‘It’s thirsty work burnin’ down castles’ - William Abednego Thompson (Just call us Bendigo).
Special power: Left hook
Comic Release Date: Nov 2014
William Abednego Thompson (1811 – 1880), better known as Bendigo, was born in Sneinton, Nottingham, the youngest of a set of triplets – named Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego after three Biblical characters who escaped the fires of Babylon – and youngest of an estimated 21 children born to a very poor family. His father died when he was 15 and he was sent to the Workhouse, later becoming an oyster-seller and factory iron-turner. He took up bare-knuckle prize-fighting to earn the money his family desperately needed, rose rapidly through the ranks due to his speed and agility, and quickly became a crowd favourite for his humour.
Like Mohammed Ali in the 1960s and 70s, Bendigo would make up rhymes and witty insults to unsettle his opponents and at his peak attracted crowds of more than 10,000 to his illegal fights, which could last for anything up to 96 rounds and were held in secret locations. A rivalry with the Hucknall boxer Ben Caunt provided a long-running drama, but by the time a younger generation had begun to challenge him he found his powers were on the wane and chose to retire as undefeated champion. He took up fishing, drinking (and allegedly rioting and Castle-burning with a political group called The Nottingham Lambs) before he found salvation in religion and ended his days as a preacher.
1: Bendigo isn’t only a shortening of Abednego, but evolved from an earlier nickname, ‘Bendy’, which referred to his bobbing and weaving moves when he was boxing.
2: Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, once wrote a rhyme about Bendigo:
You didn’t know of Bendigo?
Well that knocks me out!
Who’s your board schoolteacher?
What’s he been about?
Chock a block with fairy tales;
Full of useless cram,
And never heard of Bendigo
The Pride Of Nottingham!
3: A major city in the Australian State of Victoria is named after Bendigo. Not only is there a Bendigo Valley and a Bendigo Creek, but a Bendigo Bank and a Bendigo Stock Exchange.
4: The Australian city took its name from a shepherd, who occupied the land during the early years of a Gold Rush. He had been nicknamed Bendigo, after the boxer, because he was known locally as a bit of a fighter.
5: Bendigo was left-handed and once threw a house brick across the widest point on the Trent with his left hand to demonstrate his ‘southpaw’ strength.