1897-12-06 (108lbs) Jimmy Barry w co 20 (20) Walter Croot, NSC, Covent Garden, London, England
1897-12-06 (108lbs) Jimmy Barry w co 20 (20) Walter Croot, NSC, Covent Garden, London, England. Referee: Bernard J. Angle. Billed for the world 108lbs title, with both men inside, Croot was narrowly ahead after 19 rounds but instead of boxing his man off he elected to punch it out and was kayoed with just 35 seconds of the bout remaining. The finishing blow was a tremendous right to the jaw that followed several crippling body shots which had Croot in great pain. Prior to that, it had been a contest of great skill, with Croot’s clever boxing negating much of Barry’s extra power despite him being warned several times for low blows and holding.
Carried from the ring unconscious, Croot died the following day at 8.30am, and Barry, Angle, Thomas White, William Whatley, Arthur F. Bettinson and Richard Smith were bailed on the charge of manslaughter to appear at London’s Bow Street on 21 December. The hearing opened with Mr Sims, on behalf of the Public Prosecutor, stating with words to the effect that since the last hearing the depositions taken had been under the careful consideration of the Director of Public Prosecutions and he was unable to find in the evidence anything to show that the contest in question was in the nature of a prize fight. He was satisfied by the evidence that it was merely an exhibition of skill in boxing and there was no case to answer. Speaking on behalf of the defence, Mr Gill contended that skilful contests of this nature were perfectly legal, citing a statement by Mr Justice Cave, when he charged the grand jury in Birmingham, that a glove contest conducted under proper conditions was in no way illegal, and that the persons concerned in it could not be held responsible for any accident that might occur. He went on to say that there was a great deal of difference between such contests of skill as this and a prize fight. In the first instance the referee has the absolute power to stop the contest at any moment he thinks fit, whereas a prize fight, which was a fight to the finish for endurance, failed to allow an intervention by the referee unless agreed by both parties. Summing up, the Judge, Sir James Vaughan, said that he had looked upon this as a case of great gravity, but he should not be thinking of going in the teeth of the Public Prosecutor by saying that it should be committed for trial. Regardless of the defendants being discharged, Barry was totally disenchanted with boxing at that moment in time, stating that he would be thinking long and hard about resuming his career, if at all.
Following Croot’s demise, Johnny Thomas (112) again laid claim to the English 108lbs title, but after being outpointed by George Slark over 20 rounds at the NSC on 28 March 1898 his claim disappeared, leaving Jack Walker as the leading 108lbs man in Britain.