By Simone Kerwin

IN his final children’s book, The Min Pins, master storyteller Roald Dahl encouraged readers to “watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, for the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.

Although they lived a world and a generation apart, this line always makes me think the great Mr Dahl would have got along famously with my parents.

By example, Mum and Dad have shown their brood of nine children and eight grandchildren – and plenty of others besides – that, while it’s wonderful to imagine worlds full of wizards, fairies and unicorns, your own environment is positively teeming with stories just as amazing.

Most Saturday afternoons when I was young, Mum would welcome her own mum for a cuppa and chat.

In the tradition of storytelling that has been central to human life since time immemorial, these two women passed on tales from their own lives and those in whose footsteps they trod, which were pure magic to me, a youngster with an ear for stories.

The snippets I collected around the kitchen table are ones I’ve always remembered, and repeated to my own kids, because as they were for me, they are part of their history, and vital to their sense of place in the world.

With eight children to transport and amuse, Mum often found herself parked in front of shopping centres with a carload of kids, while one of the ‘big ones’ went inside, perhaps to pick up some groceries or a video.

She turned what could have been mind-numbing stretches of waiting into storytime, encouraging us to conjure the back stories of the people walking past us, imagining what they were doing and what they might be saying.

Talk about watching with glittering eyes the whole world around you!

Dad’s storytelling skills would often emerge on Saturday nights as we sat around after tea and shared a block of chocolate.

He’d spin yarns which had just enough realism to leave us wondering whether they were true or not, about growing up with five brothers, about playing footy up north, and about the characters he had encountered around footy and cricket clubs, and in life.

His ability to paint a picture with words so you feel you have been there is, in my view, unparalleled.

Dad’s understanding of how those scenes made himself and others feel illustrates the very essence of storytelling – that it helps us experience life through a different lens, thus creating the kind of empathy we need to operate as good, caring people.

His stories prove the magic of the everyday, and that “the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.

The stories I’ve collected from Mum and Dad (and my own experiences) over the years flash back to me as I go about life in the town where we were all raised.
And the people in them become flesh and blood characters my kids love to hear about as much as those they read about in their favourite books.

“See that lady walking ahead of us?” I might ask. “She’s a champion
Rifle woman”.

“That bloke taking bike ed at school? He’s probably worth listening to – he rode in the Olympics and won a Commonwealth Games gold medal.”

“Who’s that man I just said hello to? He’s one of the best footballers country Victoria has ever seen.”

“That white-haired lady in the back seat at Mass? She helped deliver a lot of Wangaratta babies.”

“That fella ambling across the road? He was a key figure in St Kilda’s only premiership.”

“And that lady over there in the navy and white? She was my teacher in prep, grade one and grade two!”

These are story-hungry kids, as most are, who have also relished learning about their Dad’s sporting career, delight in asking him questions, and along the way have enjoyed meeting and knowing people from his story with names like Knackers, Psycho, Whale, Old Man, Pumpkin Head and Chimpy.

They devour the newspaper I help produce, which is further developing the stories of their lives and fleshing out new characters from their own era. They certainly watch with glittering eyes the whole world around them, and remind me to do the same.

Last week before basketball, for instance, my nine year old was perusing a plaque on the wall at the YMCA stadium.

I watched his thoughtful face, wondering what was crossing his mind, then waited as he bounced over and said: “A guy has his name on that sign over there, and has an oval named after him outside”.

I told him he had met that man before his passing, and shook hands with him, and the man had said, “Pleased to meet you, young man. I knew your great grandfathers, I know your grandfather, and now I know you.”

“Wow, so I knew him?” he marvelled, amazed again at his connection to characters in his city’s story.

If he was still alive, Roald Dahl would have turned 100 in September. I think he would be absolutely delighted that some of his final words are still so oft-quoted, and ring so true.

That quote from The Min Pins ends “…for those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.

Always look for the magic in the everyday. I promise it’s there; sometimes it takes some searching, but it’s always there. That’s one of the greatest life lessons I’ll take from my Mum and Dad….and Mr Dahl.



The Green and Gold dream, for some, begins at an early age……..

A curly-haired youngster, pedals furiously  and pushes his slender body to the limit, racking up lap after lap of the Showgrounds cycle track. His ambition is to one day achieve Olympic glory.

That magic moment comes for Dean Woods at Los Angeles in 1984, as he shares in Australia’s Teams Pursuit Gold Medal triumph.

