December 20, 2006
BOXER DAVE SANDS
MEMORIAL UPGRADE CEREMONY
(Glebe, Sydney) At a public
ceremony at the corner of Broadway and Glebe Point Road in Glebe
yesterday, an upgraded memorial plaque to Aboriginal boxing hero
Dave Sands (Ritchie) was unveiled. The event was attended by over
120 ex boxers, fans, colleagues, Aboriginal identities and
For cleared images of the ceremony please click on the following
1. Unveiling of the plaque by George Bracken and Joan Laming
www.offstick.com.au/311.jpg (Credit Solua Middleton)
2. The Dave Sands Memorial Plaque
www.offstick.com.au/211.jpg (Credit Gary Wilcox)
3. Heavyweight contender Bob "The Eagle" Mirovic, George Bracken
and Lyle Munro
(photo: Credit Gary Wilcox)
At the time of his death in a truck
accident at age 26 at Dungog, near Newcastle, Dave Sands was rated
the # 3 Middleweight contender in the World behind Champion Sugar
Ray Robinson and had scored his 97th victory (62 ko) against 10
defeats and a draw.
In his 11 year career, Sands held
the Australian Middle, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Titles and
won the Commonwealth Middleweight Title.
He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.
“Dave Sands was spoken about as
‘the second fire of London’” said boxing historian and author of The
Fighting Sands, Michael J Clarke OAM. “Dave’s successful bouts in
the country set London ablaze”.
As Empire Middleweight Champion
Dave was due to fight for the world middleweight belt before his
untimely death in a driving accident in 1952.
In 1952, Dave’s friend and ex
opponent Tom Laming Snr, erected a memorial plaque in Dave Sand’s
memory. The original plaque ceremony was attended by Tom’s wife
Joan Laming and 56 years later she was again present and together
with Aboriginal boxing hero George Bracken performed the unveiling.
“Dave Sands was a great Australian sportsman who captured the
imagination of my father and his whole generation in the boxing
industry” said son Tom Laming Jnr who spoke in tribute.
Event MC Claude Williams and
co-presenter of the Sweet Science boxing show on Koori Radio said
“The unveiling ceremony for the upgraded plaque is a symbol of our
commitment to remember and celebrate the great heroes in our
“I earned five times as much from
winning one boxing duel, than from working a week on the farm” said
the ex-Australian lightweight champion of
the 1950's George Bracken. “The sport gave Aboriginals
opportunities to travel and improve their financial status
and the humility shown by Dave and his brothers was an inspiration
to my career ”
The event was opened by
Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council chairperson Rob Welsh and
community leader Lyall Munro who said “ Led
by Dave Sands and Ron Richards, Aboriginal
boxers were the early heroes and warriors who led us off the
missions with their successes. Dave
helped us believe that we could compete ”
General Manager of Gadigal
Information Services and co-presenter of the Sweet Science Radio
Show Brad Cooke said
by Dave Sands Aboriginal Australia has and
continues to contribute to the success of Australian boxing
on the world stage. The unveiling today was an opportunity to
remember one of the sport's greats. As the plaque reads – a great
Australian and gentlemen, one of nature’s greatest.”
Hosted by Gadigal Information
Service (Koori Radio), The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land
Council and the City of Sydney, the event also commemorated Dave
Sands’ 80th birthday year.
For a cleared image of Dave Sands
please click on the following link:
Photo Credit : Michael J.
About Dave Sands:
(Michael J. Clarke – Author of The History of the Fighting Sands
Born David Ritchie
in 1926 at Burnt Bridge near Kempsey, he and his five brothers took
on the Sands name, taken off a train guard who helped Percy Ritchie,
the second oldest, travel to
fight fare free in
1940. Proud representatives of the Dunghutti people, the
Fighting Sands Brothers are arguably Australia’s greatest
At the time of his
death in a truck accident at 26 at Dungog, near Newcastle, Dave
Sands was rated the # 3 Middleweight contender in the World behind
Champion Sugar Ray Robinson and had scored his 97th victory (62
KO’s) against 10 defeats and a draw.
In his 11 year
career, Sands held the Australian Middle, Light Heavyweight and
Heavyweight Titles and won the Commonwealth Middleweight Title by
knocking out Dick Turpin, brother of Randolph in one round in 1949
in England. He beat future Middleweight Champion and Hall of Famer,
Carl (Bobo) Olson twice, first in Sydney and then in Chicago.
Olson, standing in the Madison Square Garden ring after he had won
the vacant world crown in 1953 said: "if Dave Sands was alive,
this title would be his". In 1950 and
Dave won the Sports Novel public vote for Sportsman of the year over
Clive Churchill, Neil Harvey and Keith Miller.
The man the
Americans called the "boxer with the educated left hand"
received his due when he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of
Fame in 1998 at a ceremony held in Los Angeles and there can be no
greater tribute than that provided by a sportsman's peers.
Daily Mirror Tribute was printed the day after his funeral.
suppose there never was a world-class fighter who was more modest,
less affected by the glitter and glamour of it than Dave. In his
whole career there was never a nasty whisper about him.
And who'll forget the Empire, Australian and so on Champion
saying after a big fight, "well, got to be getting home", sleeping
like a baby on a bench at Central Railway Station and then climbing
onto a paper train which carried him and news of another great win
the draughty hundred miles back to Newcastle. When our children are
old, old people, they'll still be talking about this gentleman of
For further information or
photos please contact:
Event Manager and
M: 0405 406 088