Bell tolls for
Vic Patrick, the greatest of all
and Peter Kogoy as seen in
One of the best left hands in the sport: A world war prevented Vic
Patrick, seen here in 1943, from fighting overseas
Boxer. Born: Victor Lucca, Sydney June 2, 1920 Died: Sydney, August 11
2006. Fight record: 52 wins (45ko), 4 losses, 1 draw.
VIC PATRICK never won a world
title, but he will be remembered as arguably the greatest boxer Australia
Patrick was the sport's biggest
drawcard during the golden era of the 1940s, regularly selling out Sydney
Stadium, the old "tin shed", at Rushcutters Bay.
It is believed he died from
pneumonia at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney last Friday night at the
age of 86.
Inducted into the Australian
Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003 along with Les Darcy, Jimmy Carruthers, Dave
Sands, Jeff Fenech, Lionel Rose and Barry Michael, Patrick had much in
common with Darcy.
Patrick and Darcy were the best
Australians never to win a world title, both coming into their prime during
a world war.
Many believe Patrick would have
beaten world champion Ike Williams if given the opportunity.
After Patrick's epic defeat of
Tommy Burns with a ninth-round knockout for the Australian welterweight
title in 1946, referee Joe Wallis said Patrick was as great as Darcy.
"He was a southpaw with a
punishing rip," recalls historian Ernie McQuillan, whose father Ern trained
Patrick throughout his career.
"Vic should be remembered as
Australia's best. His death is a huge blow to the sport.
"Vic was a great, great fighter.
He had one of the best left hands in the business.
"If Vic hit an opponent on the
chin, he stayed hit. His death leaves a huge void."
Patrick once said that beating
American Tod Morgan, a one-time world title-holder, for the Australian
lightweight title in 1941 was his greatest victory.
Patrick will also be remembered
for one of the four fights he lost, to flamboyant American Freddie Dawson in
Dawson, the number one contender
in the world, continually poked his tongue out at Patrick, who knocked him
through the ropes in the 11th round with his trademark left hook.
maintained he would probably have won by a knockout if radio caller Reg
Grundy had not pushed Dawson back into the ring after the American fell on
his ringside microphone.
Patrick, who won by knockout an
extraordinary 45 times in 52 wins, was surprised when Dawson got back up and
then knocked him out in the 12th round.
It was Patrick's last defeat. He
was taken to hospital and was never the same boxer again.
"Vic was ahead on points on my
dad's card coming to the 11th round," McQuillan said. "Dad's instructions to
Vic were to box him and to use the ring."
Fenech, a three-time world
champion, regards Patrick as the greatest boxer Australia produced, despite
him not having won a world title.
"There was no better puncher than
Vic," Fenech said. "In my book I don't think there was ever a more popular
fighter than Vic. He filled the old Sydney Stadium on his own.
"If a new and untried fighter
came to my gym tomorrow and asked to be trained, I'd tell him to go away and
read the book on Vic Patrick's life.
"He and I became great friends
and his passing leaves a large void in my life."
The youngest of 11 children,
Patrick was born Victor Patrick Lucca in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, in 1920.
His father Salvatore was an
illiterate Italian migrant, who became a fisherman on Sydney's harbour and
the Hawkesbury River where Patrick worked on his brother-in-law's oyster
Everyone in Brooklyn knew when
Patrick was on the river because they could hear him singing The
Balalaika in a beautiful tenor voice.
His mother Maria wanted him to
train as a singer, but he took up boxing when he was almost 20 after
learning that a preliminary boxer could earn a pound for fighting four
rounds, which was more than half a week's pay.
The story goes that Patrick
fought his first three bouts under the name Alf Edwards so his mother would
not know he was boxing.
He then fought under his
Christian names, perhaps because of the sensitivities surrounding World War
II when Australia was at war with Italy.
Patrick's first fight was against
Les Shocker at Sydney's Carlton Stadium in 1940, knocking him out in the
He won his first 21 fights,
including 20 by knockout, before losing a controversial points decision to
Morgan at Leichhardt Stadium on June 5, 1941.
Redeeming himself just 28 days
later, Patrick reversed the decision against Morgan to claim the Australian
The pair were to meet in the ring
twice more -- both decisions going Patrick's way.
Patrick won the Australian
welterweight title in 1942 from Ron McLaughlin and held the Australian light
and welterweight titles when those divisions attracted some of Australia's
finest talent, but World War II ensured he didn't fight overseas.
Retaining the lightweight title
until his retirement in 1948, and relinquishing the welterweight one in
1946, Patrick never lost a fight in defence of either.
After he retired, Patrick became
a respected referee, controlling bouts featuring world champions Sandro
Mazzinghi and Lionel Rose as well as Rocky Gattellari, Tony Mundine and
He was inducted into the Sports
Australia Hall of Fame and received the OAM.
His wife Nancy -- they were
childhood sweethearts -- died several years ago. He is survived by his
daughters, Vicki and Ann.
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