Boxing and recruiting
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.
Wrestling on deck
This film was made during the New Zealand convoy’s 1915 journey from Wellington to Egypt, via Hobart and Colombo. On long voyages like this, an especially popular way for soldiers to spend their free time was watching wrestling bouts. Here the crowd watches intently as two soldiers, possibly former professional wrestlers, come to grips on the deck of the troopship. This appears to be a “worked”, or staged, bout, rather than a genuine contest. Gambling was prohibited on board troopships, but it seems highly likely that money changed hands on this occasion.
Clowns and kids raise funds for war effort
Clowns boxing and performing ‘pratfalls’, children singing, dancing and marching in formation – this was the crowd-pleasing entertainment at a Red Cross fundraiser at Bondi Junction, Sydney in 1915. The Australian Red Cross had been formed just a year earlier, at the outbreak of the war. It concentrated on raising funds to support the war effort by organising public events such as the ‘fete’, or festival, seen here. This newsreel clip was originally silent and a popular brass band tune of the period, The Gippsland March, has been added to the soundtrack.