#6 The Boxing Club

Grandfather moved to the Anglican Church in Naracoorte in South Australia in January 1915 to become the Vicar of the Anglican church there.

Many years later when Dad was in hospital one time I went in to visit. He was a little sleepy but he wanted to talk because he would never want anyone to just sit around and say nothing.

“Dad,” I started, “Did you ever have any pets when you were kids?”

“No. Not that I remember. Why do you ask?”

Because I’m trying to find out in my own silly way how your memory is going, I could have said but I didn’t. “It’s just because you always had animals and you always had a farm even when you were teaching.”

He sat and said nothing. Closed his eyes. Then a gentle smile. “We had a swan.” Pause.

“When we lived in the Vicarage Arthur and I found a baby swan and we asked Father if we could keep it. But it was not legal in South Australia then, I don’t know about now, but back then you couldn’t keep a native bird or animal as a pet without permission. So Arthur said we would ask for permission. We went down to the Police Station and spoke to the Sergeant who was a good friend of Dad’s from the boxing club.”

“From the what!”  I exclaimed.

“The Boxing Club. Do you want to know about that as well as the baby swan? I’ll tell you next time but now about the swan.”

“No! I haven’t heard anything about a boxing club. Tell me that now. The Swan can wait.”

“OK. Your Grandfather was quite an accomplished amateur boxer and as the local Anglican Vicar he got to know some of the bad young lads around town. So whenever he was talking with them he would invite them to church. But of course they never came.”

“Dad, while I remember, you keep talking about the Vicarage but I though we were Presbyterians.”

“Well that is all to do with the boxing club so this is your lucky day. As I was saying, the bad boys never came to church. One day your Grandfather was down at the police station when Sgt McIntosh was trying to restrain a fellow who was a bit drunk and aggressive and the drunk was a big fellow and McIntosh was having a bit of a struggle so George, I’ll call him George because your sister gave him that name. She thought he looked like King George, the Queens father and his face was on all our stamps at the time.”

“Get back to the boxing Dad.”

“Anyway, When George walked in the drunk threw a punch at him and George threw one back and punched him neatly on the chin and knocked him out. McIntosh was impressed and George told him about his Amateur career.”

“What amateur career?”

“Oh nothing to write home about – University middleweight champion. Anyway, as I was saying, next morning your Grandfather was called to the Police Station. The drunk was sober now and wanted to say something. When George arrived the drunk walked up to him and shook his hand and said he’d like to know how he knocked him out because no one had done it before.

“The end of the story was that George started a boxing Club in the stables at the back of the Commercial hotel. It was McIntosh’s club officially.

“The next part of the story is the outcome. The Vestry of the Church weren’t happy and one night at a meeting of him and his vestry they passed a motion that declared their desire for the Vicar to have nothing more to do with ‘the drunks and layabouts of the town’. My father said that he was rather of the opinion that Jesus would have probably spent more time with the drunks and layabouts than with the so-called ‘decent’ class of people. But the Vestry insisted. So Father stood up and said I will therefore resign, effective immediately. There was a hoo haa and Father left.

“He went back to the Vicarage, told your Grandmother to wake all the children and get them ready to move house. It was about nine o’clock at night. So Mother woke us all up and we packed our things. As it happened, and George of course knew, the local Presbyterian Manse was vacant. The Pressies didn’t have a minister at that time. So he went around to the Manse and very carefully opened a window at the back, opened the front door, went back to the Vicarage, collected the family and settled them in to the Manse. Mother, of course said very little. She was used to her husband doing strange things now and then.

“Then around to the Clerk of the Presbyterian Session. He said, and I quote, because he told us what he said a couple of time and I remember it well. The conversation went this way;  

‘Mr Davis, I believe you are still looking for a Minister.’  

‘Yes’, said Mr Davis, ‘We are.’

‘Well,’ said father, ‘If you are prepared to take my recommendation then I believe I have found the man for you.’

 ‘We are quite happy to accept anyone that you would recommend, Mr Corden’.

‘Then tomorrow morning, if you go around to the Manse I will ask my wife to introduce the fellow to you.’

The next morning Mr Davis knocked on the door of the Manse, Mother opened the door, invited him in, made him a cup of tea and said she supposed Mr Davis would like to meet the man. Mr Davis said that he would and you grandfather walked into the kitchen and said, ‘I am your man if you’ll have me.’ ‘But you are an Anglican.’ ‘I was an Anglican last night but this morning I have become a Presbyterian. All the necessary papers have been posted to the Church Authorities.’

‘Then welcome to the Presbyterian Church.’

‘There is only one small condition,’ your Grandfather said, ‘I wish to continue running the boxing club at the back of the Commercial Hotel.”

I found out a bit more about the boxing club. George (Grandpa) went to the licensee of the hotel and mentioned the fact that because cars were becoming more frequent there were some stables at the back that could be used for a boxing club. The licensee thought about and said that the club might take men away from the public bar and he would be out of money. George thought that they would probably not get drunk and smash up property and that after a bit of hard training they might get thirsty anyway. It is what we call these days a win/win situation. And Sgt McIntosh was happy.

27 thoughts on “#6 The Boxing Club

  1. Pingback: #7 Gone Bush. | John's Storybook

    • My Grandfather got his job in Canada, as a chaplain with the Mounties, because he was “able to handle himself” amongst all the Polish immigrants who worked on the gold mines in Saskatchewan. Not your average vicar.

  2. Oh yes! I so remember this story as my now deceased cousin was Golden Gloves 1962 champion and we continue to donate monthly to the Police Citizens Youth Club off the back of all they did for him when he was a young lad.

    • I am told that the copper and the clergy got on very well. They had developed their own Policeman’s boys club except that the boys were a bit rougher than most.

      • I’m pretty sure my cuz was just poor and disadvantaged. He had a very non-confrontational personality that persisted all through life. Actually, in workplace teams, when it came to conflict resolution, I found that just as difficult to manage as the aggressive types.

      • Yes. As a teacher I found the quiet ones equally difficult to deal with. Actually as I think about they were probably more difficult.

      • The quiet ones weren’t alway the little angels. When I was in The Army I learned that a soldier could stand in front of an officer and say nothing and could then be charged with the offense of “Dumb Insolence.” In my teaching career I knew that was a real thing.

      • Mmmm I was thinking more of the conflict avoiders. They can create as much havoc in a team as those who spoil for a fight. And rather than “allow”, I should have said enable or encourage them to politely say when something wasn’t suiting them, or they did not have the time or skill to do something another was asking of them, or they had an opinion about how something should be done that differed with the more bombastic person’s. In Defence hierarchy there is a muzzling of such things. In corporate teams, it doesn’t pay to muzzle part of your workforce.

      • Yes I agree. The many Principals I have had when teaching have tended to fall into one of three camps: laissez Faire which doesn’t work because it lets the bullies flourish, the dictator who usually gathers the sycophants to his side and the good ones who mediate between the strong who want to dictate their own POV and the more timid who have great ideas and need encouragement.

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