This film is part of Free

When Giants Fought

A bruising fight in black and white sets the tone for conflicts to come.

Sport 1926 31 mins Silent


Against the backdrop of a love story, this exciting, well-constructed and unusual film tells the true and little-known tale of the deep cultural impact of the arrival of a black contender for Britain's heavyweight bare-knuckle boxing title in 1810. Playing the role of Tom Molineaux, the former slave cheated of his victory, Frank Craig enjoys an unexpectedly dignified role for a black actor in the 1920s.

Tom Molineaux first fought Tom Cribb in December 1810. This was the first occasion that a national title had been contested by a black man. Boxing, previously seen as the sport which best represented the virtues of British masculinity, would face an increasing number of black challengers in the decades to come. Tom Cribb became a national hero and the pub he owned off Leicester Square still bears his name, while Tom Molineaux died in poverty and obscurity in Ireland in 1818.