BELASCO, ABRAHAM (commonly called Aby Belasco):
English pugilist; born in London, England, April 9, 1797; died there. Belasco entered the prize-ring in 1817, when he defeated Cribb's "Coal-Heaver," a pugilist patronized by Tom Cribb, champion of England (1805-20). During that year he fought four other battles, in two of which he was defeated. In the first of these four—that took place at Woolwich, Kent—he met and defeated Josh Hudson after a two hours' battle. His next encounter—with Jack Payne—took place at Moulsey Heath, Surrey, April 3. It terminated in the sixteenth round. On July 23, at the same place, Belasco was defeated by Tom Reynolds, a potato-salesman, after fighting one hour and twenty minutes. He was again defeated—this time by Jack Randall—at Shepperton Range, Surrey, Sept. 30, in seven rounds. Soon thereafter Belasco accompanied Daniel Mendoza on an exhibition tour.
He returned to the ring at Rickmansworth, June 10, 1818, and was defeated in nine rounds by Cyrus Davis, a butcher's apprentice. Later in the year he defeated the Winchcomb champion in twelve minutes on the race-course at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; and Joe Townshend in twenty-four minutes at Coventry, Warwick, on Dec. 9. Belasco was matched against Phil. Sampson, Feb. 22, 1819, at Potter's street, Essex; but the fight terminated in a wrangle, and the stakes were awarded to Belasco.
On three other occasions he was matched against Sampson; and met and fought him in the first of these in London, Feb. 29, 1820, when, after nine rounds, the contestants were separated. Both the second fight—which occurred at the Tennis Court in Windmill street, London, on Dec. 21—and the third—Aug. 25, 1823, fought on Crawley Downs in Sussex—ended in the defeat of Belasco. Next Belasco was matched against Pat Halton, an Irishman. This encounter, which took place April 8, 1823, on Harpenden Common near St. Albans, Herts, was interrupted on a foul claimed against Belasco, who, it was said, had hit his opponent in the face with his knee as the latter went down in the eleventh round.
Not desiring to retire from the ring defeated, Belasco fought George Weston, May 25, 1824. Miles describes this encounter as a burlesque in which Weston was knocked all over the ring, surrendering after three rounds.
Shortly thereafter, Belasco retired from the prize-ring and opened a gambling-house. Step by step he sank lower in the social scale until, continually brought into conflict with the officers of the law, he lost all his friends, and died in almost abject poverty.
- Miles, Pugilistica, vols. i. and ii.;
- Egan, Boxiana;
- Belasco's portrait was painted by Sharpello and engraved by Cooper.