Les Darcy

LES DARCY

lesdarcy

“THE MAITLAND WONDER”

Les Darcy is considered by many to be Australia’s greatest ever pound for pound fighter, despite passing away at the age of 21. In a seven-year boxing career, Darcy claimed the world middleweight championship, as recognised in Australia, in 1915 and defended his claim successfully nine times. Darcy defeated Jeff Smith, who had claimed the world championship after defeating Eddie McGoorty on Australian soil in 1914. McGoorty had previously defeated British Empire middleweight and heavyweight champion Dave Smith to establish the claim.

In addition to claiming the world middleweight championship, Darcy also held the Australian and British Empire middleweight titles and the Australian heavyweight title and held these titles until his death in 1917. Darcy has victories over former middleweight world champion George Chip, former middleweight title claimants Jeff King, Eddie McGoorty and Mick King and world-rated contender Jimmy Clabby. Darcy defeated every man he ever faced in the ring.

Darcy stowed away from Australia in 1916 at the height of World War I to chase big money fights overseas. He died of pneumonia in 1917 while training for his American debut against Jack Dillon. The pneumonia was a side effect from a blood infection he contracted after having a tooth knocked out during a contest with Harold Hardwick in 1916. Darcy was labelled a draft dodger by the Australian press, who succeeded in turning the Australian public against their hero after he left the country. This reputation made it difficult for him to get a licence to fight in America. Despite the public outcry against Darcy after leaving Australia, the public mourned his death. Over 100,000 people viewed his body while it was on display in George street, Sydney before his body was transported back to his hometown of Maitland, NSW.

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Notable Bouts

03-11-1913          Bob Whitelaw                    L20
For Australian welterweight title
05-01-1914          Jack Clarke                          TKO9
21-03-1914          Bob Whitelaw                    KO5
18-07-1914          Fritz Holland                       L20
12-09-1914          Fritz Holland                       LDQ18
07-11-1914          Gus Christie                        W20
26-12-1914          Fred Dyer                            W20
23-01-1915          Jeff Smith                            LDQ5
World middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

13-03-1915          Fritz Holland                       W20
01-05-1915          Fritz Holland                       TKO13
22-05-1915          Jeff Smith                            DQ2
World middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

12-06-1915          Mick King                             TKO10
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)
Wins Australian middleweight title
Wins British Empire middleweight title

31-07-1915          Eddie McGoorty               TKO15
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

04-09-1915          Billy Murray                        W20
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

09-10-1915          Fred Dyer                            TKO6
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)
Defends British Empire middleweight title

23-10-1915          Jimmy Clabby                    W20
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

27-12-1915          Eddie McGoorty               TKO8
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

15-01-1916          George Brown                  W20
19-02-1916          Harold Hardwick               TKO7
Wins Australian heavyweight title

25-03-1916          Les O’Donnell                    TKO7
Defends Australian heavyweight title

08-04-1916          George Brown                  W20
13-05-1916          Alex Costica                        TKO4
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)
03-06-1916          Buck Crouse                       TKO2
24-06-1916          Dave Smith                         KO12
Defends Australian heavyweight title

16-08-1916          Dave Smith                         TKO11
Defends Australian heavyweight title

09-09-1916          Jimmy Clabby                    W20
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

30-09-1916          George Chip                       KO9
Defends world middleweight title (recognised in Australia)

External Links

Professional record.

Ambrose Palmer

Ambrose Palmer was born in Footscray, Victoria into a boxing family. His father Bill was a former Victorian lightweight champion who had trained with the legendary heavyweight Peter Jackson, and together they developed “The Method,” a technical style of boxing that Bill then taught to his sons.

Ambrose followed his older brothers into the professional game after losing in the final of the 1927 national amateur title. Ambrose went undefeated in his first year as a pro, earning himself an eliminator against Brisbane’s Norm Johnson. Palmer was ahead on points when he was disqualified for a low blow.

At the end of 1930, Australian middleweight champion Jack Haines was criticised in the press for selecting Palmer as an opponent for a non-title fight. Palmer shocked the 23-year-old champion, outpointing Haines in a major upset which earned him a shot at the Australian middleweight title.

Haines built up an early lead but had to settle for a draw after Palmer rallied in the championship rounds. The two men fought their third 15-rounder in just 12 weeks on December 27. Palmer once again rallied, knocking Haines out in the 12th round and became the new star of Australian boxing. Haines spent a month in hospital after the bout recovering from a cerebral haemorrhage.

Palmer lost the title on another low blow to Bob Thornton but reclaimed it before losing once again on a low blow to Fred Henneberry after outpointing him in a thrilling encounter six months prior. He outgrew the middleweight division, moving up to heavyweight for a major money fight with top contender Young Stribling. Stribling toyed with Palmer, badly damaging his left eye and knocking him out in ten rounds. Palmer made just under a year’s salary for the fight.

The Victorian dominated the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions in Australia in the 1930s, never losing to another Australian boxer. He stopped Fred Henneberry in their third bout and beat Ron Richards four times. He also split fights with Dave Shade (losing again by low blow) and defeated American puncher Deacon Leo Kelly. Kelly stopped Palmer in their rematch, derailing a major money fight with Maxie Rosenbloom, and Palmer retired due to further damage to his left eye. He later returned to the ring, stopping Kelly in a rubber match before retiring again following a points loss to Gus Lesnevich.

After boxing, Palmer played Australian Rules Football for Footscray before a broken jaw forced his retirement. He trained fighters in Melbourne throughout the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, teaching “The Method” to a new generation of Australian boxers. His crowning accomplishment as a trainer was when Johnny Famechon won the world featherweight title in 1969. Palmer died in 1990, aged 79.

Billy Grime

“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.