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.