Boxing and Recruiting

Boxing and Recruiting
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On 31 July 1915 Darcy defended his world middleweight title against American Eddie McGoorty.  This was filmed and used in the recruitment campaign. First, a number of returned soldiers from Gallipoli encouraged the spectators to ‘do their bit’. Then it was the politicians’ turn. However, they were unable to speak as they were ‘counted out’ by the crowd, which managed to drown out their efforts. Although the first conscription referendum was still a long way off, this opposition to recruitment was already expressed very publicly in 1915.

In the early stages of the war sport was seen as a fertile site for recruitment, and this film shows 17,000 spectators crammed into the Sydney Stadium to witness Les Darcy defend his world middleweight title against American Eddie McGoorty in 1915. An intense affair, Police ended the fight in the 15th round after McGoorty was knocked down for the fourth time. Beforehand the Premier of NSW, William Holman, and the opposition leader, Charles Wade, were scheduled to give a recruitment speech.

However, as it became obvious that the war would not be over quickly, and as casualties from Gallipoli mounted, sport was condemned as a distraction from fighting and the home front war effort.