> Folk Music > Songs > Bold Robinson / Two Champions

Bold Robinson / Two Champions

[ Roud 2411 ; Ballad Index ReSh018 ; VWML AW/2/124 , CJS2/10/1089 ; Wiltshire 73 ; trad.]

Frank Purslow sang Bold Robinson, a song about a fictuous deadly boxing match, on the 1960 HMV album A Jug of Punch, which was recorded by Peter Kennedy at Cecil Sharp House.

Dave and Toni Arthur sang Bold Robinson in 1967 on their Transatlantic album Morning Stands on Tiptoe. They noted:

The original laws governing prize fighting were laid down by several gentlemen at Broughton's Amphitheatre, Tottenham Court Road, on August 16, 1743. John Broughton was Champion of England from 1738 to 1750 when he fought Jack Slack on April 10 and had to retire after fourteen minutes blinded by swollen eyes. He was luckier than the two fighters mentioned in the song given here, for they both died at the end of the fight. This song was collected by Cecil Sharp from William Stokes at Chew Stoke in 1906, and is published in James Reeves' The Idiom of the People, page 87. Sharp also collected two other incomplete versions.

Tim Radford sang Young Taylor, Huzza in 2009 on his CD of “songs, toasts and recitations of a Hampshire gardener, 1829-1916, collected by Dr. George B. Gardiner”, George Blake's Legacy. He noted:

Gardiner mss. no. 299 from notebook no. 5 page 189, collected May 24, 1906 in St. Denys. This has a Roud Index no. 2411 and Gardiner did not collect another version of this song. There is a wonderful note in the Gardiner notebook regarding Blake’s version, and it reads:

Mr. Blake steadily sang—Young Taylor, Who Saw! His brother said this should be Huzza!

Gardiner goes on to say: “It appears that the correct title is Young Taylor, Huzza!” This must have been Moses Blake correcting his brother, but there is no indication that he himself also sang the song.

There is a similar song in James Reeves' book, The Idiom of the People on page 87 called Bold Robinson that was collected by Cecil Sharp in Chew Stoke, Somerset from William Stokes, with a different tune [VWML CJS2/10/1089] . Sharp collect two other fragments of the song also in Somerset. They are basically the same song, with a slightly different story. In Stokes' song, Robinson fights Tiley and although Tiley wins, he also later dies.

There is also a very similar version collected by Alfred Williams from Jasper Price from South Cerney, Gloucestershire [VWML AW/2/124] . A version of the broadside can also be found in The Axon Ballads no. 116 called Tyler and Robinson that mirrors the story in Blake’s version, but has an extra third verse.

In his book Room for Company Roy Palmer says: “In fact Robinson actually fought Tyler in 1856, resulting in a draw after sixteen rounds, or knockdowns, when the police broke it up, as boxing was illegal. Tyler died in 1858.”

There has always been a tradition or story in my family that a very old relative of my father was a Prizefighter. My father dimly remembered hearing from the family when he was a child that the old man would soak his hands in brine to toughen them up!

Paul and Liz Davenport included Two Champions in 2013 on their Hallamshire Traditions book of folk songs collected by R.A. Gatty in 1907-10, Down Yorkshire Lanes, and recorded it for their 2018 album Shadows in the Mist. They noted:

Collected from Mr Charles Drabble of Thrybergh in South Yorkshire by Reginald Gatty in 1907. The story is fiction but just such an event happened recently when boxer Scott Westgarth died three days after winning his match in Doncaster in February 2018. So, although the song remains fiction, there is truth lurking in there somewhere. These words are the most commonly noted for this relatively rare song but Alfred Williams had a longer set in which both fictitious battlers are killed.

