Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing

Sports & Philharmonic Society

Boxing in 1920s

Philharmonic Society - 1925-


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Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing-Sports by Ann Gugler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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Boxing in Canberra 1920s


Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 3 June 1926


It will be of interest to residents of Queanbeyan and Canberra to know that the first boxing contest to be held at Canberra will be staged in the Causeway Hall Eastlake, on the 17th instant under the supervision of the Canberra Fire Brigade Recreation Club.  The principals of the main fight will be Bert Horne of Queanbeyan and Jack Keogh of Canberra both well-known heavyweights and each the possessor of a hefty punch in either hand. Horne is very well known both in Queanbeyan and Canberra and his record speaks for itself.  Among those he has met and defeated are: Bill Blackall, Joe Green, Bill Edwards and Bill Butler and a number of other good men.  His opponent Keogh, is an ex-naval man and during his service with our Navy held the heavyweight championship of the Navy.  Since joining the professional ranks he has met and defeated Jack Hilt, Bill Butler, Bill Brody and a host of others, most contests ending in the ko route. There will also be two good preliminaries between some well-known local lads, and in addition an exhibition of hits and stops by Archie Hamilton, one-time middle-weight champion and Roy Hopkins. Referee, A Hamilton. Ring Fire Station, Canberra for reserves.

Federal Capital Pioneer  24 July 1926


If all the boxing contests were conducted as cleanly and in the capable manner in which the two recently staged by the Canberra Fire Brigade Recreation Club were, opposition from certain quarters would be as a premium. The committee are to be congratulated on their well organized venture. In upholding ‘clean boxing’ we do so in the interests of a virile manly, plucky race of future Australians. There is no more humiliating spectacle one can witness than a big robust man submitting to abuse and insult from a less robust bully, because the big man is afraid.  Afraid of what?  Afraid that he cannot defend himself because he has never been taught to do so.

Ladies who hold up their hands in horror at the thought of a  boxing contest will organize concerts, distribute cigarettes and comforts to men going to war to defend them, aye, suffer and die, and yet are aghast at the mention of boxing where men meet not to kill.

If these ladies were in a train carriage or some public place where they could not escape hearing abusive language from a wastrel, in manhood form and saw a dozen men allowing it to proceed, would they not at once say<’Why don’t you stop that man?’  The man who does quickly to stop him is the man who has learned to defend himself. He has the confidence that he can master the low-tongued bully.

A stranger disturbs a church service – who in congregation is looked for the remove the disturber? It is the man they all know who has proved that he can defend himself.

One of the happiest memories of the writer’s school days was when, at an interview with the principal of a boarding school he was about to be sent to, the principal mentioned ‘gymnastics’ among the ‘extra,’ followed by the query, ‘Have you any objection to your son learning boxing?’ My late pater’s words were like gold to me, ‘Certainly,’ he answered, ‘let him learn – it prevents a boy being called a coward when he grows up.’

Let the Canberra Fire Brigade Recreation Club keep their fights clean. Keep the man dodging from town to town living on ‘a silver shower’ out of the hempen ring.  There are dozens of strapping district lads who would give a good display and at the same time improve their knowledge of the art of self-defence. Anzacs were fighter. ‘Aussies’ who wrote ‘Australia big on the fields of Flanders, France, Palestine and other places were fighters. Carlyle truly said, ‘Man is a religious animal. Man is also a fighting animal’; and Carlyle was right even though the word ‘animal’ was wrong. If in the future these contests are played low, ‘The Pioneer’ will not hesitate to say so, but while they are conducted on a clean level these two displays were, they have our cordial commendation. Boxing teaches how to give and take; builds up a strong body. The boxer is a trained man; he has to live clean to keep fit; and he must train to endure.  Is there a man in Queensland who does not know of the late ‘Fighting Parson’ Sams, who accomplished so much in his work among shearers and bushmen?  He preached to them after their day’s work, and produced the gloves and had friendly bouts with them after.  When the war broke out he pleaded with the Anglican Bishop to allow him to go as a chaplain. He was told, ‘Your work is here.’ But Sams was ‘a fighting parson,’ and he resigned to the sorrow of Queensland bushmen, took the first boat home to join his country in England, enlisted and joined the ‘Old Contemptibles’ and in the Mons retreat he faces the Huns. He fell and French soil is enriched with a noble and brave man.

