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AllanAldenhoven with old foe, Michael Karpaney, for the TV Ringside/Stadiums Ltd version of the Australian Welterweight Title. Karpaney, a pre-fight favourite, looked a champion waiting to happen in the early stages but the three minute rounds slowly began to take their toll. In the twelfth and final round, Allan twice put the tiring Karpaney onto the canvas and South Australia had a new national titleholder. It was fun while it lasted. Allan won two fights on the trot before Melbourne’s highly ranked Wayne Bannister, who had once captained Collingwood’s Under 19s, put himself on notice. A decorated amateur who’d turned professional in 1969; Bannister was a powerful Welterweight with a winning mix of skill and aggression. In over twenty fights he’d suffered only one defeat and was easily Allan’s most formidable opponent. Allan fought gamely on the night but Bannister’s strength and experience finally broke through. In the tenth round, referee Terry Reilly saved a battered Allan from further punishment and so ended his brief reign as an Australian Champion and his memorable association with TV Ringside. Sadly, Allan was never the same fighter after losing his title – he fought on for another six years only to lose eleven of his last twelve bouts. In August 1977, Allan returned to Melbourne for the first time in four years when he was matched with Frank Ropis, a granite-jawed punching machine, at Festival Hall. My father and I were in the crowd that night and watched Allan, who looked more like a battle scarred veteran

than the good looking rooster of old, take a terrible beating before Ropis wrapped it up in the sixth round. The punch resistance seemed to have vanished and the once sharp reflexes had evidently dulled. It was painful to see a once topline fighter reduced to a ladder rung for up and comers. “He ought to pack it in.” said my father, who’d been a fan of Allan’s from the start, as we filed out of the hall. While Allan’s losing streak continued, reports of bizarre behavior began to leak across the border. At a Port Pirie appointment, Allan stunned fight watchers when he flung his mouthguard across the ring and hurled insults at the front row crowd. Another story and another fight had Allan pulling down his trunks and baring his backside to an either amused or bemused audience. Some pundits were quick to wrongly dismiss his antics as those of a fighter who had finally gone punchy but it went far deeper than that. In early February 1979, Allan lost an eight round undercard fight to the relatively inexperienced Johnny “The Bull” Sacco at Williamstown’s Town Hall in bayside Melbourne. A few weeks later Allan was dead. I first learned of Allan’s death from an article that appeared in Melbourne’s Saturday night Herald, penned by sportswriter, Bill Gray, a week after Allan had been found hanged in a Port Adelaide police cell. In short, Allan had been jailed for non-payment of an outstanding fine and then discovered lifeless the following morning. Gray also alluded to Allan’s involvement in a strange and botched

kidnapping of a small time drug dealer. It seemed hard to comprehend that a carefree, engaging character like Allan would lose his way in such a manner and then die a sad and lonely death. Not long after, Adelaide stalwarts, Terry Fox and Phil Barrett, fought an exhibition match at the city’s Cobbs Restaurant to raise money for Allan’s widow, Robyn. In 1981, Broderick Smith released his Big Combo LP and dedicated the album to Allan. Finally, in 2015, Ric Teague’s evocative and deserving biography of Allan, Born On Anzac Day was published. A leading newspaper and television journalist, Ric had been one of Allan’s surfing cronies and has always held fond memories of the irrepressible larrikin he knew back then but had been continually troubled by Allan’s last months which culminated in his mysterious death. Ric’s book was a natural extension of those emotions and allowed him to get that much closer to the heart of the matter. Earlier this year, things came full circle in Port Fairy, of all places. “Ron, a friend of mine and a surfing mate of Allan’s, was at The Port Fairy Folk Festival on the weekend,” Ric recently wrote. “I told him to look up Broderick Smith who was performing there – which he did. He made himself known after the show and said Brod was quite emotional when talking about Allan.” Life goes on as it does but the sadness will always remain. Allan Aldenhoven (b.1948 – d.1979)  n

MICHAEL MACDONALD

NEW BOOK BY MICHAEL MACDONALD Available Now. Slimfit Press. John Bruce Plant’s eventful life began in the tropical rainforests of North Queensland before work as a jackaroo and boundary rider took him to the big cattle and sheep stations of Charters Towers, Hughenden and Cloncurry. Professional boxing was the next port of call and as a nationally ranked Light Heavyweight with title aspirations, John was soon mixing it with the best in the major stadiums of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. After a colourful and distinguished ring career, John decided to turn a long held dream into reality by becoming and accomplished stage and screen actor. Author Michael MacDonald vividly recounts and unpredictable and, sometimes, tumultuous life story with all the twists and turns along a true maverick’s road of self-discovery. THE LAST POST – 2019 ANZAC DAY EDITION  107  

Profile for The Last Post Magazine

The Last Post Magazine Anzac Day 2019  

In 2019 TLP editor Greg T Ross visited Japan under the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Programme. To commemorate the visit and the prog...

The Last Post Magazine Anzac Day 2019  

In 2019 TLP editor Greg T Ross visited Japan under the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Programme. To commemorate the visit and the prog...

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