Born 8 April 1880 at his mother's home in Glynarthen, Ceredigion, and brought up at Carncelyn Farm, Pen-y-graig, Rhondda, Glamorganshire. He started his boxing career in the hard way, touring in a boxing booth with Jim Driscoll and Freddie Welsh (F. H. Thomas). His main training took the form of bare-back horse-riding which he did over the mountains above Pen-y-graig, and it was in this way that he prepared for most of his contests. Thomas avoided the limelight and lived a detached life. He saved every penny of his ring earnings and even fought with a bull called ' Billy One-Horn,' thus saving himself the expense of paying for sparring partners.
After winning the heavy-weight championship of the Rhondda Valley, Thomas went to London and took part in a National Sporting Club middleweight competition which he won. Four more victories in London were gained in 1899. But his first important contest was in May 1906 when he met and defeated the Irishman Pat O'Keefe in what was virtually a championship contest. When the first Lonsdale Belt was put for the middle-weight class in 1909, Thomas was matched against Charlie Wilson, whom he defeated in two rounds, and thus became the first holder of the Lonsdale Belt in the middleweight class.
He died 13 August 1911 at Carncelyn from cardiac failure following pneumonia.
Published date: 1959
Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/
The Dictionary of Welsh Biography is provided by The National Library of Wales and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. It is free to use and does not receive grant support. A donation would help us maintain and improve the site so that we can continue to acknowledge Welsh men and women who have made notable contributions to life in Wales and beyond.
Find out more on our sponsorship page.