Boxing: Gloves off for champ tribute fight

Torpedo Murphy's relative lines up bare-knuckle bouts to raise funds for statue.

'Torpedo' Thomas William Murphy. Photo / Supplied
'Torpedo' Thomas William Murphy. Photo / Supplied

The concept of getting your kit off for charity will be taken to new heights early next year, with six professional boxers set to shed their gloves for a fundraiser. Oh, and they're still going to hit each other.

Dillon Kennedy, the great-nephew of lone New Zealand-born world boxing champion Torpedo Billy Murphy, has secured permission to host the first bare-knuckled boxing event in this country for more than 100 years.

Proceeds from the event, to be held at Eden Park's ASB Lounge in February, will go towards the erection of a bronze statue of Murphy in St Mary's Park, Ponsonby - not far from where the former world featherweight champion grew up.

Murphy fought for numerous world titles, eventually defeating Ike Weir with a 14th-round knockout in California in 1890. The annotations in Murphy's 223-fight record make interesting reading. For example: "Referee Stoddard attempted to separate Dixon and Murphy in the 3rd round, and Murphy turned on him. He landed his right on the referee's nose. Stoddard retaliated with two rapid blows in self-defence.

Murphy was excited and clinched Stoddard, while he rained blows on the old man's face. Police Captain Bimson stopped the proceedings."

It wasn't the only time a Torpedo Murphy fight was stopped by police, while bets on another fight were cancelled in the second round as the promoter believed the "fix was in". That fight went on for 34 rounds before being declared a no contest, with neither man landing a blow over the last 10 rounds.

The return of bare-knuckled fighting to Auckland isn't likely to attract such shenanigans. Professional fighters will fight three 90 second rounds, with - aside from the lack of gloves - the major nod to history being that the combatants will wear trousers instead of trunks. Kennedy hopes the event will raise a significant portion of the $140,000 required to complete the tribute to his ancestor. The the website devoted to the statue campaign is: www.torpedobilly.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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