Fred Brophy is the last of the traditional ‘Tent Boxing Troupe’ traveling with his tent and troupe of boxers around Queensland and setting up his boxing tent up in local towns and challenging all-comers. Tent boxing started in England, but outback and country Australia is the only place in the world where such an attraction still survives. Tent boxing started in the 1800’s with professional boxing troupes travelling to mining and outback country towns following shows and carnivals, putting up big top tents and taking on all-comers for cash. Fred Brophy is a 4th generation showman; he started boxing at five years of age and kept at it for about 20 years before crossing over to run and own his own troupe. When he was a boy the crowd would throw pennies and halfpennies onto the mat. He tells all children ‘What you see here today in the Fred Brophy’s boxing tent, you will talk about for the rest of your life’
In 2009 he was inducted into Qld’s boxing hall of fame, in 2010 after 35 years of traveling the length and breadth of Australia with his tent and troupe he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for entertainment to the outback.
Tent boxing is a dying tradition that was part of the Australian show culture and other social gatherings at one time in Australia there were over 45 boxing troupes traveling around Australia.
HOW IT WORKS!
Fred explains to the crowd the history of the boxing tent and where he has traveled; he will introduce his fighters and then call for challengers from the crowd to step forward to challenge his fighters. Local fighters are invited to spend three, one minute rounds against his boxers in the tent. Fred will offer a prize purse of $30 a minute if the challenger can defeat his fighter. After the local fighters are matched up against his troupe the show begins.
The fights take place on a canvas mat in the middle of the tent. There are no ropes just the mat signifying the ring. After the fighting is over the boxers and the locals forget the ringside grudges and join each other for a few ales and a friendly yarn.