June 16, 2014
Cherbourg’s Ration Shed Museum will be opening a new exhibition during NAIDOC Week in the old Boys’ Dormitory building.
“Play the Ball” is a photographic, multi-media and oral history exhibition that tells the story of sport in Cherbourg.
There’s a Rugby League Room, featuring a video loop and photos and artefacts from 100 years of the sport in Cherbourg, a Hall of Fame, a timeline which traces the sporting history of the town, a marching girls display, a boxing display, a community wall and sporting artefacts.
The launch of the exhibition on July 7 will be a key part of Cherbourg’s NAIDOC celebrations. The exhibition will be open to the public from July 8.
Ahead of the exhibition, local journalist Marcus Priaulx reflects on Cherbourg’s proud history in the boxing ring:
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by Marcus Priaulx*
Cherbourg boxers ruled the nation when their sport was probably the most popular in the country during the 1960s.
Jimmy Edwards, Adrian Blair and Jeffrey Dynevor went to the Empire (Commonwealth) Games as Australian Champions in 1962 and Dynevor came home with gold.
Dynevor was the first Aborigine to win a gold medal in any sport at such a games, but former Australian professional champion Arthur “Bullet” Bradley says Edwards was actually the best boxer to come out of the town.
“He should’ve fought (world welterweight professional champion) Emile Griffith and was one of Australia’s best ever fighters,” Bullet said.
“But he wouldn’t train. He was an absolute freak.”
(Bantamweight) Dynevor and (Lightweight) Blair were noted hard trainers and did so under the eye of Bobby Barkle who accompanied them as national coach to Perth, along with Kingaroy Aboriginal boxer Eddie Barney.
Blair also went to the 1964 Olympics where he won his first fight before losing to eventual Russian silver medallist, Velikton Barannikov.
Along with Dynevor he would travel to Kingaroy to train at the old council chambers behind the Carrollee Hotel.
It was a small gym with a ring in the middle and was always packed to capacity.
“The Cherbourg boys would drive along the old forestry road from Wondai to train and spar,” Bullet said.
Kingaroy businesses would sponsor their trips away as boxing “was the number 1 sport in those days”.
Cherbourg tournaments, held in the Kingaroy town hall, would always be full and men would “belt bondship into each other and have a drink afterwards”.
“There was a competitive spirit but terrific sportsmanship,” Bullet, who admittedly felt scared before facing a Cherbourg fighter, said.
“You could hardly hit them in the first round they were that quick,” he said.
“We really admired them and they were happy-go-lucky blokes; tough.”
To this day Bullet, who has seen thousands of fights, reckons the one of the best ever was between Jimmy Edwards and Adrian Blair.
“It was at Cherbourg,” he said.
“The crowd just erupted. It was awesome.
“Jimmy was quicker and too good but it was mayhem; action packed.
“You couldn’t hear the bloke beside you talk.”
* Marcus Priaulx knows his way around a boxing ring himself. He represented Australia as a Bantamweight at the 1988 Seoul Olympics