John C. Heenan - Later Life

Later Life

Heenan did not remain long in America. Just a year after the battle at Farnborough, the country was torn apart by civil war, and the Benicia Boy returned to England in March 1862. There the following year, by which time the surge in public interest in the prize ring had subsided, he fought once more for the championship.

His opponent this time was Tom King, whom he was widely expected to beat. But after a strong start, Heenan faded, and King was victorious. The result was controversial: many observers agreed that King had been given longer than the rules allowed to recover from a knock-down in the eighteenth round, and Heenan claimed that his subsequent collapse occurred because he had been drugged.

He never fought again. In 1865 he returned to America, where he married actress Sarah Stevens, and had mixed success in the gambling business. Eight years later, he became seriously ill with tuberculosis. Quitting his New York home for the purer air of the west, he died at Green River Station, Wyoming Territory on 28 October 1873. His old manager, Jim Cusick, who was with him when he died, took his body back to New York for burial.

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