Lester Ellis: Fighting the Demons
With a new book
out on Australiaís former world champ Lester Ellis, we asked Grantlee
Kieza, who covered most of Lesterís big fights for Australiaís major
newspapers, for this review
Lester Ellis fought on hate but itís love that saved the life of the
former world junior-lightweight champion.
Lester earned his first pay cheque blasting maggots from dead cows with
a pressure hose at a Melbourne abattoir. But by the time he got into the
ring to face Anthony Mundine in 2002 the Master Blaster was fly-blown.
The saddest chapter of Mundineís mesmerising career closed when he
slaughtered the 37-year-old who hadn't fought for more than six years.
The bout ended with a finale as complete as any Lester experienced in
his bloody initiation to gainful employment.
Lester was a hell of a fighter but 17 years after he became world champ
at 19, I had The Sunday Telegraph photograph him running up hills in
country Victoria, carrying a beam across his back to improve his
stamina, looking every bit the modern-day martyr rushing to his own
Lester was a victim of the bottle by the time he fought Mundine and a
victim of the many demons which had plagued a fighter who was all
sad-eyed sinew and whipcord.
The strident gremlins of his psyche are all laid bare in Fighting the
Demons: The Lester Ellis Story, a rollicking read put together with the
help of leading sportswriter Robert Drane.
Itís a gritty, hard-edged tale told in Lesterís voice about his battles
with the booze, financial hardship, the ill-fated comebacks and the
classic confrontations with his nemesis Barry Michael and his world
title victims Hwan Kil Yuh and Rod Sequenan, dispatched with the same
savagery as this fast-paced tale of a flawed and floored working class
Boxing can be the cruellest of all sports and those who marvelled at
Lester's tenacity and heart on his climb from maggots to magnificence in
the early 80s, are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that through his
close friends and a loving wife and family Lester is piecing his life
Itís all there for the reader to pick over like a festering sore. Not
pretty but honest and whole-hearted like the Master Blasterís every
Fighting the Demons is a good read about a good bloke and a great
It's available at all ABC stores.