Sport An exhibition of material from the Monash University Library Rare Books Collection Introduction

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Harness Racing

61. Care and training of trotters / prepared by the editorial staff of "The Horseman and Spirit of the Times" from information furnished by the leading trainers and drivers of the day. (Chicago : Chicago Horseman Newspaper Co., 1914)

62. Dullard, V. L.

Globe Derby's greatness / by V.L. Dullard. (Melbourne : Wellman Printing, 1942)

63. Souvenir of Western Australia. ([Perth, W.A.] : W.A. Sportsmen's Organising Council for Patriotic Funds, [1945?])

Harness racing, or “trotting” as it is often called is very popular in the United States where it originated, Canada, France, Italy, and Scandanavia. Australia and New Zealand are the two countries where it is popular in the southern hemisphere.

Globe Derby was a champion pacer in Australia from 1916 to 1926, but his reputation stands mainly on his success at stud, establishing one of the pre-eminent sire lines in the country. The harness racing track in Adelaide is named Globe Derby Park.

The Western Australian item centres on the war effort and has information and photographs of Perth’s trotting track, Gloucester Park, used as a troop encampment during World War II.

Displayed with this material is a nineteenth century colour print of the finish of a harness race in America in 1874 (on loan from John Dean)


64. Sullivan, John Lawrence, 1858-1918.

Life and reminiscences of a nineteenth century gladiator / by John L. Sullivan ; with reports of physical examinations and measurements, illustrated by full-page half-tone plates and by anthropometrical chart by Dudley A. Sargent. (London ; New York : George Routledge and Sons, 1892)

John L. Sullivan was born in Boston. He began fighting in 1878 and turned professional in 1880. Most fights in America at the time were bare-knuckle affairs, fought under London Prize Ring rules. In 1882 he won the title of Heavyweight Champion of the United States. He became World heavyweight champion after winning a 75-round fight against Jake Kilrain on 8 July 1889.

Sullivan fought many exhibition matches and toured extensively in the US and Britain. In 1891 he was in Australia where he appeared on stage as a boxer in the play, Honest hearts and willing hands at the Opera House in Bourke Street, Melbourne. After retiring from the ring in 1892 he became a professional actor and vaudeville performer.

65. Lynch, John Gilbert Bohun, 1854-

The prize ring / by Bohun Lynch. (London : Country Life Ltd., 1925)

This is a history of boxing reproducing many of the classic prints by such artists as Gillray and Rowlandson. It is open at a colour reproduction of the 1743 Rules of boxing. The caption reads, “The first rules of the prize ring: drawn up at Broughton’s Amphitheatre in 1743.” They were fairly simple and left much to the interpretation of the judges, but were in force until 1838 when more elaborate rules were drawn up after the fight between Owen Swift and Brighton Bill “which ended fatally for the latter.”

Rule 7, the final rule, reads:

That no person is to hit his Adversary when he is down, or seize him by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist : a man on his knees to be reckoned down.

66. Pheasant-Richardson glove contest : (police report respecting glove contest between Thomas Pheasant and James Richardson.) (Sydney, N.S.W. : Govt. Printer, 1892)

67. Corris, Peter, 1942-

Lords of the ring / Peter Corris. North Ryde, N.S.W. : Cassell Australia, 1980.

As Peter Corris points out in his history of boxing in Australia, bouts have been fought here since the landing of the first fleet. However, there has often been a level of public disquiet about the spectacle of violence. The Pheasant-Richardson match, held at the Darlinghurst Skating Rink on the night of 6th September 1892 was a case in point. It was the subject of a lurid account in the Sydney Evening News and a question was asked in Parliament. The Police, who were present, tendered their report. This gives us an eye-witness of what was presumably a typical fight of the period, in a makeshift ring. The report was written by Inspector James Bremner

Sir, I have the honour to report that Sub-Inspector Robinson and myself were present on the 6th instant, when a glove contest took place at the Darlinghurst Skating Rink between Thomas Pheasant and James Richardson.

The contest was carried out under the Marquis of Queensberry rules; they boxed with gloves about 5 oz., padded with horse-hair, which is about the usual size used at boxing contests. The ring was 24 feet, and ropes passing through studded posts about 4 feet high, which gave way when the combatants were clinched and pressed heavily against the ropes; in consequence they fell off the stage, which is a little over 2 feet 6 inches high. The studding was again partly fixed, but nor sufficiently to prevent it giving way when they pressed heavily against the ropes.

