It may come as a surprise to some readers that Tom Jones has been formally inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Many readers will be aware of the fact that Tom has had a long standing interest in the squared circle...except in this instance we aren't talking about the famous singer, but a lesser known Welsh namesake, who was actually added to the famous Boxing Hall of Fame back in 2010. He may not be as familiar to boxing fans as other Welsh inductees, which include Joe Calzaghe and 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll, but Tom 'Paddington' Jones was one of the greatest fighters of his day.
Tom 'Paddington' Jones is said to have been born on November 18, 1771 in Montgomeryshire to Welsh parents, and was taken to London as a child. His parents settled in the area of Paddington, which in time earned the youngster the nickname of 'Paddington' Jones. Jones was little more than a boy when he fought a man named Ned Holmes at Paddington fields, which ended in defeat for the Welshman. It was to be the only time that the fist of Paddington Jones wasn't raised in victory until 1799 when he battled valiantly but ultimately in vain against a youthful fighting phenomenon named Jem Belcher.
In the days of Paddington Jones, before the adoption of boxing gloves, fights within the 'prize ring' were bare-knuckle battles, and there can be no doubt that as a knuckle fighter, Jones was amongst the cream of the crop. No less an authority than the celebrated Pierce Egan commented, "Paddington Jones has fought more battles than any other pugilist now in existence...for seven years VICTORY crowned all his attempts". It is said that the number of opponents he met and defeated exceeded three figures.
With the boxing career of Paddington Jones having been so closely associated with his stomping ground of Paddington, London, it is perhaps unsurprising that even within the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where Jones is listed in the boxing 'Pioneers' category he is incorrectly recorded as having been born in Paddington, and not Montgomeryshire, Wales. A new hardback book by Welsh boxing historian Lawrence Davies entitled 'The Story of Welsh Boxing, Prize Fighters of Wales' published by Pitch Publishing finally places him alongside the more famous inductees of the IBHOF, and gives the fullest published account of the Welshman's impressive pugilistic career to date.
The cover features a striking illustration of Paddington Jones landing a punch on one of his well known opponents, Isaac Bitton, who was featured in the BBC programme 'Who Do You Think You Are?' exploring the ancestry of award winning Eastenders actress June Brown in 2012, who discovered that her great great great grandfather was the once famous Isaac Bitton.
'The Story of Welsh Boxing' will be published on June 1, 2019, and contains accounts of the careers of the most prominent Welsh fighters from the period 1700-1830. The majority of the boxers within the book have never been recorded in any book of Welsh boxing history, and include such forgotten ring heroes as Jack Rasher, known as 'Ironface', John Thomas of Merthyr, who claimed to be the 'Welsh Champion', The notorious fighting brothers known as the 'Welsh Savages', and the first ever published account of the career of William Charles of Newport, deemed the 'Champion of Wales' by 1828, as well as many more boxers that have been rescued from the mists of time.
Thanks to the exhaustive research of Lawrence Davies, Paddington Jones can now finally take his place alongside the other great Welsh boxers to have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and we can celebrate another fighting 'Welsh Wizard' and add him to the lists of great sporting Welshmen nine years after his induction.
The Story of Welsh Boxing is released on June 1, 2019, and is available from Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, and other bookshops. Read more about the book at: The Story of Welsh Boxing