The gloves of the man who hit hard

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These are the gloves of The Freckled Wonder.
You may know him as Bob Fitzsimmons, the British professional boxer – who settled in Timaru as a blacksmith – who made boxing history as the sport’s first threedivision world champion.
They were in Ashburton as part of the Heritage Education Service’s lesson at Ashburton Museum on the Olympics and sporting greats – past and present.
Educators Ruth Gardiner and Wendy Hurst, based at South Canterbury Museum in Timaru, brought an array of Olympic clothing, including some of the gear worn by Timaru Olympic cycling star Marc Ryan, and also some of the gear worn by his father, also a champion cyclist.
Children from Ashburton Borough School learnt how sport has changed since the early 1900s, when tennis players wore long whites and archers used wooden bows, to the modern day of carbonfibre boats and bows, hitech swimming gear and vastly different athletic styles.
There was also a history lesson, with the children finding out that the first two Kiwis to compete at the Olympics were part of an Australasian team of 1908, and that five Kiwis formed the first solely New Zealand team at Antwerp in 1920.
And there were Bob Fitzsimmons’s gloves, which no-one was allowed to touch.
Fitzsimmons was born in Cornwall in 1863 and emigrated to New Zealand with his family when he was nine.
The family settled in Timaru.
Bob became a blacksmith in brother Jarrett’s smithy.
Between 1880 and 1881 Fitzsimmons – also known as Ruby Robert and The Freckled Wonder – reigned as New Zealand champion.
He had six fights in New Zealand, two of them bare-knuckle fights.
As a boxer he was strong and cagey, fighting with short, conclusive punches.
He won world middleweight, heavyweight and light heavyweight titles and died in Chicago of pneumonia in 1917.
He had a record of 66 wins, 59 by knockout, eight losses, four draws and 19 no contests and two no decisions.