For Glenn Clarke, it began when he scraped together enough money from his paper-round to buy his first bike. He turned down the handle-bars and started competing at the age of 13. Years later, he is selected to contest the Points Score event at the ’84 Olympics.

To access professional coaching, Belinda Hocking’s parents drove her to Albury twice daily. She had been an up-and-comer at the Wangaratta Swimming Club. Soon she was offered a position at the AIS and moved to Canberra.

So pronounced was her development  that she swam her way into the Beijing Olympics. A world-champion backstroker, she is now gearing up for the Rio Games.

Ben Derrick was raised in a family skiing environment. He was inspired by the memory of his uncle Charlie, an outstanding skier, who perished near Mt.Hotham in treacherous conditions, in 1965.

Ben’s first national title came in 1968 and he went on to be a member of the Australian skiing team for 14 years.

Brad Lamb grew up within walking distance of the sand-scrape course which circumvents the Tarrawingee football ground. At the age of 9 he started belting balls around the course.

He competed for years in the cut-throat  global pro circuit, and along the way, represented Australia at the world’s premier amateur teams event, the Eisenhower Cup.

Deanne Butler, Hannah Zavecz and Heather Oliver shaped their dreams in the helter-skelter of Wangaratta’s junior basketball program.

It took extraordinary devotion and plenty of sacrifice for them to negotiate the journey from the Barr Stadium and strut their stuff at international level.

This is their story ………..


DEANNE BUTLER first came to prominence when she started playing for the Wangaratta Warriors and turning out for Kilsyth Cobras in junior ranks. It enthused her so much that she knew the round-ball game was her calling.

She represented Victorian Country in three national Under-age championships. In the last – as the Under-18 captain – Deanne crossed paths with Albury’s Lauren Jackson (already destined for greatness), in matches against NSW Country.

Even then, Butler’s maturity was evident, as she explained her on-court role:

“I lead and control the play, and make sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do; make decisions and keep the emotions under control. It’s a lot of pressure, but I like it,” she said.

Deanne’s big break came in 1998 when she qualified for an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship, and played for their WNBL side. She was just 17 and had impressed those in the know with her performances as a point-guard.

The timing of her arrival was impeccable, as the AIS took out the WNBL title in her first year.

Butler progressed steadily. After two seasons with Dandenong Rangers, she moved to Bulleen Boomers. Voted the Under- 23 Australian Youth Player of the Year in 2003, she grasped the opportunity to play in Europe, firstly with Spanish club Ollis Solloer, then Italy’s Famila Schio.

In her time with the Italian club, she was part of their European Cup-winning team.

Deanne realised her greatest dream in 2005 when she was selected in the Australian Opals team which contested the Oceania Championships.

It was a tribute to her work ethic and discipline that she was able to fit in a hectic basketball schedule with a full-time job in the Police Force, which she joined at the age of 19.

“When I was playing in the WNBL, I would work night-shifts so I could play at week-ends. My time-management skills really developed,” she recalled a few years ago.

Deanne retired in 2011, after playing 251 WNBL games with five clubs, over 13 seasons. As a tribute to her contribution to the sport she was awarded Life Membership of the WNBL.

She was inducted to the prestigious Victoria Police Sporting Hall of Fame in 2013.


HANNAH ZAVECZ also captained Victoria Country in Under-Age basketball. The  Bulleen Boomers lured her and she capped a fine junior career by sharing in Vic Country’s Gold Medal triumph at the Under-20 national titles in 2003.

Playing mainly as a guard and tall forward, the 183cm Zavecz  followed in Butler’s footsteps  when she gained an AIS scholarship and began playing in the WNBL.

Many people were surprised when she took up a scholarship at the University of Wyoming, upon graduating from the AIS. But, in a brilliant four-year stint with the Cowgirls, marked by a number of individual accolades, Hannah became renowned as one of the competition’s stars.

There were plenty of claimants for her signature when she returned to Australia, but Hannah decided to throw in her lot with Bendigo Spirit, where she was united with Deanne Butler. Her next career-move proved fortuitous, as she re-joined her old club, Bulleen and helped them to the 2010/11 WNBL crown.

Hannah was on the cusp of national selection and joined the Opals on an overseas tour, but her big moment came in a three-test series against China, in Queensland in 2011.

In the dying stages of the first ‘Test’, with the game in the balance, it was Zavecz who made a telling contribution and saw the Aussies’ home to a 73-67 win.

She wore the Green and Gold in qualifying matches against New Zealand, but was squeezed out of the squad for the London Olympics.

