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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 16:49 GMT
No bids for 'Mighty Atom' picture
A Welsh Victory at the National Sporting Club - Pic courtesy of BONHAMS
The painting was expected to sell for 150,000
A painting of one of Wales' greatest boxers,'Mighty Atom' Jimmy Wilde, has failed to sell under the auctioneers' hammer.

Auctioneers had valued the the painting of the first official world flyweight champion at 150,000, but no bidders came forward at the London sale.

The work by William Howard Robinson is owned by one of the boxer's family.

Jimmy Wilde, from Rhondda, south Wales won the world championship in 1916 at the age of 24.

Known alternatively as the Mighty Atom, the Tylorstown Terror, and the Ghost With A Hammer In His Hand, Wilde led a colourful boxing career.

Born into a coal mining family in Quakers Yard, Merthyr Tydfil in May 1892, he moved to nearby Tylorstown six years later where he began work as a pit boy.

At 16 and weighing just 74 pounds, he started his boxing career, fighting in boxing booths and miners' clubs around south Wales.

Although many of his contests remain unrecorded, he is believed to have fought between 500 and 1,000 opponents during his career.

Jimmy Wilde standing in front of the picture - pic courtesy of BONHAMS
Jimmy Wilde died in 1969 after a distinguished career in the ring

But most significant bout was in 1916, when he defeated Young Zulu Kid of America to become the first officially recognised World Flyweight Champion.

The painting under the hammer at Bonhams in London - A Welsh Victory at the National Sporting Club - features another of his momentous moments in the ring.

Wartime service as a sergeant instructor in the Army interrupted Wilde's boxing career, but he returned to the ring after the war to fight Joe Lynch, an Irish-American.

Standing at just over 5 ft and weighing in at 100 lb, Wilde emerged victorious after a bruising 15-round fight with the American at The National Sporting Club on 31 March 1919.

Outside the club in Covent Garden Piazza, a crowd of many thousands stood in the rain to hear the result and squadrons of police encircled the building.

Interest

A ringside critic at the time said: "It was one of the most wonderful battles ever decided in the historic club, and undoubtedly the greatest seen between the little men."

The painting, which also marks the first occasion that Royalty - in the shape of the then Prince of Wales - officially entered the boxing ring, was presented to Wilde on his victory.

Wilde retired in 1923 after losing his world title to Filipino fighter Pancho Villa in New York. He died in 1969.

Before the sale a spokeswoman for auctioneers Bonhams said there had already been a lot of interest in the painting - particularly from the boxing fraternity and from Wales.

"This is an important piece showing a piece of sporting history," she said.

But with no buyer emerging the firm will now go back to the owner of the painting to see if a private sale is possible.




SEE ALSO:
Crowds remember boxing legend
02 Nov 02  |  Wales
Statue honour for tragic boxer
01 Nov 02  |  Wales


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