The contestants boxed eight rounds, of three minutes each round, and one minute being allowed between rounds. Each of them was knocked down, or fell, several times during the contest; they fell twice when clinched through slipping on the boards. At the conclusion of the contest Richardson had a slight discolouration of one eye, otherwise he was unmarked. Pheasant’s nose was bleeding from a blow he got in the sixth round; his upper lip was swollen; he was struck several times about the ribs, but none of the blows appeared to be severe. There were about 600 persons present at the contest, and during the last two rounds most of them were standing on chairs round the ring, and, as Mr. Robinson and myself were outside the chairs we could not see all that took place.

Pheasant and a man named Heffernan boxed in the same hall last month. On that occasion I stopped the contest after the seventh round, and on this occasion I was going to the referee to request him to stop the contest when Pheasant was counted out; he was knocked down and did not get up before 10 seconds.

On two occasions proceedings were taken against persons for boxing under similar rules; the cases were dismissed. It is difficult to know when to stop glove contests, as the greatest amount of punishments in the first five or six rounds, after that it is more a matter of endurance. I think that all glove contests for prizes should be stopped, as it has a demoralising effect on youths who frequent these places.

I have been informed that a glove contest will take place at the same hall, on the 13th instant, between a man named Barron and Michael Ives, under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

PS – The detailed report in the Evening News of the boxing contest is exaggerated in describing the punishment which the combatants inflicted upon each other. The number of falls is correctly given, but it occurred mostly through the combatants’ feet slipping on the boards, and not by being knocked down.

The cleverly-titled Peter Corris’s book was written before he began his career as a crime writer. His first detective novel, The dying trade, was published later in 1980. He had completed his MA at Monash in 1966, on Aborigines and Europeans in Western Victoria, from first contacts to 1860; then proceeded to his Ph. D. at ANU, on “blackbirding”, Passage, port and plantation : a history of Solomon Islands labour migration, 1870-1914.

68. Solar Plexus.

The Darcy story : from blacksmith's apprentice to world's champion boxer / by Solar Plexus. (Sydney : New Century Press, [1919?])

69. Jack Read's complete Australian boxing annual. [Sydney] : J. Read, 1945

Phar Lap is usually remembered as the most notorious instance of an Australian champion going overseas and dying in mysterious circumstances, but before the famous race-horse, there was the case of the boxer Les Darcy (1895-1917). In 1915 and 1916 Darcy won twenty–two consecutive fights, and decided to go to the US in an attempt to win enough to make him financially secure.

Unfortunately, the issue of conscription was inflaming public opinion at the time. Darcy’s intention of going abroad to fight was seen by many as shirking. The fact that he was of Irish extraction only served to exacerbate the issue. Accompanied by his promoter, he left Australia clandestinely, sailing from Newcastle on 27 October 1916, the day before the conscription referendum.

He was pilloried in the Australian press and when he reached America, found that fights were cancelled because of the unpatriotic way he had left Australia. On 5th April 1917 he took out American citizenship and soon after volunteered for the Army. However, on 27th April he collapsed while training for a fight in Memphis. He was diagnosed with septicaemia, from infected teeth. He developed pneumonia, and died on 24th May 1917.

His body was brought back to Sydney, and, after a large funeral procession he was buried in his home town of Maitland. He quickly came to be considered by the Australian public as a nationalist martyr.

He appears on the cover of the 1945 issue of Read’s boxing records (Jack Read's complete Australian boxing annual) with the caption, “Les Darcy. The late “Maitland marvel,” who is rated as Australia’s greatest boxer of this century.”

70. Driscoll, Jim, 1880-1925

Text-book of boxing / Jim Driscoll. (London : Athletic Publications, [1921?])

71. Rose, Charles

Boxing taught through the slow motion film : Carpentier, Beckett, Drake, Wells, Lewis, Berry and other methods / by C. Rose. (London : Athletic Publications, [1924])

Jim Driscoll won the British featherweight title in 1906 and became European featherweight champion in 1912. He toured the USA in 1908-1909 and earned the nick-name “Peerless Jim” from the legendary Bat Masterson, who, having retired from his gun-slinging role of US Marshall in Dodge City, was now a sports journalist.

Driscoll was an Irishman, born in Wales. After he died of tuberculosis, aged 44, at his home in the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel in Cardiff, 100,000 mourners accompanied his coffin, draped in the union flag and carried behind a gun carriage.

Charles Rose’s book is notable for its use of the “Pathe slow-motion pictures” to analyse the styles and ringcraft of the champions of the day such as Driscoll and “Bombardier” Wells.