Chief Fire Officer PC Douglas controlled the contests.  Mr Archie Hamilton ex heavy weight champion of NSW but now Leading Fireman attached to Canberra Fire Brigade, was ring referee and his decisions won approval from the large crown that filled the hall. Mr W Maloney, hon secretary, ably administered by his committee had all arrangements to meet the demand for accommodation well in hand. Among those present were Sir John Harrison and Mr CH Gorman, Commissioners. A letter from Mr JH Butters, chairman of the Federal Capital Commission expressed his regret that through official duties he was unable to attend.  Following were the results:

First Bout

·         K Dencio (9st 5lb) White City

·         VG Manner (9st 3lb) Capitol Hill

A clean contest which went four rounds, Manner being the better boxer and scored most of his points in the last round. Referee Hamilton gave Manner the ‘head pat’ signifying him as the winner.

Second Bout

·         Les Graham (9st 3lb) (Causeway)

·         Jack Brown (9st) (Queanbeyan)

Though Graham showed pluck and stamina y9oung Brown was evidently more used to ring craft. Though very willing while it lasted, Graham was outclassed but not disgraced. It lasted only two rounds when Graham seconds signified that their pupil had met his master and Brown was declared the winner.

The Principal Bout

·         Bert Horne (12st 7lb) (Queanbeyan)

·         Jack Keogh (11st 11lb) (Canberra)

Before the contest a flashlight snap was taken of the principals in the ring.  Horne was stockily built and Keogh seemed to be giving away more that the weights showed. The pace was willing from the first sound of the gong, and as the rounds progressed Keogh’s boxing and footwork seemed to be points in the lead. Horne is a rugged fighter and had not the footwork of his opponent. He wasted much energy in swings and uppercuts that whirled in space instead of connecting with Keogh’s face. In the eleventh round, a right to the jaw sent Keogh to the eight count after a ding donging round. Referee Archie Hamilton wisely stopped the contest and declared Horne the winner.

This brought to a close the first official boxing contest at Canberra and all present were satisfied they had the worth of their money and more.

Federal Capital Pioneer 20 August 1926


Another crowded hall proving the popularity of the club’s endeavour to present clean sport, fair contests and able exponents of the art of self-defence to the residents of Canberra, where young men find evenings for them are not catered for as they should be.

Without doubt the excellent arrangements and clean boxing at the inaugural venture gave enthusiasts the desire to see more.

Chief Officer Perc Douglas was in charge of arrangements. Secretary Maloney had his committee well organized and Archie Hamilton as referee handled the fights in a capable and fair manner. The audience was thoroughly representative of all classes on the Territory and was not marred by one discordant note.

Preliminary Bout

V Shea (10.7) of Queanbeyan seemed in a heavier class to E Mott (9.4) when they faced each oteher for the first bout. It was a willing go and at times Mott, though giving away weight and reach, was bale by better footwork to make Shea’s thinking machine buss. Eventually in the fourth round and the last, after a ding-dong rally, Shea’s weight and that only, told. Referee Hamilton rightly gave the decision on points to Shea.

Second Bout

Having seen both boxers at the previous contest win from their opponents, the interest in the bout between Dencio (9.6) of Queanbeyan, and Brown (9.4) of the same town, was very keen. The two meant business and the first two rounds left the onlookers in doubt as both were getting in good work at every opportunity. In the third round Brown was the first to show traces of ‘bellow to ken’ but was still fighting and keeping Dencio worried with some neat body blows. When the gong sounded for the eighth and last round, both looked as though it would be a case of endurance. Dencio advised from his corner, waded in and Brown also, amid encouragements for his corner seemed to take on a new lease of vigor, but both men faded away, and if the right punch had been landed at this stage it was any man’s win. Both were done when the gong sounded and Referee Hamilton gave a just decision in favor of Dencio, but he was well tried out for his win.

The Principal Bout

The much talked of contest between Bill Butler (12.2) of Sydney and Bert Horne (12.10) of Queanbeyan had the audience on tip-toe of expectation. A canard to the effect that Butler had not trained was soon blown to the winds when he entered the ring and threw off his wraps and it was at once seen he was in the pink of condition.  Horne’s extra weight made him appear a hefty proposition against the lighter yet compactly built Butler.  After the usual flashlight photo and announcements of further contests by Mr P Douglas who thanked the audience for their attendance and approval of a clean sport, Referee Hamilton soon had the men to work. 