The Dovetail Trio sang Bold Champions as the title track of their 2019 CD Bold Champions. Rosie Hood noted:

Alfred Williams collected Bold Champions from Jasper Price of South Cerney in around 1916 [VWML AW/2/124] . Williams evidently thought that the song told of a real fight noting “Not being particularly well read in the history of English sports I am unable to assign a date to the following though, perhaps some of our readers may recognise the circumstances related”

This video shows the Dovetail Trio at Red Lion Folk Club in June 2017:

Lyrics

Tim Radford sings Young Taylor, Huzza

Come all you young fellows that delights in a game,
Come listen to these lines, which lately have been penned.
It’s of two champions bold, fought for a sum of gold ,
In fair London town lived Young Taylor, Huzza,
In fair London town lived Young Taylor, Huzza.

The stage being built, the day being come
Each party true hearted and the battle went on.
For fifty score of guineas these two champions they did play.
And the cry was, “Robinson that he will win the day
And Young Taylor, Huzza: Young Taylor, Huzza.
Bold Robinson forever, and Young Taylor, Huzza.”

Then up spoke young Taylor, “I’m just in my bloom,
I’m willing to fight thee from morning till noon.”
Young Taylor on a sudden gave Robinson a blow
Saying, “I will be the champion where ever I do go.”
And Young Taylor, Huzza: Young Taylor, Huzza.
Bold Robinson forever, and Young Taylor, Huzza.

At the end of six rounds these two champions they did meet,
Being sadly wounded and their hearts being full of grief,
Bold Robinson he fell and expired with a groan,
The moment he died, Oh the battle it was won
And Young Taylor, Huzza: Young Taylor, Huzza.
Bold Robinson forever, and Young Taylor, Huzza.

So now to conclude, Young Taylor he has won.
A rich lady fell in love with him for what he had done.
And if he had recovered a grand wedding shall be seen.
But young Taylor he died at the end of day three.
The lady went in mourning for Taylor Huzza,
Bold Robinson forever, and Young Taylor, Huzza.

Two Champions in Down Yorkshire Lanes

Come all you young fellows that delight in a little game,
Come listen unto me and I will tell you plain.
It's of two champions bold who fought for a sum of gold
And their talk was that young Robinson was sure to win the day.

Chorus (after each verse):
Young Taylor, Huzzoo! Brave Taylor, Huzzoo!
Brave Robinson forever and young Taylor, Huzzoo!

Their stage it had been builded and the champions on the ground
And fifty bright guineas these champions did lay down.
For fifty bright guineas these champions they did play
And all the talk was Robinson was sure to win the day.

'Twas in the fourteenth round these two champions they did meet,
With their bodies sorely wounded and their breasts full of grief,
When all of a sudden Taylor gave Robinson a blow,
Say, “I will me the champion where ever I do go.”

The battle being over and young Taylor he had won,
A rich lady fell in love with him for what he had done.
And if he do recover a gay wedding shall be seen
But young Taylor he died at the end of the game.

The Dovetail Trio sing Bold Champions

Come, all you young men that delight in any game,
Come and listen to these few lines to you I will explain;
It's of two champions bold fought for a sum of gold,
And it was near London Town as I have been told.

Chorus (after each verse):
'Twas young Taylor, hurrah! 'Twas young Taylor, hurrah!
Bold Robinson for ever, and young Taylor, hurrah!

Now the drums and the trumpets most sweetly did sound,
And the horsemen they were mounted for to guard the ground;
The fight it was most noble, and young Taylor he did say,
“It never shall be said that to thee I give the day.”

Then up spoke bold Robinson, “The game it is my own,
And I can find his heart does tremble at my every blow;
Come, all you understanding men, I'll have you for to know,
That I will be the champion, wherever I do go.”

Then up spoke young Taylor, “I am just in my bloom,
I am willing for to fight thee from morning until noon.”
Young Taylor he then sprang, and gave bold Robinson a blow,
Saying, “I will be the champion wherever I do go.”

At the end of six rounds these champions did meet,
With their bodies sorely wounded, and their hearts so full of grief;
Bold Robinson he fell, without a sign or moan,
And from that moment when he died the battle it was won.

And now to conclude, when this young Taylor had won,
A rich lady fell in love with him for what he had done;
And if ever he recovers a grand wedding there shall be,
But young Taylor then he died at the end of days three.