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Mitta Dynevor … A Champion Remembered

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Arthur "Bullet" Bradley won this trophy when he defeated Jeffrey "Mitta" Dynevor in a bout at Cherbourg ... he placed it on his grave on Saturday

June 16, 2015

Friends, family members and former boxers honoured a sometimes forgotten South Burnett sportsman on Saturday … gold-medal winning boxer Jeffrey “Mitta” Dynevor (1938-2008).

The Boxing Supporters Association of Qld Inc raised funds to place a special commemorative tombstone on Mitta’s grave in Cherbourg Cemetery to honour the man who became the first Aboriginal boxer to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Mitta took up boxing in the 1950s and won the Australian Amateur Flyweight title in 1957-59 and again in 1961 (despite chopping off the top of a finger in a workplace accident at the Cherbourg Joinery).

In 1962,¬†along with fellow Cherbourg boxers Adrian Blair and Eddie Barney, he competed at the Commonwealth Games in Perth but it was Mitta who came home with gold after defeating Ghana’s Samuel Abbey in the final.

(At the time, Mitta was hailed as the first Aboriginal person to win gold, but he was actually the second, missing out by just a week. Gold-medal winning high jumper Percy Hobson’s Aboriginality was hidden by Games’ officials at the time as he could “pass” as European.)

Cherbourg’s Ration Shed Museum has a corner in the Boys Dormitory devoted to Jeffrey Dynevor and it was this display which indirectly led to Saturday’s commemoration.

Teacher Leonie Airdre was visiting the museum with a group of schoolchildren from Redcliffe when she heard Cherbourg Elder and museum volunteer Eric Law tell Mitta’s story, and comment he had almost been forgotten by the wider community.

“I got a bit emotional,” Eric admitted.¬†“We have a lot of champions at Cherbourg but in my opinion this fellow was the absolute best.”

What Eric didn’t realise was Leonie had strong connections to the Queensland boxing community.

“I went home and rang (former Australian light heavyweight champion) Steve Aczel who put me on to Leo Beutel from the Boxing Supporters Association of Queensland,” Leonie said.

That got the ball rolling just six months ago.

Steve Aczel was amongst a string of former boxers who made the pilgrimage to Cherbourg on Saturday to visit Mitta’s grave and to share reminiscences.

Another was former Kingaroy boxer Arthur “Bullet” Bradley, who was a contemporary of Mitta and a pall-bearer at his funeral.

He had a special tribute to share … a trophy that he won after beating Mitta on points in a bout at Cherbourg.

“I have come today to give it back to him,” Bullet said.

The graveside commemoration included tributes from relatives and friends, a song by fellow boxer Steven “Duker” Hart and then the grand unveiling of the new tombstone.

Former boxer James Stanley, from Murgon, recalled the help that Mitta had given him after bouts.

And he remembered how he was always reminded he was fighting for all Aboriginal people.

“He was the measure of what I wanted to be. He was a great man, a great fighter,” James said.

James’ father, Warry John Stanley, added: “He hasn’t gone with the wind. His spirit is in the wind all around us.”

Footnote: Bullet Bradley will have a celebration of his own next month. The former boxer is being inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame at Yatala.

Jeffrey Dynevor, Adrian Blair and Eddie Barney represented Australia at the 1962 Commonwealth Games held in Perth (Photo: State Library of WA)

Former Australian featherweight champion George Flemming, Boxing Supporters' Association treasurer John Garde and George White ... John presented The Ration Shed Museum with a copy of the boxing program from the 1962 Commonwealth Games with information about Mitta's gold-medal winning fight; the program was also autographed after the fight by Mitta

Leo Beutel, from the Boxing Supporters Association of Queensland, with Eric Law

Bullet Bradley, a pall-bearer at Mitta's funeral, shapes up to namesake Jeffrey Dynevor

Mitta's oldest grandson William Docherty read out a tribute to him; Kingaroy boxing trainer Len Hams also shared his memories

Noel Kunde, right, fought Mitta twice for one win and one loss; Kunde went on to fight Lionel Rose, Johnny Famechon and Rocky Gattellari

Warry John Stanley and James Stanley

Jeffrey Dynevor with son Blake, 8

Family and friends crowd around the grave after the new tombstone was unveiled

The Ration Shed Museum boasts a large display of historical items linked to Mitta Dynevor

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Raw video of Steven “Duker” Hart singing at the graveside


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One Response to Mitta Dynevor … A Champion Remembered

  1. Jeffrey Dynevor

    Deadly wrap for the deadly day we had in remembrance of a deadly man, whom I am honoured to be named after. Thank you all who helped to make this happen