After attending school he was apprenticed to a cabinet-maker in York. Although weighing less than 11 stone, Richmond took up boxing and developed a reputation for beating much larger men.
Richmond became a prize fighter and scored a notable victory when he defeated Jack Holmes over 26 rounds at Kilburn. However, he lost to the great Tom Cribb after a long fight at Hailsham in Sussex.
In his next contest he beat Jack Carter at Epsom Downs. In 1809 he won 100 guineas after beating George Maddox after a hard fought 52 rounds.
Richmond retired from the ring after marrying a rich woman who helped him to buy a fashionable public house, the Horse and Dolphin, near Leicester Square. He also ran a boxing academy where he taught young men how to fight. One of his pupils was the writer William Hazlitt.
Bill Richmond died in London on 28th December, 1829.
Bill Richmond's first display in the pugilistic art which brought him into notice, was with one George Moore, a recruit, under Captain Connor, of the 19th Regiment, better known by the name of Docky Moore, who insulted Richmond upon the Course at York, during the time of the Races. This Docky had been the terror of Sheffield, and had ruled the roost for some time in that part of the country; in fact, he was elegantly proportioned, possessing considerable strength, and all the necessary requisites for milling; in height about five feet nine inches and a half, and weighing fourteen stone.
The friends of Bill Richmond persuaded him from attempting to fight with such a man, only weighing ten stone twelve pounds; the chance being positively against him, but he was not to be deterred; and the event proved his judgment correct, for in the course of twenty-five minutes, our hero punished Docky so completely that he gave in, and was taken out of the ring totally blind.
On the same course, not long after the above set-to, Richmond beat two soldiers, one after the other, belonging to the Inniskillin Dragoons.
Richmond's milling qualities rather getting abroad, a few of the lads who had a bit of fight in their compositions, envied his success; and one, in particular, a blacksmith, weighing thirteen stone, and in height about five feet ten inches, took the following method of provoking Richmond to have a brush. Richmond was noticed in York for going smart and appearing clean after he had done his work, when he met this hammer-man one evening, as he was taking a walk, who not only insulted him with opprobrious epithets, but gave him a kick on the thigh. Bill remonstrated with him on the impropriety of his behaviour, and told the blacksmith, that if he wanted to fight him, he should be accommodated at the Groves, on the next morning, to which they agreed to meet, when this son of Vulcan was completely satisfied, and acknowledged Richmond the best man.