In the opening rounds Horne was the more aggressive. Butler on the alert for any loose opening and right through it was very noticeable that when Butler hit he put solid weight into his punches. Horne made a few wild swings into open space, thanks to Butler’s clever footwork.  As the rounds proceeded, it was evident Horne was tiring and Butler was warming up to his work.  But the end was in view, in the eleventh round, after Butler had let himself go in the tenth round and dealt out full measure, to which Horne, though heavier, was giving ground and evading his opponent. When the gong sounded for the eleventh round, Horne intimated he had enough and Referee Hamilton proclaimed Butler the winner.

It was a fine exhibition of boxing and all the events were cleanly contested.

The Canberra Times 10 September 1926


The boxing contest of 15 rounds between ‘Kid’ Dencio, the present holder of the Richardson Light Weight Championship Belt of the Federal Territory and Jack Smith (challenger) is to eventuate of Thursday September 16 at the Causeway Hall.  This event is under the auspices of the Canberra Fire Brigade Recreation Club and should attract a large audience.

Among other items on the programme are an eight rounds contest between Roy Hopkins and Les Graham and a wrestling exhibition by Stan Ward, light heavyweight champion of the Goulburn Valley. The public is notifice that the first bout starts at 7.45pm sharp.

West Australian (Perth WA) 13 April 1927


In conjunction with the forthcoming visit of the Duke and Duchess of York an energetic committee has recently been organizing a comprehensive programme of events to coincide with the arrival of the Royal visitors. Following a conference that took place last week between representatives of the Perth and Children’s Hospitals, Mr AF Whyte Gourley, Present of the WA Amateur Boxing Association was appointed engineer-in-chief of the competitions to be arranged between boxers from the HMS Renown and HMAS Sydney and the local boys. All the proceeds derived from the tournament will be directed to charitable purposed…

The Sydney Morning Herald 21 May 1927



Sir,- During the opening of Canberra we heard a lot about our White Australia Policy, and our visitors appreciation of it. It they had gone to our boxing stadium they would have seen two black men boxing for the Championship of Australia. We have had visits from many coloured boxers and at present we have in Sydney Sunny [?] Jim Williams, ‘Prince’ McGale, Tiger Payne, Charlie Long.

It would be interesting to know under what agreement these men enter the Commonwealth and how long they are supposed to stay. I may say that I am a follower of boxing but do not attend matches when a black man is one of the principals.

I am, etc AW

The Canberra Times 30 November 1928


Pitted against an opponent of wider experience, greater aggressiveness, skill and stamina, ‘Kid’ Dencio was defeated by Jerry Gardiner, the Newcastle lightweight at the Capitol Theatre last night. The contest went the full 15 rounds…

‘Kid’ encio

Following are a number of articles that refer to a boxer by the name of ‘Kid’ Dencio.  The ‘Kid’ Dencio that I first came in contact with in the pages of Canberra Community News was the Light-weight Champion of the Federal Capital Territory.  He lived at White City Camp and was a boxer of some renown.  The following articles, with the exception of the local ones, may not refer to our ‘Kid’ Dencio.  Family members still live in Canberra and when Westlake, One of the Vanished Suburbs of Canberra Gugler – was launched in the Causeway Hall in 1997 the belt the Richardson Light Weight Champion Belt was brought along for display. 

The Argus (Melbourne) 20 May 1921

BOXING…The fiercest brawl ever taken part in by the junior ‘Carpentier’ the astounding young Frenchman Eugene Criqui – and the solid steel coloured marvel from Manila, Dencio…

The Sydney Morning Herald 2nd July 1931

NEWTOWN STADIUM MATCHES – Kid Dencio, a Filipino featherweight champion of Australia will meet Benny Ward in the principal contest; …

Cairns Post 5 August 1937

Two more Filipino boxers are enroute to Australia. One is ‘Young’ Dencio, son of the great but ill-fated Dencio who won many stirring bouts in Australia 16 years ago only to collapse and die following a bout with Bert McCarthy at Melbourne Stadium. In his 19 contests Dencio has won 17 by the ko route, one point win and one draw…

The Argus 25 June 1949

HE WAS ONCE THE PRIDE OF THE CORREGIDOR..Jerry Monahan who had 150 fights in the Philippines…He has no hesitation in stating that Young Dencio (Dencio Cabancia) was the best Filipino he ever fought…  


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