This is a picture of Jem’s colleague and pupil, Larry Foley, who went on to become the Australian Champion.
On 30 Nov Jem boxed an exhibition bout with Larry Foley at Mace’s Athletic Hall.
He promoted Foley v Newton at Mace’s Athletic Hall. He charged £1 admission and the boxers split the gate money. This was the first time this method of payment was used in Australia.
On 14 Dec 1878 Jem boxed an exhibition with Jack Thompson.
On a visit to Tasmania he bought a chestnut gelding steeplechaser called Express which won at the Hobart Cup with jockey Sam Floyd but was disqualified for going the wrong side of a flag. Express then won a hurdle race at Sydney with F Hill as jockey, but failed to win anything afterwards.
Jem found himself short of a manager for the Victoria Racing Club so he sold the Alma Road house and his “superior furniture and effects” were auctioned without reserve on 27 Jan 1879. He and his family then moved into the Victoria Racing Club. The style in which he had been living can be judged by the adjacent auction details.
In 1879 a partner, Austin Saqui, joined Jem and took over the day to day running of the Victoria Racing Club.
Jem and Joe Thompson organised a prize fight to LPR rules between Larry Foley and the Australian Champion Abe Hicken at £1,000 a side stakes.
On 20 Mar 1879 the fight took place on the New South Wales side of the border at Murrumbidgee Reef to avoid the Victoria Police. Foley won and took the Australian Title. A few days later Jem, Joe Thompson, Foley and Hicken were all arrested. There was a public outcry, the cases were dropped and an official enquiry was held into the Victorian Police’s conduct. However the Police effectively prevailed, this fight proved to be the last “prize fight” in Australia.
Jem probably used the proceeds of this venture to purchase the lease and furnish Apsley Villa, Robe Street, St Kilda, Melbourne. This house was bigger and was furnished even more luxuriously than Lambeth Villa. From the sale description, it appears likely that he needed to employ 6 staff to run this house. (groom, gardener, cook, nurse, two indoor staff)
On 29 Mar 1879 Jem and Larry Foley arrived in Sydney from Melbourne in the ship “Ly-ee Moon.”
On 19 Apr Jem fought an exhibition bout with Larry Foley at the Guild Hall, Sydney.
From 23 Jun 1879 to 3 Jan 1880 Jem fought a series of exhibition bouts with Jack Thompson at Mace’s Athletic Hall, Melbourne.
During Feb 1880 Jem fought a series of exhibition bouts in Hobart, Tasmania.
On 28 Feb and 6 Mar Jem fought exhibition bouts with Jack Thompson at Mace’s Athletic Hall.
On 17 Mar 1880 Jem is reported as owning 2 racehorses, a brown steeplechaser, Carlisle and the chestnut gelding steeplechaser Express.
In 1878 there was an important change to Australian law. The government of Victoria bowed to public pressure and legalised glove boxing, although bare fist “prize fighting” remained illegal.
As the following 2 cuttings from the Melbourne Argus clearly demonstrate, Jem’s absence gave him staff problems at the Victoria Racing Club. The first cutting is dated 1 Jun 1880 and the second is 5 Nov 1880.
Jem went to New Zealand in Apr 1880. He stayed for about two months in Timaru and opened a boxing school there. He then announced that he was to hold the New Zealand amateur championships of boxing. Among the entries was Bob Fitzsimmons who won the inaugural contest, and also the second when he knocked out Herbert Slade, the first acknowledged Maori champion.
Typical of the types of bouts that used to take place in the colony in these days was the Battle at “Billy Goat Flat”. An area was cleared from tangled bush at the back of the Ruru sawmill, near Nelson Creek. The ring was minus ropes, for which green saplings were used. The posts were squared-off lumber.
Usually in these bush contests the prize was a ten-gallon keg of beer, which was contributed by the partisan spectators. The fighters and referee had the privilege of filling the first glasses (after the bout of course) and as the glasses were of “schooner” size, it did not take long for the trophy to be merrily disposed of. Very few refused to drink the health of the referee, whose frequent declarations of draws appeared to satisfy most.
About Sept 1880 after a long series of repetitive boxing exhibitions and presumably with door receipts falling Jem stopped exhibitions at Mace’s Athletic Hall and formed the “Victoria Betting Club”. The following article refers.
The newly-formed Victoria Betting Club, which was opened in Melbourne on Wednesday week, is likely to prove too strong for Tattersall's. It seems the Committee of Tattersall's, without consulting their members, decided on leaving the old rooms at the Prince of Wales and going over to Jem Mace's. The leading bookmakers objected to this arrangement, and have succeeded in getting an exceedingly strong Club together at the old rooms, which have been repaired and put into first-class order since Tatt's went over the road. There are already 125 names enrolled on the members' list.
In 1880 Jem bought out his partner Austin Saqui. Opposite is an advertisement dated 31 Dec 1880 stating Jem is now solely in charge.
Jem then took on a manager, Graham Carrick, to run the Victoria Racing Club.