The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 8 (November 1, 1938)
Panorama of the Playground — Boxing In New Zealand
Throughout the history of boxing in New Zealand three names continue to crop up—Griffin, Heeney and Leckie. The second generation of these fighting families has recently been taking a share of the fistic spotlight. “Young Jim” Griffin, after an interrupted professional career, has retired from the game, but Darcy Heeney, New Zealand welter-weight champion and Empire Games representative, and Neil Leckie were two of the stars at the New Zealand amateur boxing championships held in Gisborne a few weeks ago.
Darcy Heeney, who retained the welterweight title and the Morgan Cup, is a son of Jack Heeney, who was amateur welterweight champion in 1914 and later held the professional middleweight title. Neil Leckie is a son of Archie Leckie, former amateur middleweight champion of New Zealand and is a cousin of Johnny Leckie, perhaps the best featherweight New Zealand has produced. Neil did not win the bantamweight title at Gisborne, but he showed that the family tradition was in safe hands and next year should see him among the title-holders.
An interesting feature of the championship meeting was the presence of a grand-nephew of Bob Fitzsimmons, the first boxer to win world titles at three weights. This boxer, W. Jack, won the middleweight title under sensational circumstances, his opponent in the final being disqualified for unfair tactics.
A referee at the tournament was Mr. Geoff Watchorn, who won the New Zealand amateur welterweight title in 1912 and also represented New Zealand against Australia, winning a title.
A “Hall of Champions.”
A suggestion that a “Hall of Champions” should occupy a prominent place in the Centennial Exhibition is now being discussed by national associations controlling sport in New Zealand. It is felt, and with justification, that New Zealand's place in international sport should be given more publicity than has been done in the past. It is not until a review is made of the past performances of New Zealand sportsmen that the true value of our representatives is realised. From this small land have come such boxers as Billy Murphy and Bob Fitzsimmons, winners of four world boxing titles; Tom Heeney, gallant loser to Gene Tunney in a world heavyweight boxing championship and Ted Morgan, Olympic welterweight boxing champion. Rowing has produced Webb, Arnst and Hadfield—all world champions; track and field sport has produced Lovelock, Batger, Holder and Creamer, holders of world records, and Boot, Matthews, Savidan and Lay, holders of British Empire titles and British Empire records.
Although our Rugby mana has been slightly tarnished, we should not let the younger generation overlook the deeds of the 1905 and 1924 All Blacks—or the prowess of the 1888–89 Maori team, which toured Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand to play 106 games. Seventy-four of these matches were played in the United Kingdom during a period of six months! Included in this team were such players as the Warbrick brothers (five Warbricks in all!), the Wynwards (three of them!), Davy Gage (whose burial plot at Karori is kept in repair by the Poneke Rugby Football Club), Ihimaira (“The Smiler”), Tom Ellison, and the immortal Pat Keogh. Surely these names are worth revering? When the “Hall of Champions” is dismantled, the exhibits, which should include sports trophies won in international competition, could be housed at the National Museum and Art Gallery.
Pan-Pacific Swimming Championships.
Although Wellington is to stage the Centennial Exhibition, Auckland has been entrusted with the staging of some of the principal summer sports attractions. Outstanding among these will be the Pan-Pacific swimming championships, to which all countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean will be invited to send competitors. This should result in the greatest assemblage of swimmers ever seen in New Zealand, unless the Olympic Games, to be held in Finland, prevents representative teams from being sent. However, Olympic representation is confined to but a few of the swimming stars in Japan and America, to mention two of the nations to be invited, and from among those not gaining. Olympic selection a strong team could be chosen.
No Visiting Athletes this Season.
Hopes that New Zealanders would see a team of American athletes this page 62 season have now been dispelled. In fact there will not be a New Zealand tour by any visiting athletes, although Otago athletes will be given the opportunity of competing against a small team of Australian athletes. At a time when New Zealand has two of the best athletes in the world—Cecil Matthews and Vernon Boot—it is unfortunate that the opportunity was not taken to use them to foster the sport and create public enthusiasm in the same manner as Randolph Rose's duels against Lloyd Hahn brought amateur athletics to the forefront in 1926.
Junior Athletic Championship Meeting.
For the first time in its history the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Association is to stage a junior athletic championship meeting. This meeting, which has been sponsored by the Auckland Centre, will enable the lads at secondary schools to contest national titles, and should serve to continue the enthusiasm manifest at schools until the athletes reach senior ranks. At present the schoolboy athlete is not catered for in national sport, although most of the centres conduct junior championships. At the junior championship meeting will also be staged a complete programme of national title events for the women athletes. With little encouragement, New Zealand feminine athletes have produced athletes worthy of representing New Zealand at the Empire Games. At the Games in February, Miss Rona Tong filled third place in the 80 metres hurdles; Miss Betty Forbes was equal second in the high jump, and Miss Mary Mitchell, recuperating from the measles, was fourth in the javelin throw. With a full programme of national events for the women, clubs are now expected to include more women's events on their programmes.
New Zealand appears to be one of the last countries in the world to adopt the craze of ice-skating in indoor rinks. Since Sonja Henie, thrice Olympic champion, entered the moving picture industry and brought ice-skating before the vast audiences, the sport has swept the world with the same rapidity as measles, but with happier results.