Having already savoured the experience of playing in Europe, Hannah softened the disappointment of missing Olympic selection by returning for another season with Hungarian club Uniqua Sopron.

Her last few seasons were spent with Queensland club Logan Thunder, and the Canberra Capitals. She combined her time with the ‘Caps’ by completing a Degree in Nutrition.

But the last 18 months of her WNBL career were marred by injury, as she battled knee problems and underwent an ankle reconstruction.

Hannah has spent this season, with SEABL club Numawading Spectres.


HEATHER OLIVER began playing basketball at the age of 7 with local Club, Hustlers, where she came under the influence of Leanne Collihole, a dedicated coach and family friend.

“I had the basics when I first started, but Leanne helped to develop my game and take it to the next level,” Heather reflected earlier this year. “She had me on the running track most summers. I trained with some guys along the way and Leanne kept urging them not to take it easy on me.”

At 15 she began the six-hour trip, twice weekly, to train and play with Nunawading Spectres. In time she came under the notice of the national talent-spotters, who drafted her into the Australian Under-21 team for the 2007 World Championships in Russia.

The 5’10” guard excelled and was part of all 8 games at the world’s, culminating in the Gold Medal match, which the Sapphires lost to the United States.

Her shut-down role in the tournament earned her rave reviews and probably assisted  her application for a scholarship to the University of Southern California, where she became a regular in their starting line-up.

Armed with a degree in Psychology, Heather returned home and joined Bendigo Spirit. She played two seasons with them, took a year off to recover from the lingering effects of glandular fever, then made a successful comeback in 2014.

She played a major role in the Spirit’s march to the WNBL title and has continued to be a key figure in their line-up. During the 2015/16 season she passed the 100-game milestone with the Spirit.

In 2015, the former Wangaratta Rovers product was recruited to play netball with Sandhurst and took out the Bendigo FNL A-Grade Medal, after an outstanding season……


The hordes of kids who converge on the Barr Reserve’s YMCA stadium on most week-nights, undoubtedly harbour the same dreams that swept three youngsters onto the international stage.

It’s a matter of hard work – and good fortune – as to whether they can go all the way, to eventually adorn the Green and Gold……..

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In early-December 1983, Rovers legend Darryl Smith was mid-way through topping up his Thirds team for the year ahead.

As he scanned his recruiting list he ticked off the ‘definites’ and put a question-mark beside those he regarded as ‘doubtful’ or ‘possible’. Two blonde-haired kids from Junior Magpies were filed into the latter category.

He knew he needed to put a bit of work into them and, from all reports it would be worth the effort. Some headway was being made with the first – a boy called Walker – and he arranged an appointment with the other lad – the son of a Wangaratta premiership player, Rex Allen.

As they headed home from a visit to Byawatha, his companion asked how he thought they’d fared: “…….They’re terrific people……….It’d be great to get him, but, when it comes to the crunch I reckon he’ll play for Wang……” was Smith’s reply.

History reveals that the resultant signatures he obtained, of the two kids born 8 days apart, were to prove a freak recruiting ‘coup’………..


Thirty-three years later, Matthew Allen’s heart still beats strongly for the Wangaratta Rovers. He now coaches at Junior League club, Imperials, where his two boys – Sam and Joe – are taking great strides towards their ultimate aim – wearing the Brown and Gold guernsey.

Little wonder. They, and their sister Georgia, who plays netball for the Rovers Under-16’s, have been part of the scene at the Findlay Oval since they were born.

Matthew played the last of his 416 Ovens and Murray senior games in 2010, amidst universal acclaim for his longevity and consistency. He ranks highly among the League’s all-time great defenders – a view echoed by Tim Sanson and Matthew Fowler, two of his keenest combatants of the modern era.

Yet Darryl Smith recalls Matt’s dislike of being stereotyped as a backman in his earlier years. Like all kids, he had a fondness for kicking goals and relished the rare occasions he was pushed up forward.

But it was as a defender that he first broke into the Rovers senior side in 1985. Once he was in, he was there to stay. He enjoyed being part of the steady climb that the young group was making towards their eventual triumph – the 1988 premiership.

Matt was just 20 ( but with 76 games under his belt) when he lined up on Lavington coach Jeff Cassidy in the big one.

The former Geelong star took the points in the first half, but the youngster got the upper hand and won the duel conclusively, as the Hawks ran away to win by 26 points.

His Political Science studies took him to Bendigo for two years, where he represented the Bendigo League in a 34-game stay with Northern United.

On his return from an overseas trip in 1991, Matt made a couple of decisions. He would join his father on the family farm and would push for a game in attack with the Rovers.

