/ben"di goh'/, n.
a city in central Victoria in SE Australia: gold mining. 52,741.

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▪ British boxer
byname of  William Thompson  
born October 11, 1811, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
died August 23, 1880, Beeston, Nottinghamshire

      English bare-knuckle boxer who became a Methodist evangelist and who is one of the few athletes whose name is borne by a city—Bendigo in Victoria, Australia. His nickname apparently is a corruption of the Old Testament name Abednego. Thompson was one of triplets; the other two were nicknamed Shadrach and Meshach, alluding to the names of Daniel's three companions from the Book of Daniel (biblical literature).

      Born into an impoverished family of 21 children, Thompson was sent to the workhouse with his mother upon the death of his father. Soon after, he became an ironworker, a career that greatly improved his strength. By age 18 he had started prizefighting, and by 21 he had become a professional boxer. In the course of his pugilistic career (1832–50), Bendigo lost only one fight, a defeat to Benjamin Caunt (Caunt, Benjamin) in 1838. Caunt, however, outweighed him by more than 40 pounds, and the fight was lost when Bendigo was judged to have committed a foul by falling without having received a blow. (In bare-knuckle fighting, rounds were of an indefinite length, but, when a boxer was hit and put at least one knee to the mat, the round was ended, and the boxer had a definite time period by which he had to be ready for the next round. In order to prevent fighters from going down anytime they felt challenged by an opponent, when a boxer fell without being hit, it was considered a foul. Bendigo was considered to be a master of the ploy of stopping a round to get a rest when things looked unpromising in the ring.) In 1839 Bendigo won the English championship by beating James (“Deaf”) Burke (Burke, James). Bendigo retired briefly but then returned to win the disputed title of champion of England from Caunt in 1845; this time it was Caunt who committed the foul. Bendigo's last fight, again won because of a foul committed by his opponent, was in 1850.

      Because fistfighting was a breach of the peace, Bendigo was arrested after most of his fights. Further, he was frequently imprisoned for excessive drinking and brawling after his retirement from the ring. During his periods of incarceration, he heard many sermons from the prison chaplain, and one of these sermons eventually inspired him to attend a revival and try to amend his life. He had a religious conversion and became a preacher. The language of his own sermons was described as quaint, but he drew huge crowds wherever he preached.

      He was so highly regarded in Nottingham that a monument to him was dedicated in 1891, a lion over his grave, which bears an inscription attesting to his divided life: “In life always brave, fighting like a lion, in death like a lamb, tranquil in Zion.” Bendigo was inducted into Ring magazine's Boxing Hall of Fame in 1955.

      The city of Bendigo is believed to have been named after an admirer of the pugilist who adopted the nickname to advertise his own pretensions as a boxer.

      city, central Victoria, Australia, in the central upland area of the state; it is about 93 miles (150 km) northwest of Melbourne by road.

      Founded as a sheep run in 1840, the city's official name was Sandhurst until 1891, when it was formally changed to honour a local prizefighter who compared his own prowess to that of the English pugilist known as Bendigo. An important gold discovery on Bendigo Creek (1851) brought rapid growth and created an impressive city with fine examples of Victorian architecture and tree-lined streets. Mining ceased in 1955.

      Bendigo is now the commercial focus of a region that produces livestock, fruit, poultry, wheat, dairy products, vegetables, and wool. Its livestock market, one of the largest in Australia, handles more than 1,000,000 sheep each year. Diversified industries include iron, clothing, ceramics, armaments, hardboard manufacture, and food processing. Tourism is also important; the city's attractions include Rosalind Park, the Bendigo Art Gallery, and the Golden Dragon Museum complex, which commemorates the many Chinese miners who worked in the Victoria goldfields. The Bendigo Pottery, located northeast of the city in Epsom, is the oldest pottery works in Australia. A rail centre, Bendigo is also the junction of the Calder, Loddon Valley, Eppalock, and Midland highways. Declared a municipal district in 1855 and a shire in 1863, Bendigo became a city in 1871. Cultural resources include the Bendigo branch of La Trobe University; the city also has two cathedrals, the Roman Catholic (opened 1901, completed 1977) being a splendid example of early English Gothic architecture. Pop. (2001) urban centre, 68,715.

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Universalium. 2010.

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