Jack Carroll was one of the greatest boxers ever produced from Australia.
Born Arthur Hardwick in Kensington, Victoria in 1906, he turned professional at the age of 17 using the ring name Jack Carroll to hide his new career from his mother. He battled his way up through the preliminary bouts at West Melbourne Stadium and often took fights in regional Victoria. Under the guidance of Bill O’Brien, Carroll honed his boxing skills in the ring while working full-time in a bakery.
A chance encounter at a Sydney racetrack while on holiday earned Carroll a short-notice main event slot at Sydney Stadium. His opponent, Gil McGrath, was highly touted but Carroll stopped him in nine rounds. Two more wins in Sydney followed by a pair of wins in Brisbane earned Carroll a shot at the 18-year-old Australian welterweight champion Al Bourke. Carroll annexed the title with a seventh-round TKO win. Although Carroll would never lose the title in the ring, both Charlie Purdy and Wally Hancock later claimed the title after Carroll was disqualified in non-title bouts.
A disappointing points loss to Harry Casey on 16 August 1928 in his New Zealand debut set the stage for Carroll’s career to remain in Australia. The poor performance was due to seasickness suffered during the voyage. Carroll avenged the loss in his last bout overseas, and later stopped Casey in a 1929 Brisbane bout. A knockout loss to Meyer Grace derailed Carroll’s attempt to enter the world rankings before wins over Jack Kilbourne rejuvenated his career. A hand injury suffered in 1931 forced a six-month layoff, and when Carroll was knocked out by Fred Henneberry upon his return many thought his career as a top boxer was finished.
Carroll took a job in a slaughterhouse and found the act of ripping the flesh from the carcasses strengthened his hand and healed his hand injuries. After Henneberry won the Australian middleweight title from Ron Richards, he agreed to a rematch with Carroll but refused to put the title on the line. Carroll won every round and claimed the Australian middleweight title. He knocked out Bluey Jones in 1933 to reclaim the welterweight title he had never lost and then beat Henneberry again in another non-title match. 1934 wins over Todd Morgan, Wesley Ramey and Ron Richards at Sydney Stadium earned him a world ranking. In 1935 Carroll defeated Willard Brown, Bobby Wilson and Jack Portney within a four week period, but after his September 1935 bout with Paul Schaeffer was ruled a no-contest by Sydney Stadium referee Joe Wallis due to Schaeffer being overmatched, Carroll signed with Charlie Lucas and his Sydney Sports Ground venture.
Carroll faced world #2 contender Bep van Klaveren in the opening show at the Sydney Sports Ground on Boxing Day 1935, easily outpointing the 1928 Olympic Gold Medallist in front of 25,000 fans. When he again dominated van Klaveren in the rematch, many were calling for Carroll to fight for the world championship. Lucas negotiated a bout with Barney Ross for the world welterweight title, but the bout was cancelled when Lucas could not raise enough money to pay Ross’ £9,000 guarantee (the equivalent of ten years’ salary). Carroll refused offers to fight in the United States, partly because he did not want to risk his family’s wealth and partly because he hated the thought of the voyage.
Carroll scored some of his greatest wins in 1937 and 1938, defeating Jimmy Leto three times and former title challenger Izzy Jannazzo. With issues making the welterweight limit in his final three bouts, Carroll’s doctor advised him to retire. In retirement Carroll worked as a referee at West Melbourne Stadium. With his boxing earnings Carroll bought a new house in the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds as well as a new car. At the height of his career Carroll was second to only cricketer Sir Donald Bradman in popularity but Carroll hated the limelight. Married with three children, Carroll drifted off into anonymity after retirement. He died of a heart attack at the age of 70 in 1976.