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 with a win points win over Thornton in September 1933. In his final successful defence of the middleweight title, Palmer outpointed Fred Henneberry in a thrilling 15-round fight in October 1931. Palmer added the heavyweight title to his collection with a points win over Jack O’Malley in February 1932. In his next fight, he surrendered the middleweight title to Henneberry when he was again disqualified for a low blow.
With issues making the middleweight division, Palmer stayed at heavyweight and agreed to a major money fight with world-ranked contender Young Stribling. Stribling toyed with Palmer, badly damaging his left eye and knocking him out in ten rounds, however Palmer made just under a year’s salary for the fight.
Palmer continued to dominate the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions in Australia from 1932-1936, never losing to another Australian boxer. Among his victories in this time were three wins over fellow three-weight national champion Ron Richards and a stoppage win over Henneberry in their 1936 rubber match. He also split fights with former welterweight title challenger Dave Shade (losing again by low blow) and defeated American puncher Deacon Leo Kelly.
After a brief tour to Great Britain was cut short due to family issues, Palmer returned to Australia. He was stopped by Deacon Leo Kelly in their rematch, which derailed a major money fight with Maxie Rosenbloom, and Palmer retired afterwards due to further damage to his left eye. He later returned to the ring, stopping Kelly in a rubber match before scoring his fourth win over Ron Richards to regain the Australian heavyweight title before. Palmer retired for good following a points loss to Gus Lesnevich, the first time he was beaten over the distance.
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 he guided Johnny Famechon to the world featherweight title in 1969. Palmer died in 1990, aged 79.