SHOWMAN AND SPORTSTAR
The young Jem Mace (1856)
The Performance Artist
London, The Strand. 1856
Jem Mace, aged 25 and recently arrived from Norwich, takes the stage at a song and supper room. On violin, he performs his own composition 'The Cuckoo Song' and a popular medley including the gypsy ballad 'Black Jack Davey'. The audience demands an encore but Mace returns, stripped to the waist, performing his 'Grecian Statues' routine in which he displays his physique for feminine admirers. No one guesses the ruthless nature of his current employment.
The Circus Proprietor
Brighton, Sussex. 1862
Having broken into show business with black entrepreneur Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal, Mace is inspired by the flamboyant impresario 'Lord' George Sanger to form his own company. With musicians, acrobats and clowns he debuts at the south coast resort. Soon he will team up with leading circus publicity agent Harry Montague and it will be from the marriage of circus with boxing that the world of sport as spectacle will be born.
The All-round Athlete
London, Leicester Square. 1863
The 'Criterion Hall' is crowded out for the presentation to Mace of the Norwich Gold Cup by the 'mad lord' W.F. Windham. On display are all of Mace's trophies, including cups won for pedestrianism (professional running). His trainer had timed him at two minutes for the half mile. Training for his big fights by running 20 miles a day with top pedestrians, Mace combines two sports and makes roadwork the foundation of all boxers' training routine.
Mace the circus proprietor
A Pleasure Ground Proprietor
West Derby, Lancashire. 1866
Seeking to emulate London's Cremorne Gardens, Mace opens the Strawberry Grounds just outside what was then the Liverpool city boundary.
He provides a bowling green, racing grounds and landscaped public gardens, attracting large crowds from Merseyside and industrial Lancashire.
But, when Mace goes to America, his successor wipes the Strawberry Grounds off the map of Liverpool with a shocking development.
Victory Parade
Liverpool. 1866
Returning to the city from a crushing victory in his third clash with Joe Goss, Mace is greeted by a crowd of 10,000 at Lime Street Station. What follows will underline his status as a self-made toff and working class hero.
An Englishman in New York
Broadway Stage Star
New York. 1870
The first sportsman to take to the stage, Mace has a starring role in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' at Niblo's Gardens on Broadway.
Mace's attire, as he strolls down the world-famous thoroughfare, will mark him out as a fashion icon of the era..
An Adventurer in Australia
Melbourne. 1881
Having made a fortune in Australia, Mace is ensconced in his own luxury hotel. He races his horses in the Melbourne Cup and teams up with John Christie-'Australia's Sherlock Holmes'- to bring his own version of law and order to the streets of Melbourne. But the Victorian police are not amused. Their surprise raid on his premises will have dire consequences for Mace.
Mobbed by Crowds
U.S.A. 1883
Mace's special train takes him from California to New York and, in the misguided belief that, at 51, he will challenge the drunken wife- beater John L. Sullivan -- a man half his age -- for the world title that was once his, a crowd of thousands at Washington and Philadelphia greets him, whilst, at Baltimore, the police are forced to take unprecedented measures to ensure his safety from a horde of well-wishers.
The Coronation Tournament
London, Royal Albert Hall. 1902
Inspired by Charles Melly's Liverpool Olympics in the 1860's, Mace has promoted the ideal of the commonality of all individual sports, giving shows combining boxing with wrestling, fencing, running, cycling and gymnastics. Throughout the English-speaking world, from Titusville to Timaru, he has combined these shows with musical performances.
Now, in a prestigious concert hall, he plays his part in the National Sporting Club's multi-sport tournament to celebrate the accession of a new monarch.
Jem Mace (1909)
Swansong of an Entertainer
Newcastle. 1910
At St. James's Hall, the 79-year-old Jem Mace, his once splendid health finally giving way, performs on violin to a large cheering crowd. But, behind the facade, a lifelong weakness has left him desperate for cash and taking drastic measures to acquire it.