The Ghost of the Bare Knuckle Fighter – Bendigo Thompson -Nottingham

This particular ghost story somewhat makes me smile and is probably a ghost you would not want to get on the wrong side of on a Friday or Saturday Night.

It also is a bit of a strange one for me because my great-grandad was a bare-knuckle fighter in Nottingham and the odds he actually had a paid fight with this gentleman is quite high, but is something ill never truly know.

William Abednego Thompson also known as Bendigo Thompson was illiterate and came from a poor background where opportunities lacked. He was the youngest of triplets and was the youngest of 21 children which shows his Mother must have been a strong woman, a gene which was no doubt passed on to young William.

When he was 15 his father died and William was sent to the Nottingham Workhouse with his mother. After leaving the workhouse Bendigo had numerous jobs. However, in 1811 Bendigo became a prizefighter and a household name.

Bendigo became an All England Champion but he also became a celebrity as a raconteur. He would goad his opponents with insults spoken in what can only be described as an early form of rap. This charismatic personality that he brought to the sport made him the Mohammed Ali of his day.

Unfortunately, Bendigo life took a tragic turn and he became a heavy drinker which lead to numerous arrests and lead to 28 imprisonments. He then went on to be a avid church goer and preacher. Sadly, He died in 1880 after falling down the stairs. The fall fractured ribs and punctured his lung but he hung on for seven more weeks before he finally died. His funeral procession was a mile long and thousands lined the streets, including many nationally famous people of the period. 

He was buried in his mother’s grave, marked by a stone in the former burial grounds at St Marys Rest Garden in St Anns. His memorial stone is of a lion and the inscription reads

“In life always brave,

Fighting like a Lion;

In Death like a Lamb,

Tranquil in Zion”.

Bendigos Ghost

Benidigos Ghost has been sighted in two places. The first being within the Bestwood estate in what is known as Benidigos ring. It is said his ghost often torments children to scare them away from the ring.

The second is his grave site and this is what makes me smile. He is said to guard his memorial and has often been sighted running around the local area.

If anyone reading this knows St Anns in Nottingham – it is a area where graves may tend to fall victim to vandalism. So it’s no surprise he would be guarding it. I can only imagine what would occur if anyone dare to press any kind of finger on it and personally I would love to know the back story of those who have sighted him next to his grave….

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: