Tent boxing

Tent boxing

Tent boxing, an amusement commonly seen at agricultural shows throughout Australia between the 1920s and the 1960s is an old Australian tradition that is barely kept alive today. Born in England, now banned in America, the outback is today the only place such an attraction can survive.

Traveling boxing troupes of professional fighters would travel the mining towns and outback of the country, following fairs and carnivals, putting up big top tents and taking on all-comers for cash in the ring.


Among the more famous of tent boxing troupes, are Roy Bell’s, Jimmy Sharman’s and Fred Brophy’s, the latter who’s troupe is today the last surviving tent boxing troupe in the world. Fred Brophy, who owns the Cracow Hotel, Cracow, Queensland, still travels with his troupe across Australia with his wife, Sandi, and son, Fred Brophy Jnr- the world’s only fourth generation tent boxer.

Only Jimmy Sharman’s troupe travelled for longer, starting his famous boxing troupe in Wagga Wagga in 1911 and touring the shows and country towns for six decades.

A dangerous sport

Largely unreported on, little is known about early tent boxers and events due to participants and spectators being largely illiterate. In more modern times, very few photographs exist of the movement as organisers disapprove of media involvement.

Fred Brophy insists he will continue travelling with his tent boxing troupe, until he dies, even though the sport was banned in 1971 by the government, due to health concerns.

Filmmaker [http://www.overlander.tv Mark Shea] recently made an [http://www.abc.net.au/queensland/boxingtent/ online film] about Brophy's Troupe for Australia's National Broadcaster, the ABC.


# [http://www.abc.net.au/queensland/boxingtent The Last Outback Boxing Tent]
# [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/14/1050172535850.html Sharman the showman is an official bloody legend]
# [http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/hidden_histories/histories/bruce.htm Story of tent boxer Bruce Baxter]

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