).

Also, because the bout took place in private rooms rather than outdoors, the ruling meant that indoor sparring matches would not be considered a public nuisance. There had been cases of fence-breaking and illegal timber removal during earlier outdoor prizefights, and after 1860, most British railway companies refused to hire special trains for prizefight excursions. Indeed, the practice of hiring special prizefight trains was specifically prohibited by the Regulation of Railways Act of 1868: “Any railway company that shall knowingly let for hire any special train for the purpose of conveying parties to be present at any prize fight... shall be liable to a penalty... of such sum not exceeding five hundred pounds, and not less than two hundred pounds” (Godefroi and Shortt, 1869, 526).

Sources: London Times, October 30, 1866; London Times, November 3, 1866; Edward W. Cox, Reports of Cases in Criminal Law... volume X, 1864-1867 (London: Law Times Office, 1868), 371-373; Charles Dickens, All the Year Round, volume 20 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1868), 379; Henry Roscoe, Roscoe’s Digest of the Law of Evidence in Criminal Cases, Eighth American Edition, volume II (Philadelphia: T. & J.W. Johnson, 1888); Montagu Stephen Williams, Leaves of A Life; Being the Reminiscences of Montagu Williams, Q.C. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1890), 220-223; Henry Godefroi and John Shortt, The Law of Railway Companies, Comprising the Companies Clauses (London: Stevens and Haynes, 1869), 526.

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JCS Nov 2007