The club was a little light-on for key forwards after Neale McMonigle had retired, and Matt was given his opportunity in front of goals. He kicked 83 in a prolific season, which included tallies of 13, 9, 8 and a couple of sevens.

But the good judges were unanimous. Although he was a very good forward, he had few peers as a backman. And that’s where he predominantly stayed for the next 17 years.

He was part of the 1993 and ’94 premiership teams, although his form wavered a little during 1994, as he struggled to throw off a knee injury.

However, it surprised many footy fans when he moved to Corowa-Rutherglen the following year. Matt’s three seasons with the ‘Roos produced two best and fairest awards and NSW representation.

When he returned to the Hawks in 1998 he brought with him a refreshed approach.

Not that he was at the front of the pack in pre-season training. His team-mates envied his training regime. Starting later than everyone, he never seemed to get out of first gear in running drills.

But once the competitive work started he was in his element. The weights-room was a definite no-go area for him and the boys joked that his stretching exercises involved nothing more than standing around with a bottle of water.

They put his fitness – and avoidance of soft-tissue injuries – down to wrestling frisky Merino sheep, or tramping around the rolling paddocks. The fact that he was one of the area’s finest tennis players was also handy for his conditioning.

The memories of vintage Allen performances flash back………His decade-long duels with the O & M’s best forward, Tim Sanson, come to mind. Asked for his opinion of his toughest opponent on the eve of his final game, Sanson plonked for Matt. “I’m glad I won’t have to put up with the bugger pestering me any longer,” he said. The pair exchanged guernseys after their final meeting.



A CITY’S central business district is often described as its heart, but in every community there are spots which could just as easily – and often more rightfully – claim the title.

They offer a true sense of the place, and as they are not usually part of the tourist trail, can only be pointed out to visitors by the locals.

For instance, if a visitor arrived in Wangaratta’s CBD seeking to quickly gain an idea of the city’s community spirit, I would direct them first to the Docker Street library, and then on to the HP Barr Reserve.

The former is common to most locales; libraries are often the place people of all backgrounds adopt as their second home, and where their needs for knowledge and social connection are met.

The latter, stitched from the fabric of Wangaratta’s rich sporting history, is uniquely our own.

Known as ‘The Barr’, it encompasses a broad spectrum of sporting facilities, from hard court tennis to rodeo riding, netball to squash, football to swimming, and skateboarding to gymnastics.

In recent years, I’ve become a regular visitor to the Wangaratta Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre at the Barr in its guise as the home of Wangaratta basketball.

My kids were drawn initially to the fast-paced nature of the game, and have been hooked as they’ve developed their skills and knowledge over a few seasons.

To be honest, after a busy day, the thought of being in a stadium surrounded by energetic young bodies and the echo of balls bouncing on wooden floors doesn’t seem all that appealing.

But joining the throng of people flooding into the centre can change your mind.

Outside, you may pass netballers going through their paces on the Barr Reserve courts, and young footballers training on the adjoining Bill O’Callaghan Oval in fading daylight.

You’ll see excited kids kitted out for basketball, and others full of chatter as they clutch towels and goggles on the way in or out of swimming lessons.

Passing through the centre doors is something akin to entering a bio-lab set up to study a microcosm of society.

The smiling staff will greet you, and you’ll glimpse people of all ages filling the gym, flicking through magazines and watching TV screens as they use the bikes and treadmills, or chatting while waiting to use the equipment.

On your left, you’ll see the indoor pool buzzing, again with all ages, while the tables in the walkway are taken by teenagers completing their homework on laptops, sharing stories, and snacks from the centre’s cafe, as well as families gathering pre or post activity.

From upstairs, you’ll hear the group exercise leader encouraging a sweaty bunch of patrons to push through the pain barrier on their path to fitness.

Passing into the centre’s basketball stadium on game nights, Mondays and Tuesdays, deepens the study of human interaction.

Junior players congregate on the edges of the three courts, waiting for the chance to spring into action.

Parents and grandparents are scattered around, discussing the week’s happenings – globally, nationally, and in their own worlds.

Younger siblings find fun climbing the stands, playing chasey, bouncing and catching balls, happy to roam the safe environment guarded by like-minded families, and learn how to amuse themselves – it’s rare entertainment without screens, and they love every minute.

While some teenagers prepare to referee junior games, the budding relationships of others take shape as they keep an eye on their crushes or (if brave enough) exchange a few words.

Then it’s game time, which offers a chance – as do all kids’ competitions – to see sport in its most pure form.

Kids of varying abilities thrown together in team environments provide some of the most wonderful, inspiring moments you can see from week to week.

There are the obvious stars, some of whom have been around basketball since they were babies and know these courts like the backs of their hands.

Others are natural athletes who, you get the feeling, will excel at any sporting feat they attempt, some with the drive to go all the way.

There are the rough diamonds, kids who – with a little attention and encouragement from a coach or two – will hone that X factor that sets them apart.

Then there are the real heart-lifters – the kids who have never played sport before in their lives, don’t like heavy focus on themselves, or lack the confidence to believe they can be great players, but have a go anyway.

I’ve seen some beautiful moments involving those players, whose sporting careers may begin and end on these very courts this year or the next, but who will carry snapshots of their successes with them through their lives.

The expression on a player who scores his or her very first goal, for instance, is enough to bring tears to your eyes – especially if it takes a season to happen.

The youngster who has struggled to catch the ball, but snaps up an intercept and manages a pass to a teammate will show you the meaning of true happiness – that it comes in these tiny moments that should be celebrated and remembered.

Of course, there are lowlights for these youngsters – own goals, injuries that seem almost inevitable because of the pace they travel down the court, and the feeling they’ve let their teammates down with an errant pass or a foul.

But the rallying cries and care from their young teammates, volunteer coaches and keen spectators lend weight to the oft-maligned view that sport is a metaphor for life.

We can face those lows, or truly celebrate the highs scattered along our paths, only with the support of those around us.

And the understanding that we each bring something different to the table, but every contribution is valuable and there to form part of the team, is central to the whole system operating successfully.

If a bunch of kids can help illustrate that so beautifully without even realising, it shouldn’t really be so difficult for the rest of us.

Towards the end of each game, the next age group and their support crew will move into the stadium ready to play, continuing right up the senior matches that end the night.

For 10 minutes or so, the kids have a larger audience, and those who will be ‘big game players’ stand taller and relish the experience.

Game over, the two teams huddle together to cheer each other, their coaches and refs, then go their separate ways, back through the walkway still chock-full of people, including those arriving from work with their gym bags in tow, ready to work off the rigours of a long day.

There are catch-ups, adults marvelling at the development of the kids, discussions about what’s for dinner, and calls of ‘See you at training on Thursday’.

These are just a couple of nights in the life of the centre – there is activity across the Barr all week – but to me, the scenes they offer are community personified.


# Special thanks to Guest Blogger – Simone Kerwin .



It was during the mid-sixties that Channel 7 announced the arrival of a brand new Monday night program – T.V Ringside.

The young fellas in our footy club took to it straight away and it became a must-see. The entry-fee to someone’s place was usually a couple of long-necks ( Monday night being the mandatory cut-off time for drinking before Saturday’s game). We would prop ourselves in front of the telly and cheer on all of the fighters who appeared on the bill at Melbourne’s Festival Hall.

Seven’s chief, Ron Casey, the rotund, highly-respected head of ‘World of Sport’, was the host. His off-sider was Merv Williams, an old pug who developed a cult following.

Merv, ‘whose black-rimmed glasses were pinned by ears thickened from boxing’, would describe tired and beaten boxers who “couldn’t run out of sight on a dark night”, and “swayed like jelly in a wind”, or “had less chance than a crippled prawn in a flock of seagulls”.

There was a cast of hundreds who climbed into the square ring. For some, it was the launching pad to careers which took them to national, Commonwealth and even World titles.

For others it was their opportunity for exposure. They slugged away in four and six-round prelims and the roar of the crowd and a shower of coins was evidence that they had given fanatical fight fans their money’s worth.

We reserved a special cheer for the local hero, Ross Colosimo, who was one such pugilist to strut his stuff in the ‘House of Stoush’.



Rossy has long been the standard-bearer for boxing in Wangaratta. I call out to renew acquaintances with this 74 year-old, 5 foot 2 inch pocket-rocket and find that he’s still as lively as ever.

His welcome to me is to get down on his haunches and do about 20 push-ups. His record is 450 in a touch over 14 minutes.He would have kept going, had I not suggested we relax and sit down for a yarn.

The Colosimo gym, complete with boxing ring, is situated at the rear of his Tone Road home, It’s a sort of monument to his past, although he still works out with anyone who’d like to go a few rounds.

He loves training youngsters, but warns them that the boxing game involves plenty of hard work. The main prerequisite is to learn to skip. Sadly, he says, these days, all they want to do is get in and start throwing punches. They drift off……..


