Sunday, July 19, 2009

Memories of Jimmy Sharman's Boxing Stadium

This photograph from the National Library of Australia really took me back. It shows Jimmy Sharman's boxing troupe at a country show in 1959.

The drum (centre) would start beating to draw the crowd. Those like my brother and I would be attracted by the noise, and come drifting across the rutted dusty ground towards the stand. There we would stand, while the spruker expounded the virtues of the fighters.

"Come on, come on, come on. Give it a go. Survive three rounds and we will give you five pounds."

Each fighter would be brought forward and introduced to the crowd. "Surely some of you blokes can beat him. Three rounds, five pounds." The locals would hold up their hands and be called into the stand to be fitted out.

Juimmy Sharman Troup

Inside we got near the ring, sat and waited on the hard seats while the dust motes drifted in the sunlight streaming down onto the ring. The fighters were brought out and introduced, the troupe fighter and then the local challenger. The bell sounded, and the fight began.

In today's terms it would all seem quite brutal, although we did not see it that way. It was just sport. It was only when fights were completely unbalanced that it became cruel.

Generally the locals were outclassed and it was over quite quickly. The local retired bearing his scars to the beer tent, there to stand in glory with his friends for giving it a go. However, there was one fight I remember that did not go according to plan.

The troupe boxer was a young, good looking, blonde bloke. He ran up against a very tough local who cut him to pieces. By mid way through the second round the troupe boxer's face was bruised and cut, his lips smashed. He kept going, but the crowd started to call for an end to the fight. It was no longer sport.

I actually saw a fair bit of boxing. Yes, I am aware of the health risks, but I am glad that I did see Jimmy Sharman's touring stadium before new regulations forced an end to the shows.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is a very nice word-picture to go with the picture, Jim. There is a short wikipedia article on Jimmy Sharman Sr and Jr. It has a few links but I haven't checked to see how good they are. I wonder if anyone has written a history of the Sharman boxing tent - it would be fascinating to know some of the stories - for example of the blond guy in the troupe whom you mention.

tikno said...

For me, old pictures is interesting because rarely. Also to your family picture which it shows the three generations of the New Zealand Belshaws.

Jim Belshaw said...

It's a great story anon, part of Australia's history. The Sharman troupe is mentioned in all sorts of books, but I have not been able to find a single story.

From the bits I have read, I actually think that it would make a great movie.

Tikno, the older photos are so good because there are so few of them. My daughters face book pages have hundreds! How to select?

It would be interesting to see old photos of Indonesia/Dutch East Indies with comments.

One of my friends was going out with a Vietnamese girl who had saved their family album with a few shots back to Siagon of the 19th century. Fascinating stuff.

tikno said...

There are many in the library but I still thinking about copyright issues. I have asked to some journalist friends to request historical images from their databases, but no reply until now.

Indeed this is a good idea to post about historical moments. If possible, I will post it.

Jim Belshaw said...

Copyright is always a worry, isn't it?I look foward to your posts, Tikno. I may be able to find some photos in Australia.

kellso100 said...

Hi am looking for photos of sharmans troup in the late 40's and early 50's as my dad fought for him he fought under the name curly ryan before sparing for dave sands until daves unfortunate death.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi kellso100. I did a web search to see what I could find, but found very little. I found just one reference to a fight by Curly Ryan at Newcastle in 1951 - http://boxrec.com/date_search.php?yyyy=1951&mm=06&dd=23.

I have run a request for information on three of my blogs to try to get coverage. I am not sure that we will get anything - this is very much a hit and miss affair.

kellso100 said...

Thanks Jim,
your help is greatly appreciated, to find anything out is great as I am trying to build or document his life story and this is only a chapter in a great mans life.

reguards,
Jason Kells

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Jason. That was a fast response. Why don't you tell us a little more about your Dad's life? I suspect that there is a real story here.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Jason

In case you don't see it, pelleythepoet did a search on Dave Sands on Picture Australia and found some photos of Dave Sands sparring in Newcastle. Is this your Dad?

The link is http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?term1=%22Dave+Sands%22&Submit=search&action=PASearch&attribute1=any+field&mode=search

kellso100 said...

Thanks Jim,
some of the images may be him, but I can't be sure. as for his the stot of his life I will post it for you in a few week as I have just have had new baby arrive this week so I don't have alot of spare time at the second but yes there are some interesting chapters in it.
anyway thank you for your help in the search for information.

jason

Jim Belshaw said...

Congratulations on the baby, Jason. If it's your first, life will never be the same again!

sara said...

do you know if the stadium travelled to Gunnedha nsw?

sunshine#36 said...

My father Arthur Danes challenged and won many of these fights much to the displeasure of the sharman boxers. They would stand out the front of our house and yell at him to come out and have a rematch.

sunshine#36 said...

