Memories of battles and victories
I WAS born in 1936 on the gold fields of North Queensland during the Great Depression and spent much of my childhood living in tents and humpies around the gold fields of Queensland and New South Wales, while my father searched for the elusive yellow metal.
Boxing was always a topic of conversation in our family and I remember us crowding around the old car battery radio listening to Joe Louise, Vic Patrick and other boxers of that era do battle.
I left school when I was 14 years old and had my first amateur bout, and after an easy victory I was hooked on boxing for life.
At the age of 16 I went cane-cutting in order to build my strength for boxing, and at the end of the season travelled to Sydney to learn the finer points of boxing from the late, great old master Jack Dunleavy.
Having served my apprenticeship around the stadiums and boxing halls of Sydney and country areas I travelled down to Albury on the Murray River. Here at the age of 22 I decided to retire.
This lasted all of two years before I was once more bitten by the boxing bug.
Albury had its own boxing hero at that time, a hard-punching walk-up fighter named Max Watson. As we were both lightweights I challenged Watson to do battle against me in the boxing ring.
He readily agreed and in fact we went to war against each other no less than five times.
I defeated Max to win the Riverina lightweight title – which I defended successfully four times. So exciting were the bouts against Watson that we still hold the record attendance for a fight held in that area.
Growing restless I again returned to Sydney where I fought and acted as sparring partner to such great names as George Barnes, welterweight champion of the British Empire Ralph Dupas, who later went on to win a world title, and Alfredo Cotta, a hard-as-nails Mexican fighter who had fought for the welterweight championship of the world.
These were all great boxers and I consider it a privilege to have shared the ring with them.
Since retiring I have taught boxing in Cairns and Mareeba in Queensland and Berri Lyrup and Loxton in South Australia. Among the many state champions I have trained are my own three sons who have all won state and gold gloves titles.
My sons, Rodd, Roy and Ray all won state titles in the same year to set an Australian record.
With Rodd, I now teach the gentle art of pugilism at the Warwick Boxing Club where I am, as always, looking for a future champion.
Boxing over the years has been good to me, having taken me to every state in Australia and introduced me to some characters I would otherwise never have met.
Politicians, judges and lawmakers on one side and professional gamblers, ladies of the night and gangsters on the other.
They all rub shoulders on “fight night”.
It has been a trip through life I have enjoyed and would not change one moment of.