The Boxer/Grave Robber

By Robert Ecksel on August 11, 2013
The Boxer/Grave Robber
That's a far cry from resurrecting dead souls, and an even a further cry from boxing.

I sometimes read boxing books, or reread boxing books. But I like to read about subjects far removed from the sweet science…

To Examine the cause of life,
we must have recourse to death.

(Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”)

Those rare moments when I’m not knee-deep in boxing, I like to engage in something different. For some, that’s an excuse to tweet from dusk to dawn. For others, it’s an excuse to read.

I sometimes read boxing books, or reread boxing books. But I like, as a rule, to read about subjects far removed from the sweet science.

Currently I’m reading “The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece” by Roseanne Montillio. It is not a best-seller, which is a fair indication, in my opinion, that it might actually be of worth.

The book explores in grisly detail the scientific/medical environment in 19th century Europe, when reanimation seemed, at least to some, a real possibility. Reading about raising the dead might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s why there are soft drinks.

In Chapter 3, Making Monsters, the author digs deep into the subject of grave robbing in England in the early 1800s. However ghoulish that may sound, it wasn’t about boxing and for that I was grateful.

My gratitude, however, was short-lived. On the sixth page of the chapter I came across this unexpected morsel:

Ben Crouch was the leader of the most famous gang in that period. He was foul-mouthed former pugilist whose physical strength was an asset when it came to digging out corpses but also to bullying others intending to enter the business. He was also a crook who would wait until his mates were drunk before dividing the take. With the advantage of sobriety, he managed to keep a larger share of the profit without anyone being able to tell. If someone pointed out that fact, the muscular Crouch didn’t waste as minute but carefully landed a bejeweled fist (he was fond of wearing thick rings and bracelets) over the opponent’s mouth, as if engaged in one of his former fights.

I wasn’t aware of Ben Crouch. BoxRec, usually so reliable, was of no help whatsoever. Even Google, for which no subject is too obscure, had next to nothing on the aforesaid boxer/grave robber. But after some searching I learned that Ben Crouch’s Tavern in London closed its doors in 2009, only to reopen as The Adam & Eve. Instead of a saloon festooned with “ersatz gothic décor”—gargoyles, cobwebs, derelict lab equipment, cabinets of curiosities—plus videos of Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi—the former Ben Crouch’s Tavern had been transformed into a “gastropub offering a relaxed, home from home environment.”

That’s a far cry from resurrecting dead souls, and an even further cry from the fight game.

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:20pm, 08/11/2013

    Times have changed….day in and day out I see good looking women walking hand in hand with creatures every bit as “handsome” as Lon Chaney was as the Phantom….it’s called the “new normal”.

  2. Clarence George 05:07pm, 08/11/2013

    Just want to tip my hat to the superb Dwight Frye (Fritz—not Igor!—in “Frankenstein” and Renfield in “Dracula”).

    By the way, Colin Clive’s “In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God” was only recently restored.

  3. Lee 02:50pm, 08/11/2013

    The timing of the article does seem rather judicious does it not…?

  4. Mike Casey 07:53am, 08/11/2013

    Ooh, that’s rather clever, Lee!

  5. Lee 07:46am, 08/11/2013

    Is this article your roundabout way of saying that Deontay Wilder needs to step it up a ‘tad’ Robert?

  6. Mike Casey 07:32am, 08/11/2013

    One does wonder where the Adam & Eve gets its food from. A sudden cry of, “I don’t Adam & Eve it!” from one of the patrons might lead to a quite horrific story about the pub’s suppliers. (Cockney rhyming slang for “I don’t believe it!”)

  7. Clarence George 06:27am, 08/11/2013

    A little gem, Robert, that speaks to my fascination with murder and all things grisly.

    I trust you’ve seen “The Body Snatcher,” with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Henry Daniell, based on the Burke and Hare case:

    Up the close and doun the stair,
    But and ben wi’ Burke and Hare.
    Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
    Knox the boy that buys the beef.

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