Sunday, 19 March 2017

History of Maryborough Boxing

Harry Steve had a boxing stadium in the old Naval Hall
Max Gornik had a boxing stadium in Kent St Maryborough, Pat Delaney
was the promoter for Max and was often busy signing up new names

In between having stadiums the main places for the fights were the Town Hall and the Bungalow theatre.

1921 - The main fight listed on the bill to be held at the Bungalow theater is Stan Goode (Marborough) will fight Billy Murphy (Bundaberg) This series was a fiver - 5 Friday nights in a row. (Full Article) 

1922 - Gilshenan defeats Neilsen..... Nearly 2000 spectators filled the Bungalow Stadium to witness the fight between Frank Gilshenan  ( Maryborough) and George Neilsen Wondai which was billed as the amateur welterweight championship of Queensland. This fight was six three-minute rounds and it was by no means a thrilling for all those who went along to watch... Article

1923 - Frank Johnson fought Billy Murphy (Bundaberg)  and Frank won on points at the Town Hall.

    Before a good house int e Town Hall last night "Curley" Hincks (Brisbane) 9.2 knocked out Harry Holmes (Maryborough) 9.4 in the 20th round  (

1927- Amateur Boxing and wrestling champion ships were held in Maryborough

1937 - Another capacity house at Max Gornik's stadium saw Dannie Ritchie (10.8) box a ten rounds draw with Morgan Tanner (10.6). In the second feature Snowy Regan (9.12) stopped Al Meredith (9.8) in the third round. Regan won his last six fighters here in brilliant style (M/boro Chronicle 21/8/1937)

1937- Another big night a Gorniks stadium saw Ron Sylvester lost to "Lofty" Stig. It was a huge fight and other interesting fighters for the night  included Snowy Regan, Otto Scheffler, "Kid" Cole, and Alf Wells.. Check the whole article here 

1937- Dan Ritchie versus Morgan Tanner (10.8) the boxer from Pialba. The full article is here

1937- Boxing was forming into a major sport and the Maryborough Boxing Association was formed.. they celebrated by a fight night.. read about Conroy v Tanner

1938 - Tiger Thompson versed Flash Gordon.... it was a grueling fight but Tiger secured a meritorious decision over Flash, who was unable to continue after the seventh round owing to having injured his left hand in one of the hard punching duels with which the match was liberally sprinkled.
Other fights on the night were Jackie Burns and Otto Scheffler , with Jackie winning by knock out.
Ren Corie defeated Kev Lynch on points, Les Smith TKO'd G Burns in two rounds and M Anderson KO'd J Jackson in 2 rounds ( Full article here)



Trove, Various Newspapers and various dates.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Boxing Troupes, skating rinks and Harry Steve

Two gentlemen came into the rooms asking about Henry/Harry Steve who was a boxer and also a Boxing Promoter. Harry ( as he was generally known ) was born in South Africa and he was the owner of ????? in South Africa before coming to Australia.

He had a long and successful career as a boxing promoter and his main fighter was Arthur Douglas who was born in South Africa and was a ???? champion fighter with varied and fascinating descriptions of his stature. Harry was a very talented man also and during his life of travels was a promoter, a vet, a hairdresser and publican sometimes all 3 at once.

His second wife Lucy died in Maryborough and is buried in the Maryborough Cemetery, she lived in North St prior to her death. Harry remarried and we established he was cremated in Rockhampton but may have been interred at Biloela and our gentlemen left with this task to discover.

Lets start a little further back Harry had came to the Wide Bay area and was attending other boxing matches and was fairly confident in his ability to properly promote the sport locally and would make comments regularly in the local paper.

Maryborough Chronicle 29/1/1923.. Murphy Johnson Fight

Harry was quite adamant on the management not stopping open betting being conducted and his stated it would tend to put boxing on a very low level indeed.
He believes the majority of people go to view a match from a sportsmanlike attitude and to see two well trained gladiators doing their best to win by fair means. But once the betting enters the game to the extend it did last night the whole thing fell apart.

Very interesting read on the match held between Murphy and Johnson at the Town Hall Maryborough . You can read it here

Harry Steve decided to set up a boxing stadium/ rollerskating rink in Maryborough which was an amazing addition to our town at the time. The story featured in the Maryborough Chronicle went like this:

Boxing and Physical Culture
Converting Naval Hall into Stadium
Raising Standard of Noble Art
Mr H Steves Adventure 1923

What promises to be a very big development in connection with boxing in Maryborough, is at present being arranged by the well-known promoter, Mr Harry Steve. In fact, if the scheme is carried out according to the original plans, and there seems no valid reason why it should not be, the noble art should receive the biggest impetus that has ever been experienced locally. Mr Steve has been for the greater portion of his life engaged in the promotion of big boxing contests. and being fortified with a practical experience extending over many years, he has invariably made good. 

In South Africa he figured prominently in the preparation of some fine men for the ring, and among those was Arthur Douglas, whose name is familiar to every follower of the sport.
For a long time, Mr Steve was located in Durban, where he was secretary and treasurer of one of the biggest clubs in South Africa known as the Lords Amateur Athletic and Cycling Club. Since coming to Australia he has been engaged in business, but has always kept in close touch with the sports he was formerly identified with abroad. His latest project has been t take a lease on the Naval Hall, Maryborough for a term of five years and the preliminary arrangements for the conversion into a sporting rendezvous are now int he course of progress. The principal feature will be to enter for boxing, and the scheme is apparently not going to be dealt with on any mean scale.

