“The Wombat Walloper”
Billy Grime was born in 1902 in the small village of Wombat near the town of Young, New South Wales. Grime started boxing in tent shows in Young until he moved to Sydney in 1920 and turned professional. Winning as many as he lost during his days as a preliminary fighter, Grime entered and won the NSW state championship tournament in 1921, winning four fights over 20 rounds in the space of ten weeks to claim the title.
Grime graduated to a main event fighter in 1922, headlining shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but with mixed results. In 1923 he won the Australian featherweight title when he outpointed Bert Spargo. In 1924 he won and lost the Australian lightweight title in bouts with Hughie Dwyer, before regaining the title with an 18th round knockout over Ben Martin.
Grime defeated many international opponents in 1925 and 1926, regularly headlining shows across the east coast of Australia and earning himself a world ranking at junior lightweight, a class that wasn’t recognised in Australia at the time. On New Year’s Day in 1927, Grime added the Australian welterweight title to his collection when he knocked out Eddie Butcher in the fourth round with a body shot. The win clearly established Grime as the biggest boxing star in Australia.
Against the persuasion of his friends and promoters, Grime travelled to America later that year. He claimed he was doped by his manager in one of his fights, and that he was paid to take a dive in other bouts. He returned to Australia in 1929, having lost more than he won, but he was a shell of his former self. He lost a disappointing fight with former flyweight world champion Fidel La Barba in front of 9,000 fans in Melbourne. His last great win was over Petey Sarron in 1929, but he lost four times to the future featherweight champion in subsequent fights.
Investments in an Athletic Club and a brand of boxing boots failed, and Grime was forced to continue fighting into the 1930s. He finished his career as it started; fighting in the tents of agricultural shows and display his three championship belts as an attraction. He worked odd jobs in his later life before dying of heart disease in 1949.