A trip to Queensland in early March, has led me to find out about one of the finest professional boxers that has entered the ring in New Zealand, and a long time Christchurch gym that I had little or no knowledge of.
Attendance at a Caloundra Boxing Club tournament on the Sunshine Coast, resulted in me meeting a real Aussie character, who had fond memories of fighting two of the Kiwi greats of the time, in New Zealand
Arthur “Bullet” Bradley, who ended with a record that suggested he was a journeyman, fought the best feather and lightweights in Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s.
A look at his record, revealed that he had twice fought for the Australian lightweight title, and annexed the Queensland featherweight crown. He fought in New Zealand three times, locking horns with Toro George on two occasions, and meeting Dion Murphy in his Christchurch fortress of Canterbury Court.
A sprightly 71 years of age, Arthur refereed several of the Caloundra fights and judged a number of others. His first questions were about the plight of Christchurch, and he then asked about Dion Murphy.
It was only when I got home, that I realised what an outstanding professional career that Dion Murphy put together, before being one of the few top quality pugilists to retire undefeated.
In just four years, the “Golden Boy” put together a remarkable winning streak of seventeen victories, without tasting defeat. Not only did he defeat all comers, who came to Christchurch to try to rip away his undefeated record – but he numbered future World Champion Johnny Famechon amongst his triumphs.
The thread from Bullet Bradley to Dion Murphy, then ran to a Christchurch boxing institution that lost their building in the big quake, where Dion Murphy started his amateur career.
I was absolutely amazed when I went on the Crichton Cobbers website, and learnt a little of the long time organisation that started in 1926, with the aim of simply taking boys of street corners (sounds like the philosophy of many of today’s boxing gyms).
Over the years the emphasis has remained on the traditional strengths of the club, in providing excellent tuition in physical sports like wrestling, boxing, weight lifting and Judo.
While the club is down they are certainly not out for the count, and we all hope they will rebound back to where they were prior to the earthquake.
John Mitchell has provided me with some additional information. Dion Murphy fought out of Crichton Cobbers, when he won the New Zealand Amateur lightweight title, in 1961 in Invercargill (defeating Gary Young from Auckland in the final).
John tells me when Dion fought Arthur Bradley, he was cornered by John’s father Ron Mitchell and Martin Maunsell. John still has the program from the fight, on the 1st October 1964, with the photo of two (then) very young looking boxers inside.