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Indigenous Pugilists: A Legacy of Strength and Perseverance in Australian Boxing



In the early 20th century, Aboriginal boxers represented a significant portion, accounting for 15 percent of national boxing champions. Jerry Jerome, a Yiman man from Queensland, emerged as the first Indigenous Australian to secure a major boxing title in 1912 by defeating Charlie Godfrey for the national middleweight championship. Over the years, notable figures like Lionel Rose, Anthony Mundine Jr, and more have made enduring contributions to the sport, marking significant milestones in Aboriginal boxing history.

A new generation of Indigenous fighters is now stepping into the ring, aiming to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors who broke barriers in the sport. Fighters like Alex Winwood, a successful amateur and now a promising professional, aspire to make a mark on the world stage. Dana Coolwell, overcoming personal challenges, is another rising talent, aiming to become an undisputed world champion in boxing. Nathaniel May, inspired by his family and culture, is set to make a comeback and surprise contenders in the boxing world.


Alex Winwood, the grandson of celebrated Indigenous artist Primus Ugle, embarked on his boxing journey at 15, quickly rising to prominence as a successful amateur boxer. His dedication and talent earned him the opportunity to represent Australia in various prestigious events like the World Championships, Olympics, and Commonwealth Games. Claiming victories both in the amateur and professional circuits, Winwood is now eyeing a world title, inspired by legendary Aboriginal athletes like Cathy Freeman and Anthony Mundine.



Dana "Deadly" Coolwell, although faced with numerous personal challenges in his upbringing, found purpose and direction through boxing. Boxing not only helped him steer away from a troubled path but also ignited his passion for the sport. He has consistently showcased his potential and determination, even in the face of defeats, demonstrating that he is destined for a bright future in boxing. With the support of his long-term trainer, Steve Pitt, Coolwell aspires to attain the pinnacle of the sport and be recognized as an undisputed world champion.



Nathaniel May, once celebrated as one of Australia's top featherweights, has had a successful career, clinching the WBO Asia Pacific featherweight belt. Despite facing setbacks in the ring, May's determination remains unwavering. He draws inspiration from his uncles and boxing icons like Lionel Rose and Paul Fleming, underscoring the importance of family and role models in his journey. May's upcoming fight presents a platform for him to reestablish his standing in the boxing world and inspire others with his resilience and perseverance.



Albert Nolan, hailing from Gunnedah in New South Wales, has emerged as a formidable boxer, with a historic bout against Daniel Carr, grandson of the legendary Wally Carr, for the Australian super-featherweight title. Nolan's spirited performances and significant victories in recent matches have firmly placed him on the boxing map. He seeks to build on this success and become a dominant force in the boxing world, showcasing the rich talent and potential that Indigenous boxers possess.



Shanell Dargan's boxing journey began as a means to overcome personal struggles, and it quickly became a source of strength and empowerment. A Wiradjuri and Mununjali woman, Dargan's story is one of resilience and determination. Through her dedication to the sport, she aspires to become Australia's first Indigenous female boxing world champion, breaking barriers and inspiring other young Indigenous girls to pursue their dreams fearlessly. With an upcoming fight, Dargan is set to make a statement and continue her inspiring journey in the boxing world.


Albert Nolan, Shanell Dargan, and others are among the emerging Indigenous boxers who strive to achieve their dreams and inspire the next generation. As they lace up their gloves and chase their goals, they carry the hope of not only achieving personal success but also paving the way for aspiring young Indigenous athletes. The resilience, determination, and talent displayed by these fighters highlight their dedication to the sport and the pride they take in representing their communities on the global stage.


Read the full article here.


Photo Courtesy ABC News


Courtesy ABC News

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