My father Arthur Danes won many a bout against the Sharman boxers and was well known at the local watering holes as well. He was a genuine true blue.

sunshine#36 said...

That was mostly in Longreach Qld, I forgot to mention.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Sara and sorry for the very long delay in replying. I missed your comment. I would be very surprised if S. didn't visit Gunnedah,

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi sunshine 36. I do seem to remember that the troup wasn't all that keen on losing!

How interesting about your Dad.I looked him up, so he did have some fights in Brisbane as well.

sandi said...

hi
just hoping if anyone has heard of a tent boxer named TOBY KING..Last known box was at Redcliffe QLD. This is my grandfather's brother and would like info and any pics that can be found for family history.
Sandy

Anonymous said...

Hi

Just hoping if anyone has heard of a tent boxer named JIM KENNA. Jim was born in Wee Waa, NSW 1910 and wound up as a camp cook at Auvergne Station in the Northern Territory, he died in katherine in1994. Does anyone have any idea when and where he joined the Troupe and how long he stayed with them?

Anonymous said...

Hello to everyone. My father was a boxer for the Jimmy Sharman troupe, I don't know anything about his boxing as he passed away when I was 12 (1965). He went under the name of Tom Perry (Tommy Folwell). If anyone has any information I would appreciate it. Also, I went to a country town of NSW and through a museum which had a section on Jimmy Sharman, model in clothes, some photos, etc.
Thankyou in advance if any info available. R.L.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi RL and good luck. Where exactly was the museum?

Anonymous said...

hi to all,this was the good old and happy days,my dad leslie bronco burns was apart of this as a boxer and helping with getting boxers together,for uncle jimmy and uncle roy bell, bronco had 8 children who loved being apart of the show screen.it is such amazing world what they do,but the sight of watching some-one fighting was not allowed to be watched by kids,and we as kids tried to get in under the side tent always got a good boot in the but and sent on our way.

Jim Belshaw said...

How fascinating anon. I do like the way this comment thread continues.

Dorothy said...

In their late teens my father Jim Milson and his cousin Tom Parrott were regulars. Eventually they had a financial arrangement with Sharman to be in the audience to step forward if no locals were available. They were good and won many bouts so the Sharman fighters always hoped the locals would be forthcoming instead. I did know that Jim and Tom had success with minor title fights but I dont have records of these. Thirty years later my father travelled with regional shows selling popcorn so at 5-7 I was well known to Sharman and was allowed to sneak in to the tent even as a little girl. I knew the ropes and kept out of sight. My dad never revealed he had been a fighter and I never let on I stole into Sharman's tent at every show. It is only this week staying with my 75yo cousin (son of Tom) that I found out about the Sharman story. I knew Dad had boxed successfully but not the Sharman connection - strange! Dorothy Milson dm11@live.com.au if anyone knows more?

Jim Belshaw said...

What a fascinating story, Dorothy. I wonder if anybody else will be able to add. These comments are actually becoming quite a resource!

judisleight@yahoo.com said...

i am 70 years old now and am still trying to locate my father. he was a boxer and in summer 1942 he met my mother marjie and she got pregnant with me. i only found this info after she passed - she left a note to tell me that my dad was a blackfella who was boxing at mordialloc carnival at that time - i have been searching everywhere to no avail - i believe his name was jimmy. please help me - my grandchildren need to know their heritage - regards judi godwin

Jim Belshaw said...

Judi, I am going to do a new post bringing together all the comments that I have received on this and other posts linked in some way to the Sharmans. Maybe that will attract further information.

Anonymous said...

Memorabilia relating to Jimmy Sharman is on display at the Temora Rural Museum (Jimmy Sharman's dressing gown, matching glove, Sharman bell, Sharman drum, boxing banners and photographs).

Regi said...

Incredible memories of Jimmy Sharmans boxers standing out the front of that great tent.The sound of the drums calling in the local boxers to have a shot. Criky, I can't be that old....? Would anyone out there remember an Aboriginal boxer(originated in Grafton)maybe Bundjalung, who worked on the wharfs in Newy,app in the early 1900's.Ha had a ring set up in Whickam,could have gone under the name.....Black Billly?....His name William(Bill) Gallegher. Any help?.Would love to hear from anyone. Regi.

Regi said...

Sorry,I spelt Wickham wrong in the last blog,also I remember a story that Bill fought an exhibition match with Les Darcy.If this was true,he would have to be bloody good or crazy to even step in the ring with such an incredible legend,let alone to box him!!! Cheers Regi

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Regi. I don't know, but if he was Banjalung and from Grafton, some of the local Aboriginal community may remember the family if not hi,. That might give a lead. May try another post on my New England blog to see if I can flush out some more.

Regi said...

Thanks for the reply Jim,I have tried the Aboriginal Council at Grafton,dead end I am afraid.I do know he worked on the wharves in Newcastle,there is someone I do know worked with him.I asked a very dear friend,he is older than I,did he know him,mainly I remember growing up with his tin lids that he also worked on the wharves,but no.(Bobby Palmer) I have always called him Mr Palmer .I loved reading about the article on Jimmy Sharman,we should never forget the legends of boxing.Any help with Bill Gallagher would be greatly appreciated as he is my real Grandfather I never new I had ????Somethings in the early fifties were frowned upon,If you know what I mean! Cheers,Regi.

Regi said...

Morning Jim,thanks for the chat,I have just been watching the future sale of a Bradman bat.Thought you may be interested in a short story about my Dad,he gave me a small bat with some signatures on it and told me to keep it!,when I decided to place it in a very nice frame,mainly to stop my son from hitting things with it,the manager from the framing store ask me did I know what I had? There is a shield with my dads name 100 not out,Newcastle Tramways ...5/2/40 and all the signatures of his team ??? WRONG !!! Because Dad needed a four for his 100 and to win on the last ball,he did get his four.So it was signed by Ausy and pom team with Don Bradmans signature at the top.Made of English Willow. I am still searching for info on my REAL grandfather,apparently I am called a creamy,dads from yorkshire and mum mmmm,well,my Nan used to sing a song to me....go to sleep my little picanini ......... Cheers Jim.......Regi.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's fascinating, Regi. You are not alone on the picanini front. It's interesting that with shifting social attitudes, something similar happened with convict ancestry, a remarkable number are now searching out and claiming their Aboriginal ancestry.

Regi said...

Morning Jim,I have been researching the signatures on the Bat my father left me,the signatures on the bat are defiantly the Aus & England side from 1938-40,naturally no tests I'm sure played in the 1940's due to the war. I also have read about yourself,you are a very busy and articulate man, I appreciate your time replying to my,must seem funny,chats as this is the first time that I have ever divulged such information to anyone.Can I send you a photo of this cherished item? Cheers, Regi

Jim Belshaw said...

Love to get it Regi. My email is ndarala(at)optusnet(dot)com(dot)au

Regi said...

Sorry Jim, could not get through to that email,send a test to john@jarvie.com.au

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather (Hedley Cobb) fought under the name of Billy Carroll and spent some time in the Sharman Circus... here his a link to his Box Rec page.

http://boxrec.com/media/index.php?title=Human:203056

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi anon and sorry for my slow response. That's fantastic. Another Sharman connection, but also a Newcastle one. So may of the Sharman boxers seem to have ended up in Newcastle. That's an impression, I haven't analysed all the comments.

Anonymous said...

Blood & Tinsel: Memoirs
Sharman, Jim
Book published in 2009
Pictures and stories, thru generations of Sharman's
Available on line

Anonymous said...

Hi, looking for information about my grandfather Clever Pat Clayton, he and his sons boxed for Jimmy Sharman..tipsycuttlefish@gmail.com

Phillippa Biggs said...

Hi would appreciate if anyone has any history or photo's of when the Toby family of 3 men from Mount Morgan who fought for the Jimmy Sharman tent. Trying to gather history together for family

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Phillipa. Hope that some one responds.

Kim Good said...

i am after any information on a darky cook also known as richard cook who fought for the Jimmy Sharman tent. Trying to gather history together for family

Anonymous said...

Did Dave Sands ever fight for Sharman? I think a couple of the brothers did.
Munz

Jim Belshaw said...

I think he did, Munz, but I need to check.

Peter said...

Can anyone tell me if the above photo includes Jackie Green on the far right hand side of the photo...would be very interested to receive any comments, photo links associated with him. My sister married his eldest son, and when i was young he would make so much time for me...was such a wonderful man. I would love to suprise my brother in law with any of the above. Pete Maitland NSW

Janet Butler said...

Hi Everyone, I'm looking for information on my Pop who fought for Jim Sr. on the Riverina circuit of shows. My Pop's name was Wilfred (Bill) Turner but apparently he was known as "Half Round" because that's all the opponents could last in the ring against him. Trying to complete the line for my family heritage. Thanks in Advance for any information I can get.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Peter and Janet. We are getting lots of feedback from people looking for relies, nonw from people who might answer the questions posed. There are so many requests now that I need to run them as a stand-alone post.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am looking for any info on my Dad and his 2 brothers that fought in Sharmans tent in Gunnedah. Richard, Ken and Phil Poulter around the 1950's. Would love any help thanks, Sue, suanneandwayne@hotmail.com

Jim Belshaw said...

Wish you luck, Sue!