The Auckland Boxing Association kicked its 2007 season off by hosting an international amateur bout at their stadium on Saturday February 24, between current New Zealand singlet wearing light heavyweight champion Zig Zag Wallace (yes, that’s his right name) and New South Wales State champion at the same weight, Matthew Corbett, from Magpie territory, Croydon, Sydney.
The Aussie finished strongly, winning the last round easily and appeared to have won a close contest but failed to get the decision from the ringside judges. However, a mistake on one of the official scorecards was discovered and the decision reversed the next day. A fair enough result.
The show was promoted by Balmoral trainer, Lollo Heimuli (better known in kickboxing circles) and featured twelve amateur bouts and Polynesian food served to ringsiders. A good sized crowd attended despite nearby alternative attractions of Super 14 rugby union and pop concerts.
Three deaths last month thinned the ranks of glovedom.
Formidable former Kiwis rugby league prop Doug Gaily was the first to greet the grim reaper. Gaily was one of the hardest of hard men. He is well known to Aussie league fans for his clashes with Kangaroo legends Artie Beetson and John O’Neill. He tangled with Beetson at Carlaw Park in a trans-tasman test and the South Sydney enforcer John O’Neill at North Sydney Oval in a pre-season game. His clash with O’Neill was lovingly played over and over again by Channel 9.
Gailey, a bricklayer, was still turning out for his local side Ellerslie Eagles well into his 30’s in the mid-80’s.
But Doug had also won an Auckland Intermediate middleweight title in the 1960’s, a period in New Zealand boxing when an Auckland title meant something.
He was a paid up member of the Auckland Boxing Association till 1991, and was a regular patron at the stadium particularly when Marty Sullivan was fighting.
Doug Godward also passed away last month. He was a top Auckland amateur welterweight, who won numerous Auckland titles before turning pro in 1947. A scientific boxer who fought behind a stiff left jab, the Lew Hoad look-alike used to pack out the Auckland Town hall. Which proves a point I often argue, that boxing fans while loving a slugger also appreciates the classic boxer which is why boxers like Hockey Bennell, Ken Bailey, Johnny Famechon (Australia), Barry Brown, Billy Beazley (NZ) and Chuck Davey (USA) were such big drawcards.
Among the good pro scalps Doug took were two New Zealand champions Ian Cruickshank and Noel Fitzwater.
He also won a controversial bout to Clem Sands (of the famous Australian fighting family) when he was a mile in front coming into the last round only to have referee Eric Armishaw stop the contest with 17 seconds remaining on the clock after an onslaught from the Aboriginal fighter. Hard-punching George Kapeen, later Australian welterweight champion, also stopped him.
He was a popular publican at Auckland’s Britomart Hotel in the 1970’s and later moved to Surfer’s Paradise where he sold real estate.
Reg Clapp, well-known trotting caller on radio and TV, and ring announcer at the Auckland Town Hall bouts in the 1940s and 1950s has also passed on. Reg was a long-time member of the ABA and a committee member for many years.