Jem Mace was born on April 8, 1831 in Norfolk, Great Britain. He gave up his cabinet-making apprenticeship and violin playing for a boxing career. At the age of 16, he fought at fairs and races, catching the eye of trainer Nat Langham. Langham organized Mace’s bouts against noted fighters, such as champion Sam Hurst. Mace defeated Hurst in 8 rounds. Later, he faced Tom King in 1862 in a 43 round match that ended in Mace’s favor.
In 1870, Mace travelled to the United States, where he fought American champion Joe Coburn twice. Both bouts, however, were indecisive as the first was interrupted by the police, and the second ended in a draw. Mace continued boxing intermittently well into his sixties. Mace ensured his expertise and legacy would carry on longer after his career ended by teaching Australian trainer Larry Foley, who shared much of Mace’s teachings with his own trainees. At the age of 79, Mace passed away in Britain in 1910, and he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.