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Tent boxing is an amusement seen at agricultural shows throughout Australia. Born in England, now banned in the United States, the outback is today the only place such an attraction can survive.
Starting in the late 19th Century boxing troupes of professional fighters would travel the mining towns and outback of the country, following fairs and carnivals, putting up big top tents and taking on all-comers for cash in the ring.
Among the more famous of tent boxing troupes, are the ones created by Roy Bell and Jimmy Sharman. Only three tents still travel today, Roy Bell's Touring Stadium, The Oldest Original Boxing Tent- Est 1924 & Owned and Operated by Michael Karaitiana (grandson of Roy Bell). Michael still currently tours with Roy Bell's Touring Stadium throughout Queensland, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory with his wife Mandy and family. Fred Brophy's, who owns the Cracow Hotel in Cracow, Queensland, still travels with his troupe across Queensland with his wife, Sandi, and son, Fred Brophy Jr. Blue Ribbons Boxing owned by Aubrey Ribbons Jr., Aubrey (a 6th generation Showmen) is the only boxing tent operator to travel outside Queensland or the Northern Territory, making its way through New South Wales and Tasmania.
A dangerous sport
Largely unreported on, little is known about early tent boxers and events due to participants and spectators being largely illiterate. In more modern times, very few photographs exist of the movement as organisers disapprove of media involvement.
Fred Brophy insists he will continue travelling with his tent boxing troupe, until he dies, even though the sport was banned in New South Wales, Victoria, West Australia and South Australia in 1971 by the government, due to health concerns.
- Lewis, Daniel. (2003-04-15). Sharman the showman is an official bloody legend. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- Story of tent boxer Bruce Baxter
- McLennan, Wayne. (2007). Tent Boxing: An Australian Journey. Granta. ISBN 978-1862078543.
- Chevallier, Laurent. (Director). (1996). Outback Fighters. Gédéon. Australia.
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