Documentary about boxer re-broadcast
A film about boxer Les Darcy written by a Umina resident has been re-broadcast on the 100th anniversary of the boxer's death.
The documentary was written and narrated in 1999 by Mr Peter Fenton, of Umina, following the publication of his book, the Legend of the Fighting Man, in 1995.
"I couldn't find any motion picture footage but the libraries were full of information about him so I wrote the book instead," Mr Fenton said.
The film was produced by Mr Anthony Buckley of Point Clare, who organised a grant for Mr Fenton to travel to America to search for footage of Darcy.
As a result, the documentary contained rare footage of Darcy training and fighting.
The documentary also included footage from Darcy's three funerals in San Francisco, Sydney and Maitland that belonged to the private collection of another Australian documentary maker, Mr Graham McNiece.
The documentary was originally aired on ABC TV.
It has been restored and remastered for re-broadcast by Foxtel this month.
Mr Fenton said Australian middle weight boxer Les Darcy was known as the Maitland Wonder.
He said Les Darcy was only 21 when he died in Memphis, Tennessee, on May 24, 1917.
"The extraordinary life of James Leslie Darcy, the Maitland blacksmith and prize fighter, had been snuffed out by blood poisoning.
"Les Darcy was one of a large, very poor Roman Catholic family from the farming town.
"An altar boy, he formed a life-long friendship with his young priest Joseph Coady who taught boys boxing at St Joseph's School, East Maitland.
"Les left school at 12, delivering milk and doing odd jobs to contribute to the family's coffers.
"With the few pence Les was able to save, he purchased a set of four boxing gloves which he carried around the district in a sugar bag offering to spar with anyone who was interested.
"From the time he won two tournaments on the one night at Newcastle's Summer Park, he was destined to be a professional boxer.
"At 15, he lasted four rounds with the proprietor of the boxing booth at the Maitland Show and knocked out a main event fighter on the following evening.
"By the time Darcy was 17, he had beaten local idols Billy Hannan and Billy McNabb, tough experienced fighters.
"He was headed to the 'Big Smoke' at Sydney's Rushcutters Bay.
"Despite two early losses, due mainly to inexperience, he was soon on his way to becoming the greatest fighter Australia had produced.
"Handsome, with a charismatic smile and extreme modesty, it was inevitable he would become the most popular sportsman in the land."
Eighty guests attended a commemorative luncheon at the Woy Woy Bowling Club where Mr Fenton spoke about Les Darcy and each attendee received a copy of the documentary.
Copies of the remastered DVD are available from www.buckleyfilms.com.au or from the Peninsula News, 120C Erina Street, Gosford.
Interview, 8 Jun 2017
Peter Fenton, Umina
Anthony Buckley, Point Clare
Reporter: Jackie Pearson