Alice Springs has a proud history of amateur boxing – a lot of it practiced on the street and a long way from anything resembling a boxing ring – but there hasn’t been an organised bout in Alice Springs for many years so many locals were well pleased to see the return of boxing to central Australia this weekend.
Over two nights the Alice Springs Convention Centre was packed with locals keen to see the fine art of all things pugilist back in town. I’ve not been to a boxing tournament before and could only make it to the Friday night bouts but I was impressed not only by the enthusiasm of the crowds but also the skills on display and the willingness of all the boxers to put as much hurt on their opponents as possible.
The program for the weekend’s entertainment noted that boxing in Alice Springs (the formal kind anyway) started in the late 1940s in an ex-army “Sydney Williams” hut at the base of Anzac Hill and was a keenly followed sport in the town until interest in the sport fell away in the 1970s and 19080s.
Two years ago the Red Desert boxing club began training local boxers and recently affiliated with the Australian Amateur Boxing Association, opening the door for locals keen to put on the gloves and indulge in a bit of legalised biffo. For this weekend’s tournament a ring (quite an elaborate and valuable item) was brought down from Darwin and a number of fighters came from all over the country to appear at the first tournament that Alice Springs has hosted for many years.
Also in attendance was a large contingent of Irish boxers from the famous St Joseph’s club based in the west country of Ireland. Of the thirteen fights on Friday night one included a fight between Maria Faney of St Josephs and Maria Pittiglio from New South Wales.
The action in the ring was frantic and furious and sometimes hard to catch with a camera so I concentrated on how the boxers looked before and after their bouts and between each round.
Here are some of my pictures from the evening: