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NEWS RELEASE

Date Released: December 20, 2006

 

BOXER DAVE SANDS MEMORIAL UPGRADE CEREMONY

 

 

(Glebe, Sydney) At a public ceremony at the corner of Broadway and Glebe Point Road in Glebe yesterday, an upgraded memorial plaque to Aboriginal boxing hero Dave Sands (Ritchie) was unveiled.  The event was attended by over 120 ex boxers, fans, colleagues,  Aboriginal identities and community leaders. 

 

For cleared images of the ceremony please click on the following links:

 

1.  Unveiling of the plaque by George Bracken and Joan Laming

 - www.offstick.com.au/311.jpg (Credit Solua Middleton)

 

 

2.  The Dave Sands Memorial Plaque

 - www.offstick.com.au/211.jpg (Credit Gary Wilcox)

 

 

3.  Heavyweight contender Bob "The Eagle" Mirovic, George Bracken and Lyle Munro

  (photo: Credit Gary Wilcox)

 

At the time of his death in a truck accident at age 26 at Dungog, near Newcastle, Dave Sands was rated the # 3 Middleweight contender in the World behind Champion Sugar Ray Robinson and had scored his 97th victory (62 ko) against 10 defeats and a draw.

 

In his 11 year career, Sands held the Australian Middle, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Titles and won the Commonwealth Middleweight Title.   He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997. 

 

“Dave Sands was spoken about as ‘the second fire of London’” said boxing historian and author of The Fighting Sands, Michael J Clarke OAM.  “Dave’s successful bouts in the country set London ablaze”.

 

As Empire Middleweight Champion Dave was due to fight for the world middleweight belt before his untimely death in a driving accident in 1952.

 

In 1952, Dave’s friend and ex opponent Tom Laming Snr, erected a memorial plaque in Dave Sand’s memory.  The original plaque ceremony was attended by Tom’s wife Joan Laming and 56 years later she was again present and together with Aboriginal boxing hero George Bracken performed the unveiling. “Dave Sands was a great Australian sportsman who captured the imagination of my father and his whole generation in the boxing industry” said son Tom Laming Jnr who spoke in tribute.

 

Event MC Claude Williams and co-presenter of the Sweet Science boxing show on Koori Radio said “The unveiling ceremony for the upgraded plaque is a symbol of our commitment to remember and celebrate the great heroes in our community”.

 

“I earned five times as much from winning one boxing duel, than from working a week on the farm” said the ex-Australian lightweight champion  of the 1950's George Bracken.  “The sport gave Aboriginals opportunities to travel and improve their financial status  and the humility shown by Dave and his brothers was an inspiration to my career 

 

The event was opened by Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council chairperson Rob Welsh and community leader Lyall Munro who said “ Led by Dave Sands and Ron Richards,  Aboriginal boxers were the early heroes and warriors who led us off the missions with their successes.  Dave helped us believe that we could compete 

 

General Manager of Gadigal Information Services and co-presenter of the Sweet Science Radio Show Brad Cooke said    Led by Dave Sands Aboriginal Australia has and continues to  contribute  to the success of Australian boxing on the world stage.  The unveiling today was an opportunity to remember one of the sport's greats.  As the plaque reads – a great Australian and gentlemen, one of nature’s greatest.”

 

Hosted by Gadigal Information Service (Koori Radio), The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and the City of Sydney, the event also commemorated Dave Sands’ 80th birthday year.

 

For a cleared image of Dave Sands please click on the following link:

Photo Credit : Michael J. Clarke

 

 

About Dave Sands:     

Acknowledgment (Michael J. Clarke – Author of The History of the Fighting Sands Brothers)

Born David Ritchie in 1926 at Burnt Bridge near Kempsey, he and his five brothers took on the Sands name, taken off a train guard who helped Percy Ritchie, the second oldest, travel to

fight fare free in 1940.  Proud representatives of the Dunghutti people, the Fighting Sands Brothers are arguably Australia’s greatest sporting family.

 

At the time of his death in a truck accident at 26 at Dungog, near Newcastle, Dave Sands was rated the # 3 Middleweight contender in the World behind Champion Sugar Ray Robinson and had scored his 97th victory (62 KO’s) against 10 defeats and a draw.

In his 11 year career, Sands held the Australian Middle, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Titles and won the Commonwealth Middleweight Title by knocking out Dick Turpin, brother of Randolph in one round in 1949 in England. He beat future Middleweight Champion and Hall of Famer, Carl (Bobo) Olson twice, first in Sydney and then in Chicago.  Olson, standing in the Madison Square Garden ring after he had won the vacant world crown in 1953 said: "if Dave Sands was alive, this title would be his". In 1950 and 1951 Dave won the Sports Novel public vote for Sportsman of the year over Clive Churchill, Neil Harvey and Keith Miller. 

The man the Americans called the "boxer with the educated left hand" received his due when he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998 at a ceremony held in Los Angeles and there can be no greater tribute than that provided by a sportsman's peers.

 

The following Daily Mirror Tribute was printed the day after his funeral.

 

"I suppose there never was a world-class fighter who was more modest, less affected by the glitter and glamour of it than Dave. In his whole career there was never a nasty whisper about him. And who'll forget the Empire, Australian and so on Champion saying after a big fight, "well, got to be getting home", sleeping like a baby on a bench at Central Railway Station and then climbing onto a paper train which carried him and news of another great win the draughty hundred miles back to Newcastle.  When our children are old, old people, they'll still be talking about this gentleman of the ring."

 

For further information or photos please contact: 

 

Patrick Skene

Event Manager and Producer

Sweet Science Radio Show  - www.gadigal.org.au/sweetscience 

M: 0405 406 088
E: pskene@offstick.com.au
 

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