Australia’s boxing history is a colourful, rich and veritable one. Rattle off names like Jeff Fenech, Danny Green, Kostya Tszyu, Rocky Mattioli and Anthony Mundine and power-packed punching scenes start running vividly through the head.
If there’s one guy who knows boxing like a science, it is sports journalist Grantlee Kieza who’s just had published a stylish book, simply titled Boxing In Australia but packed with all you could want to know about the sport.
While boxing itself is often gritty (and Kieza covers a lot of this grit), the book is possibly the most beautifully-presented tome published on the sport. Indeed, Boxing In Australia makes fighting seem as beautiful as veteran journalist Pierce Egan once described it when he referred to it as “the sweet science of bruising”.
Beginning with a little history on the sport – incorporating fabulous photographs of tough dudes donning camp pantaloons but fighting with bare knuckles – the text then moves into the rise of boxing in a country whose pub culture was expanding as quickly as our love of tough sport (hello Sky TV).
Kieza shares awesome stories of Australian fighters who rose above difficult beginnings to take on the world’s best and become international champions. These include the aforementioned and other greats like primary Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose and stocky-but-sturdy Les Darcy.
There’s also a section dedicated to female boxers, starting with the first girl-fight in 1978, plus plenty of iconic profiles and full match statistics.
Fans of boxing will love this book. And their partners and friends who perhaps don’t get into the sport will at least agree it looks real pretty – particularly for an activity that evolves around punching people up. Michael Mastess
‘Boxing In Australia’ (NLA Publishing, RRP $39.99) is available from quality online and physical bookstores.