In the corner stands a boxer

18 Oct

In 2004 I was on the bones of my arse, busted and skint. My woman had taken the kids and shot through to W.A. leaving me to pay the rent on a 3 bedroom house. I needed to make some serious plans so I dragged my sorry arse to the Albert Hotel for a beer and a think.
The Albert was owned by Keith Ellis; a man who’d trained his brother Lester to the very heights of international boxing. Keithy also ran a gym and mentored young hopefuls through the exacting trials of the fight game.
He’d recently staged an exhibition match between two teenage fighters in a ring set up in the pub carpark by the bottle shop on a Sunday arvo. Local bignoters were outraged but Keith refused to be told. Get ’em out in the fresh air, he reckoned. I loved it. It was like living in ancient Rome.
Keith promoted fight nights and had the weigh-ins at the pub. I never missed these occasions. The M.C. looked like a disgraced former TV host who’d hit the piss, young nervy and super-fit fighters were introduced and the room crackled with potential violence.
The fighters stripped down to get weighed and gave each other showbizzy threatening glares and hissed threats. There were some dangerous looking cats but none as fearsome as the polynesian behemoth ducking and dodging in the corner, throwing whistling-fast combinations of punches, his face a stony mask of concentration.
I chainsmoked rollies while watching him, transfixed by the speed and firepower of his punches. If just one caught you, the bones in your face would shatter like a biscuit. He could batter you to death with his fists in a minute. His name was Jimmy Thunder.

On a gloomy unemployed Tuesday arvo, I bemoaned my fate to Keithy.
‘Gone missin’ he offered, ‘gone walkabout’.
I shrugged and agreed as he refilled my pot.
Keith scratched his cheek and looked up at the PubTab telly.
‘I’ve got a young fella needs a place to stay. Good kid.’
‘Oh yeah?’ I said, sounding interested but thinking no fucking way.
‘Yeah, young bloke, good kid. Jimmy Thunder’s his name.’
I soon dawned on me who he meant. The stony assassin in the corner. The angel of death. Jesus.
‘Let me have a think about it’ I said, scooped up my change and headed out the back door to the bottle shop.

Later that week, I was having a yarn with my mate International Super Hoggy, a florid white-whiskered fellow with strong opinions on most topics.
‘Keithy’s got this young bloke he wants to stick in my spare room’ I said.
Hoggy’s eyebrows shot up and he goggled at me in disbelief.
‘You didn’t promise him, did you?’
‘Nah’ I said, ‘just told him I’d think about it’
‘Have you seen him, this boxer?’
‘Fuckin’ oath’ I gasped, slowly shaking my head in recollection, ‘he’s fucking terrifying. Mr Instant Death.’
Hoggy just stared as if to make me continue talking.
‘Keith reckons he’d be OK. They’re christians too, most of that mob, gentle giant, that sort of thing..’
Hoggy spurted his breath derisively and gulped his Bundy.
‘It might be alright..’ I weakly said, unsure of why I wanted to convince him.
‘It’d be alright’ Hoggy began, flushing redder with the words pushing to bust out. ‘It’d be alright, Rockstar’ he said, ‘it’d be alright…UNTIL THE FUCKING DOORBELL RANG!!!’.


One Response to “In the corner stands a boxer”

  1. Cate Luxford December 6, 2016 at 6:01 am #

    You are a brilliant writer kid.I used to know Keith. I’d back him against Lester any bloody day of the week. I may or may not have some work for you.Email me son.

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