|Real name||Jeff Fenech|
|Rated at||Super bantamweight|
28 May 1964 |
St Peters, Sydney, NSW
|Wins by KO||21|
Jeff Fenech (born 28 May 1964 in St Peters, Sydney, New South Wales) is a retired Australian boxer, a three-weight world champion and a boxing trainer. During his career Fenech was trained by renowned Sydney-based trainer Johnny Lewis.
After playing junior rugby league and getting into trouble with the Police as a kid (and his parents!), Fenech was turned onto boxing when he attended the Newtown Police Boys Club in Sydney where he met Johnny Lewis. From there Fenech had a stellar amateur career, which led to him representing his country at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles where he was selected as the boxing team captain. At the Olympics, Fenech lost a controversial Quarter-final bout to Yugoslavian Redžep Redžepovski. Fenech was initially given the decision, but after intervention by the Olympic Boxing Committee and a total recount, the decision was reversed with Redžepovski being awarded the win. Many of the other boxers and those in the press, and not just those from Australia, felt that Fenech had been unfairly robbed of a chance to win an Olympic medal and most boxing writers noted how political amateur boxing was, especially at the Olympic Games.
It was that decision that led Fenech to turn professional later in 1984, and in his first professional fight defeated Bobby Williams by a knockout in two in his homeland. Fenech quickly gained a reputation a fast starter: He won his first eleven bouts by knockout, and held his first fight abroad in only his fourth fight, when he beat Iliesa Manila by a knockout in two at Fiji.
He beat fringe contenders Wayne Mulholland and Rolando Navarro, both by a knockout in the fifth round, to start 1985. After those two wins, he was placed number one among the world's bantamweights by the International Boxing Federation. However, his early wins by KO had some of the press wondering if he could last the full 15 round distance.
Fenech only took six professional fights to become the number one contender, and he placed in fifth place all time for the boxer who got to fight for the world title the fastest after beginning his career when he challenged Satoshi Shingaki for the IBF Bantamweight title in only his seventh bout, displacing the second Davey Moore, and trailing Leon Spinks, Saensak Muangsurin, Pete Rademacher and Rafael Lovera. Fenech was the third fastest boxer to become a world champion, behind Muangsuring and Spinks, when he knocked out Shingaki in nine rounds in front of a packed house at the Horden Pavillion in Sydney. After two non-title knockout wins, he gave Shingaki a rematch at the State Sports Centre in Sydney and retained the crown with a knockout in three. After one more non-title knockout win, Fenech had to go the distance for the first time, when he faced American Jerome Coffee at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, retaining the title by a 15 round unanimous decision.
In 1986, Fenech had only two bouts, but they were both major fights: He won a 10 round, non-title fight decision over former WBC bantamweight and future super bantamweight world champion Daniel Zaragoza, and he retained his IBF world championship with a TKO in 14 over American Steve McCrory in a bout dubbed "Olympic Revenge" by Fenech's then promoter Bill Mordy. McCrory, like Fenech, had competed in the Flyweight division at the Los Angeles Olympics, winning the Gold Medal by defeating Redžep Redžepovski in the Final. After the bout at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Coffee graciously allowed the Australian to wear his Olympic Gold Medal to show off to the crowd. During the fight with McCory, Fenech wore green and red trunks, the colours of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team with their tough forward Mario Fenech (no relation) in his corner. McCrory was trained out of the world famous Kronk Gym in Detroit.
Super bantamweight champion
1987 was a big year for Fenech. He went up in weight, and in his first fight as a super bantamweight, he defeated Tony Miller by a decision. Then, the WBC super bantamweight champion, Samart Payakaroon, travelled to Australia to defend his belt against Fenech. Fenech became a two-weight world champion by knocking Payakarum out in four rounds. For his next defense, he met future world bantamweight champion Greg Richardson and knocked him out in five. Then, it was former WBC bantamweight champion Carlos Zarate's turn to challenge Fenech. Fenech retained his crown by a technical decision win in four rounds at the Perth Entertainment Centre, and then finished his year by knocking out Osmar Avila in one round in a non-title affair.
By 1988, Fenech had grown into a featherweight, and the WBC matched him with Puerto Rico's former world super bantamweight champion Victor Luvi Callejas for their vacant featherweight title, once again, in Sydney. Fenech joined boxing's exclusive group of fighters who have been world champs in three or more divisions, by knocking Callejas out in the 10th round. He retained that title twice before the year was over, knocking out Tyrone Downes and Georgie "Go Go" Navarro, both in the fifth round.
Super featherweight title challenges
After that, Fenech took one year off and came back in 1991 as a super featherweight. After beating Johnny Calhoun by a knockout in four, he tried to become a four division world champion when he met Azumah Nelson. The fight was fought on the undercard to the Mike Tyson vs Razor Ruddock rematch at the famous Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas. After 12 ferocious rounds the bout was controversially declared a draw with many of the world's boxing press who were present (as well as Tyson) claiming that Fenech had been robbed of a clear win. Jeff returned to Australia and after beating Miguel Francia, Nelson travelled to Melbourne to offer Fenech a second title try. This time in front of over 30,000 fans at the Princes Park football stadium, Fenech suffered his first loss, when he was knocked out in the eighth round for Nelson to retain the world title. Fenech's TKO loss on 1 March 1992 to Nelson was recognized as the Ring Magazine Upset of the Year.
After that fight, he fought sporadically. In 1993, he was beaten in seven rounds by knockout by American former IBF featherweight champion Calvin Grove at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, and in 1995, he beat Tialano Tovar, by a knockout in eight in New Jersey.
Lightweight title challenge
Finally, in what was thought to have been both his last title fight and his last fight (he was to fight a rubber match with Nelson 12 years later), he lost to IBF lightweight champion Phillip Holiday of South Africa by a knockout in the second round in 1996. He retired after the bout.
Fenech retired with a record of 28 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw, with 21 wins by knockout.
|IBF Bantamweight Champion
26 Apr 1985– 1987
|WBC Super Bantamweight Champion
8 May 1987– 1988
|WBC Featherweight Champion
7 Mar 1988– 1989
In retirement, Fenech has kept busy, and now he is the owner of a sports clothing brand that carries his name in Australia. In addition, he was inducted in 2002 into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota, New York. Fenech has become a trainer training fighters such as Hussein Hussein, Sakio Bika, and former IBF flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan.
On 5 January 2004, Fenech was attacked and stabbed by four men in Sydney, receiving facial cuts that required plastic surgery.
In June of the same year, the Fenech family home was attacked by shooters; seven bullets were recovered but no one was injured. Australian police believe the two attacks against Fenech are connected, ranging from a bar fight that Fenech had with a gang-member in 2003. The Australian newspaper quoted someone related to a Lebanese gang stating that "they will get him", but Fenech does not believe that the violent events are related.
Despite repeated denials made in the popular press and on his website, Fenech pleaded guilty to his role in the 2005 theft of 3 gold watches worth a total of $327 from a Gold Coast, Queensland boutique store. There was clear evidence of his involvement from in-store security cameras, revealing that Fenech actively participated in the incident.
Boxing comeback against Nelson
In March 2008, Fenech - at age 43 - announced a comeback to professional boxing and lost 22 kilos in preparation for the fight. He was to fight Azumah Nelson (who was 49 years old by this time) in what was later built up as the grudge match of the century. The two were to do battle on 24 June 2008 in Melbourne, Australia. A reality series/documentary on Fenech's life aired on Channel 9 and Fox Sports in the weeks leading up to the fight. On 24 June 2008, Fenech won the grudge match against Azumah Nelson by a majority decision, one judge scoring the fight a draw and the last two judges scoring it in favour of Fenech.
In June 2008, Fenech won the Shane Warne 888 Poker World Series of Poker Celebrity Bounty Event at Crown Casino. Fenech now appears at poker events around the world including the Aussie Millions and the World Series of Poker.
Fenech is currently working on a biographical film project for 2013.
- 1983 Oceanic Flyweight champion
- 1983 3rd place at Flyweight in World Championships in Rome, Italy. Results were:
- 1983 3rd place as a Flyweight at Commonwealth Titles in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- 1984 Oceanic Flyweight champion
- 1984 represented Australia as a Flyweight at Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Results were:
- Fenech, the official biography / Grantlee Kieza and Peter Muszkat (1988, ISBN 0-949853-15-1)
- Jeff Fenech: I love youse all / with Terry Smith (1993, ISBN 1-875481-37-0)
- Caricature portrait of Jeff Fenech, 1988 / Spooner
- Jeff Fenech during a training session, 1991 / David Mahony
- Jeff Fenech in tears ..., 1984 / Bruce Howard