True grit, determination and the Aussie battler mentality are associated with some Australia’s finest boxing greats. Although a young country, Australia has produced its fair share of world class boxers. Some, operating on pure heart and instinct, others that have the technical prowess and flair that keep their audience on the edge their seat, as a knockout in the third-round looms closer.
This post is a tribute to those exceptional humans who have donned the trunks and have sacrificed, worked hard and succeeded in taking the boxing world by storm. From the unsung heroes of the past to the great of the present, who have started in a humble boxing club and through dedication have seen their names in neon lights in stadiums and boxing rings across the globe.
64-7-2 (51 KO)
The Italian born Mattioli’s impressive fight card of 64 wins with a staggering 51 KO’s earns him the Rocky title of one of Australia’s best boxers. In 1977 he defeated Eckhart Dagger to become the world light middleweight champion. He held the belt for two years, defending it twice before losing to Maurice Hope in 1979 by TKO. He retired 3 years later in 1982.
80-1-15 (64 KO)
Tony Mundine, father of football player, turned boxer Anthony Mundine, knew his way around the ring. He won the Commonwealth middle weight and light heavy weight titles. Mundine held three Australian titles at one time of light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavy weight titles. Mundine had shot at the world title against Carlos Monzon only to lose. Mundine is one the greatest boxers never to win a world title.
Jeff “The Hitman” Harding
23-2 (17 KO)
Although Jeff the Hitman Harding’s career was short lived, it was filled with highlights. Jeff Harding fought his way into Australian boxing history when he won the WBC light heavyweight title defeating Dennis Andries by TKO and became the first Australian win a world light heavyweight title in the USA. As his name suggests Jeff “The Hitman” Harding’s punches were like a freight train. You don’t want to be hit by this man.
Anthony “The Man” Mundine
48-8 (28 KO’s)
The son of boxing great Tony Mundine and former professional footballer could also dance in the boxing ring. Often loud mouthed and controversial, Anthony Mundine could fight as well as he could trash talk. Mundine held two world titles and it’s rumoured he amassed 30 million dollars in his career. Some say that Mundine never reached his full potential, although his impressive boxing career cements his name as one of Australia’s boxing greats.
46-4 (29 KO)
Les Darcy notched up 46 wins by the age of 21. Unfortunately, Darcy’s career was cut short by a fatal bout of pneumonia. Darcy held the Commonwealth middle weight title and also the Australian heavyweight title.
42-11 (12 KO)
Lionel Rose was the first indigenous Australian to win a world title. Rose defeated Marashiko Harada to claim the WBC and WBA titles. Lionnel Rose was a true ambassador of the aussie underdog. Rose also won the Commonwealth bantamweight title and defended three times. He retired in 1971 then made a brief comeback a few years later only to lose four of six fights. Inevidibly he hung up the gloves and will go down in history as one Australia’s boxing greats.
Jeff “Marrickville Mauler” Fenech
Jeff Fenech was an absolute powerhouse in the ring at his boxing club, and won world titles in three different divisions. Fenech worked hard and trained relentlessly to become arguably Australia’s finest boxing export. A controversial decision stopped Fenech from attaining a fourth world title and goes down in boxing history as one of the most corrupt decisions in professional boxing history. Fenech’s hands slowly gave out and put him into early retirement after an amazing career and was inducted in the international Boxing Hall of Fame to the delight of his legion of fans. Fenech had a one off fight when he was in his forties with Nelson and won after a tenth round point decision. He was a true blue Australian boxing hero.
31-1-2 (25 KO)
Russian born Tsyzu’s electrifying career produced a highlight reel of some of the best knockouts in boxing history and he won “knockout of the year award for obliterating Zab Judah leaving him sprawled out on like a dead lizard on the canvas. His ring presence and sheer speed and power saw him taking home a string of including light and welterweight titles. He was the thunder from down under and deservedly so, when you got hit by Tsyzu, you knew about it.
So if you think you have what it takes to be the next world champion or are simply after a great way to keep in shape. Pop on down to your local boxing club, strap on some gloves and who knows you could be on the list of Australia Greatest Boxers.
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