Favourite son took on the world of boxing

Hailing from East Maitland in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Les Darcy is an internationally recognised boxing legend. As we approach the centenary of his death on May 24, we remember one of the nation’s greatest Catholic folk heroes. John McLaurin explains.

Giving a local historical perspective ahead of the 100th anniversary of Darcy’s death and of the upcoming lectures, Maitland Historical Society secretary Kevin Short said the boxer was arguably Australia’s greatest sporting icon behind cricketer Sir Donald Bradman.

“That Les slunk away from Newcastle in the night as a stow-away, a departure seemingly designed to avoid conscription, ought to have labelled him a deserter and coward, yet ironically, in a few short months, thousands lined the streets to pay homage to a returning fallen hero,” he said.

“While Maitland has provided the nation with countless men and women of renown in every field of endeavour, Les Darcy remains its favourite son.

“He was by all accounts a decent and highly principled young man, although it’s sometimes hard to know if his persona was created and embellished as a eulogy to a life that promised so much but was cruelly extinguished in the most bizarre circumstances.”

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