72. Mitchell, Ray.

The fighting Sands / Ray Mitchell. (London : Horwitz, 1965)

73. Mitchell, Ray.

Fight for your life / Ray Mitchell. (London ; Melbourne : Scripts, 1967)

These are part of our collection of Australian pulp publications. We have, for example, a very large number of Horwitz publications; Scripts was an imprint of Horwitz.

The Sands brothers were Aboriginal boxers from Kempsey (NSW). They held a variety of titles; Clem, was the New South Wales Welterweight champion from 1947 to 1951 and Alfie the NSW middleweight champ from 1952-1954. But Dave was regarded as the best of the six brothers. On 6 September he defeated Dick Turpin in London in 2 minutes, 35 seconds for the British Empire middleweight title. He also fought successfully in the US, but on 11 August 1952 was killed in a car-crash near Dungog, NSW.

Ray Mitchell’s book gives details of deaths in the ring. This continues to be a contentious issue with calls periodically to ban the sport. Mitchell lists twenty “reforms” which in his opinion would limit the risks involved. They mainly deal with the need for basic skills, strict policing of boxers being “over-matched”, and rigorous medical checks. Many of the deaths he records came about after older boxers had made come-backs. This he sees as a major risk, and lists specific clauses to cover the situation,

13. That no boxer having retired, be granted a licence to renew his career (make a comeback) if, at the time of his initial retirement from boxing, he was past his prime, or where the initial retirement had followed severe headaches, concussion, symptoms of impending mental impairment, or the slowing down of the reflexes.

14. That no boxer who has suffered a severe head injury, in or out of boxing, be allowed to box again.

15. That boxers’ licences be taken from them permanently when they are past their prime. (p. 116-117)

Wall Case 1.

In the first of the wall cases is a framed group portrait of the Collingwood Football Club premiership winning team of 1928 (on display by courtesy of Mick Stone, Camberwell Books), with a selection of football ephemera, including some old “Football records”, and a publication from the anti-Apartheid demonstrations during the Springbok tour in 1971, The whole world watched : anti-apartheid, Queensland, Australia, 1971 / by Mark Steer (Torwood, Q. : K. Howard, 1971) This was the local response to the tour of the South African Rugby Union team.

Wall Case 2.

Here we see a poster for the Ballarat Miners’ Races, Friday October 25th, 1912, (on loan from John Dean); two board games, Parlour Steeple Chase, from the late Victorian period; and Steeplechase from the 1950s; as well as various race books. There is a copy of House News, the Herald and Weekly Times staff magazine. The issue on display (v. 27, no. 2, Feb.-Mar. 1957) has on the cover the famous triple dead-heat photograph. This was taken by the Sun photographer, George Bugden, and features the horses, Pandie Sun, Ark Royal and Fighting Force passing the post in the 1956 Hotham Handicap at Flemington.

The sheet music for O dem golden slippers is also on display. This is an old Negro minstrel song which Gerald Murnane has chosen to use as the title of the horse racing novel he is currently completing; the Golden Slipper being the premier two-year race in Australia.

Wall Case 3.

This Wall Case is devoted to the 1956 Olympics. It includes a metal wall map, Broadbent’s Melbourne to and fro, Olympic Special, showing the venues for the sports as well as an inset map of the Olympic Village in West Heidelberg.

Among the memorabilia and Olympic ephemera is on display are programmes for the opening and closing ceremonies and some of the daily events as well as tickets to the Games. The closing ceremony was preceded by the Olympic Soccer final between USSR and Yugoslavia.

Also included are ABC Olympic Books for Munich 1972 (featuring Shane Gould on the cover), and Los Angeles 1984 (featuring Robert de Castella).

Wall Case 4.

This wall case includes a portrait of Bill Woodfull, the front page of The Sydney Mail, 7 Feb., 1934 (on loan from John Dean). Woodfull first played for Australia in the 1926 team to tour England. He headed the Australian batting averages and was named one of Wisden’s top five cricketers of the year. He became the Australian captain in the 1930 tour, playing as opening batsman and regaining the ashes.

He was captain during the “bodyline” series of 1932-33 in Australia, famously remarking that “there are two teams out there but only one of them is playing cricket.” He then captained the touring side to England in 1934, afterwards retiring, with an average of 46.

Woodfull was a school-teacher, and was Principal of Melbourne High School from 1956 to 1962.

Also in the case are some items of cricket ephemera, including two booklets from the 1934 tour, one of which gives all of Bradman’s statistics, and a contemporary account of the body-line tests.
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