A staff of workmen is occupied in transforming the hall for boxing purposes and when this is completed the equipping of the stadium will be proceeded with. The various appointments will be carried out in the most modern style, and nothing will e wanting in this respect, when the first contest is arranged. 
The boxing ring will be 21 feet square overall, and the enclosure itself, 18 feet square, while the seating accommodation for spectators will be arranged on the most modern lines. It is the intention of Mr Steve to endeavor to raise the standard of boxing in Maryborough by stringently adhering to the policy of only putting on contests to which he has every confidence from the spectators point of view. He leaves for Brisbane this week in the hope  of arranging some good fights at an early date, and is hopeful that on Eight hour night the first programme will be submitted. Every boxer will require to sign an agreement safeguarding both himself and the promoter, who is out for the best available talent. 

 The Hall which is capable of accommodating 2000 spectators, should be admirably suited for the purpose to which it is being devoted. Mr Steve also purposed inaugurating physical culture classes and gymnastics. The gymnasium is now being constructed, and will be right up to date in every details. The undertaking is a big one, bu the promoter is confident that boxing and the allied sports are popular, and he is determined to place them on a permanent footing. No expense will be spared to attain that end, and the public will be given the opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation of his enterprise. 

As a continuation we thought we would also outline the early history of boxing in Maryborough Qld.. so if you would like to read more on that go to MARYBOROUGH BOXING


1923 'SPORTING.', Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (Qld. : 1860 - 1947), 17 April, p. 8. , viewed 17 Mar 2017,

PIC/8395 LOC Drawer PIC/8395-Arnold Thomas boxing collection [picture]/[Portrait of Arthur Douglas, South African boxer who fought in Australia, 1] [picture] /

 1877,  Arnold Thomas boxing collection [picture]  <>

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The arrival of the South Sea Islanders to Maryborough

I recently attended a planning meeting for the 150th Anniversary of the landing of the Mary Smith in Maryborough. The Mary Smith was  a labour recruiing ship that had travelled to the Pacifc Islands to bring the first group of South Sea Islanders to work on cane and cotton properties on the Fraser Coast.

The is much discussion around the blackbirding trade and whether all SSI were blackbirded or whether there was also legitimate boats that were declared as recruitment ships. So as a part of the ongoing discussion we are currently compiling a list of ships that were docked in Maryborough with indentured labour and blackbirded labour on board. 

There are a couple of interesting definitions that were first discussed.
Definition of a slave ship-A ship transporting slaves, especially one carrying slaves from Africa. 
Definition of a slave - Slave is a person who is legally owned by someone else and has to work for that person
Definition of a kanaka: A Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in Australia, especially in the sugarand cotton plantations of Queensland
Definition of a blackbirder : A person engaged in press-ganging or kidnapping labourers in the south Pacific region for work on the sugar plantations or a ship engaged in this trade.

With these definitions and the discussions fresh we decided to do a little research into the recruitment ships to see if we could in any way discover and cover the ships, where they came from, who owned them and how many they bought into Australia. 

For more information on each ship go to the  Labour Recruitment Ships page and there are links to individual ships on there for your reading. 



Thursday, 9 March 2017

Wow how time flies..

I realised I haven't posted anything since Christmas the time has gotten away from me this year yet I have been achieving so much. When the Society went on holidays I stayed on over the break to catch up with all the tasks I hadn't finished and decided to clean up the computer and my records.

It was definitely worth it and I had the opportunity to meet a lovely lady who is looking for her ancestors. The Great Grandmother she is looking for is we believe is known as Elizabeth Thurechts who was married ot a George Berry and they lived at Wondai.. but we have a major disaster in that we can not find any trace of her she gave birth to children, but wierd enough is that her surname is different on every birth certificate. So Elizabeth and I are trying every avenue to discover this person who she owes so much to.

I think I have tried every avenue of research and I dont' think there is any way to go but we will keep plodding along. Then in the process I have also been helping Bill with his family and filling in the missing gaps of his family. It can be so rewarding helping somebody else discover new people and family.

Then the most exciting thing was announced that Tom King my GGGGrandfather is being honoured by the Fraser Coasts Council at their Walk of Achievers and they are having an official ceremony on the 7th May.. this is awesome as Tom and the family contributed heaps to the local area as most of the family were Irish Policemen.

Tom was part of the initial party that went to Victoria to track Ned Kelly but Tom liked a drink or two and was arrested by the Victorian Cops for drunk and disorderly.. and sent home but he went back to work and continued on his merry way. :)

I have more exciting news I have been enrolled at the University of Tasmania for Place Image, Object course.. this should be fascinating to do as it explores how objects, places, and images assist you in writing the history of someone.. I am sure it is going to expand my research skills heaps and I am also waiting to see if I get accepted into another course which will advance my skills and qualifications hugely.

So as you can read I am flat out getting nowhere and having a ball.. I am going to a meeting on Saturday for the 150th anniversary of the landing of the schooner "Mary Smith" in Maryborough. This is a recruiting ship for South Sea Islanders, and we are already having some of the most interesting conversations with my old pal Alistair who has roped me in for this. Although I am quite looking forward to it..

So I am rambling along and your probably thinking now I know why she can't get anything on paper.. I need to get my stuff more organised for sure but I love flicking from one thing to another as I learn more and more things daily.

Till next time