Australia's To 25 Boxer's of All Time

By Tony Nobbs: This country has a boxing great tradition with eleven Aussie pugilists holding major world championships. I will count down my top 25 of Australian boxers in history (imports not included) over the coming weeks.

25/ Fred Henneberry (Middleweight champion of Australia): Born in Port Pirie, South Australia in 1911. Based out of Sydney. Turned pro in 1930, at 18, drawing his first bout before winning next twenty. Suffered first defeat over 15 rounds on points to Russ Critcher (50-7-3) in 1931 but beat Critcher over fifteen in an immediate rematch. Once stopped the great welterweight Jack Carroll but lost returns. He fought the master Ambrose Palmer on three occasions (1-2)and squared off against the brilliant Ron Richards an amazing ten times, drawing twice, winning three (1 by knockout) and being disqualified’d five times! In a US trip in 1939, he drew with George Abrams (27-3) over eight rounds at Madison Square Garden, being penalized two points which cost him the nod. Abrams, in the next two years, twice beat world welterweight champion Billy Soose, drew over ten with Charley Burley, considered the best fighter never to win a world championship and go fifteen rounds with the Man Of Steel Tony Zale for the middleweight championship of the world. In 1947 Abrams lost a spilt nod to Sugar Ray Robinson. Back in Sydney in 1940, Fred was controversially stopped in round seven by Archie Moore (42-4-4) who went on to become the greatest world light heavyweight champion in history – after the referee indicated the “No Foul” rule (the Australian could not continue after a low blow).Twice reigned as Middleweight champion of Australia (beating Palmer and Richards for titles) and challenged Palmer for Lt Heavyweight honors. Last fought in 1941, a DQ against Richards. Overall record: 60-19-6, 31 ko’s. Died in 1997. Like all rated above him, would be a world champion today.

24/ Lester Ellis (IBF junior lightweight/super featherweight champion of the world - 1985):

Born in Blackpool, England in 1965. Trained by his brother Keith – Victoria’s “Trainer of the Century”. A pencil thin whip, who was a three time Australian amateur champion “The Master Blaster” turned professional in 1983 when he realised he would be by passed for selection to the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Aided by promoter Cos Sita, he rose fast. Won Comonwealth junior lightweight crown out pointing Zambia’s John Sichula (14-0-1) in November ’84 at Melbourne Festival Hall. At same venue on February 15, 1985, in his fifteenth paid bout, became IBF junior lightweight champion of the world winning a verdict over Hwan Kil Yuh (25-1-3). Though it was officially a split decision, Lester was a decisive winner, with the Korean judge giving it to his countryman. Reign was short. Made one successful defence, a dramatic KO 13 over Filipino puncher Rod Sequenen (43-9-3)again at Festival Hall. Next up lost the title by decision to his former idol, the mercurial Barry Michael (44-8-3) on July 12 at the Hall. Better wins he had in future years were – KO 8 Rafael Solis (30-4-2), W 10 Tony Miller (19-1-1), W 10 ex WBA lightweight world champ Ernesto Espana (36-6), KO 6 Dale Artango (18-1), KO 5 Pat Leglise (30-4-1), KO 1 Rod Sequenan (54-14-4 -Sequenan later went the distance with world champs Roger Mayweather, Carlos Gonzales and James Page in the US), W 10 Iwao Otomo (17-1-2) and W 12 Tony Laing (13-3-1) for C/Wealth light welter laurels. He won the National lightweight strap against the dazzling Artango in 1987. At one stage Lester was number one mandatory contender for hall of famer Azumah Nelson’s WBC super featherweight crown, but, while he won three IBO world belts in as many weights and one WBF, losses at crucial times kept him from another shot at a major championship. Last fought in 2002 when halted in three rounds in Melbourne by Anthony Mundine (13-1), at super middleweight (17 kilo / 2 st 10 lb / 34 lb from his IBF title days). That was his first bout since a KO by 4 defeat to ex IBF featherweight boss and Jeff Fenech conqueror Calvin Gove (48-8) in 1996. Overall record: 41-8, 22 ko’s.

23/ Trevor King (Featherweight champion of Australia): Born at Cessnock, NSW, 1930. A true fighter. Overcame illness (was paralyzed by rheumetic fever )as a child to produce one the greatest records of any Australian pugilist before or after him. Turned pro in 1946 winning first 41 fights before losing to Sigi Tennenbaum in 1952. Defeated Tiggenbaum on points over fifteen the same year for the NSW featherweight strap. Defeated local top liners Johnny Wheler, Bluey Wilkins and Ray Mustard Coleman with his biggest scalp being that of the unfortunate but still world class knockout artist Elly Bennett (36-12-1, 32 ko’s), who he widely outscored in 1953. Was due to fight for the British Empire (Commonwealth) featherweight title but was involved in an accident while riding his motorcycle. Had one more fight, in 1960, beating New Zealand lightweight title holder Mike Corless , KO 5, but then suffered a serious head injury in a car accident. Overall record: 63-1, 37 ko’s. Later became a Salvation Army Minister.

22/ Charkey Ramon (Commonwealth light middleweight champion): Born David Ballard in Gulgong, NSW in 1950. Trained by my first mentor ,the venerable Bernie Hall in Sydney. Named by Bernie – “Charkey” after the African American boxer, “Ramon” after the Mexican fighter. A top amateur. Turned professional in 1970 and had his last fight in 1974. 1972 was his big year. He out pointed former Australian middleweight champion Dick Blair, then won the National light middleweight strap knocking over Paul Lovi (14-3-2) in three rounds in June, knocked out future Aussie super middle champ Joe Vella in two heats and got off the deck to be crowned Comonwealth champion by stopping Englands Pat Dwyer (33-8-2) in round eight in October. Got to number one in the world and was closing in on a title shot when he retired due to a damaged shoulder. Only loss was to Fred Etuati, who he gave away ten pounds. Final record: 33-1-1, 22 ko’s. Later became a top referee,was involved in the infamous brawl on the first – and last – boxing promotion at the Sydney Opera House, promoted by league icon Tommy Raudonikas in 1982.

21/Rocky Mattioli (WBC super welter/light middleweight champion): Born in Ria Teatine, Italy, in 1953. Named Rocco after Rocky Marciano who visited his hiome town the day he was born. Migrated to Australia age five. A Victorian amateur champion, silver medalist at Nationals in 1969, turned pro in 1970. Stocky, stood a touch under 5’7. Won Australian welterweight belt, KO 12 over Jeff White in 1973. Losses to Ali Afakasi (KO by 12) and New Yorker Harold Weston (L10) did little to halt his progress. He beat former world welter boss Billy Backus (who upset the legendary Jose Napoles) and became WBC super welterweight champion of he world when he knocked out German Eckhard Dagge (20-3-1) in five rounds in Berlin, on August 6, 1977- in his 54th professional outing. Retained twice (also had three non title wins) with KO 7 over Angelo Dundee trained former world champ, Elisha Obed (67-4-4) and KO 5 Jose Manuel Duran (63-6-9). Lost throne to Antiguan born Englishman Maurice Hope in nine rounds in 1979. Lost a challenge to Hope in 1980, in eleven rounds. Remained in world top ten until he retired in 1982 winning his last four by knockout. Overall record: 64-7-2, 51 ko’s.

Next week 20-16.

Article posted on 04.05.2009

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