Rossy’s from Calabria, in southern Italy. His family – mum, dad, 7 boys and 3 girls – packed into a van when they arrived in Melbourne in 1953. The destination ? Beechworth.

Dad got a job picking hops at Panlook’s in Eurobin. At week’s end, when the pickers would sit down to have a meal and a few wines, they would conduct boxing contests. Little Ross would sometimes have three fights a night.

He was entranced by the Noble Art. When Jimmy Sharman brought his boxing troupe to the Beechworth Show, Ross, a mere whippersnapper, put up his hand when the spruiker pleaded for a local to ‘take a glove’.

“Who’d like to fight the little Italiano”, Sharman bellowed. They found someone around Ross’s weight and it turned out a real crowd-pleaser. He earned £1 for his effort and used it to get a couple of sheep cut up. Mamma was very happy when Rossy arrived home with the week’s meat.


He moved to Melbourne in 1958, when he was offered a job as a bootmaker. Late that year he had his first official fight, at Festival Hall – the first of 21 he would have over the next 12 months.

His mum was against boxing. ” I’d had 15 pro fights before a workmate of my dad happened to ask him if the Colosimo mentioned in Merv Williams’ reports in the Sporting Globe was a relative. She got used to it eventually.” Ross recalls.

It was the classy Les Dunn who inflicted his first defeat, after 9 straight wins. Dunn, who later fought Johnny Famechon for the state Featherweight title, was good opposition and they were well-matched.

He also beat Ross on points in the re-match two months later, but the little dynamo exacted his revenge in their third clash, which was hailed by the Sporting Globe, as a ‘rip-roaring contest’.

It led to his being rated number 4 lightweight in Australia and number 2 super-welterweight. One of the biggest thrills of his life was pitting his skills against an idol of his – the durable and highly-rated Italian import Aldo Pravisani – in an exhibition bout.

Ross was back in Wangaratta, operating the Merriwa Cafe in Ford Street, by 1961.

He was working away one morning, whilst mentally preparing for his fight against Melbourne’s Brian Kane, at Beechworth that night. A stranger called in and, after the pleasantries, offered him a healthy bonus if he could ride his bike to Beechworth, and then win the fight.

“I thought it was strange, but I accepted the challenge, which was stupid, because, once the fight started, I had no energy, ” Ross recalls.

They met again, three weeks later, at St.Patrick’s Hall in Wangaratta. It was a brutal 10-rounder, in front of a near-capacity crowd, which included a large contingent of Kane supporters.

‘……….One of the most sensational bouts ever held in Wangaratta’, was the media description of the fight. ‘……..When the last round finished and referee Bob Rose put his hand on Colosimo’s head, dozens of people leapt into the ring. Elements of the crowd were critical of the verdict……’

‘…….Kane, with blood pouring from several face cuts, had difficulty in getting through Colosimo’s fans to congratulate the Riverina champion…..’
It was the same Brian Kane, who, 20 years later, was gunned down in Brunswick’s Quarry Hotel by two balaclava-clad hit-men ; another victim of the gangland wars.

Ross became known for his fast two-fisted punching and relentless aggression. It made him a real crowd-pleaser and a favourite of audiences, from Melbourne, throughout country Victoria and in Sydney, where he had several fights in 1963.
One of them was against highly-rated Canberra lightweight Billy Ebsworth, at Sydney Stadium. Ebsworth started a 6/4-on favourite with the bookies, but was unable to withstand a torrent of punches, and Colosimo flattened him with a low-looping right in the third round. He tried to get off the canvas, but slumped back and referee Vic Patrick completed the count.

Rossy appreciated his regular appearances on TV Ringside. Many of the boxers he tangled with became firm friends and he meets some of them when he and his wife Eileen attend Past & Present Boxers Re-unions.

The record book shows that he had 62 official pro bouts, but you can more than treble that amount if you count his amateur and tent fights, exhibitions and unofficial contests.

His only regret was that he didn’t have a manager. Opportunities presented themselves at times, when his career was really flourishing. He perhaps needed someone to push his case; to clinch that vital bout which would help him climb the ratings ladder.

He had his last fight, at the age of 39, when he knocked out Dale Beer at Wagga, but has never really parted from the game he loves.

He played a couple of seasons with Beechworth, and spent 16 years, on and off, working with the Wangaratta IMG_1022footballers. From 1974-’88 he helped Greta with their conditioning.

When he retired, he was the reigning Riverina lightweight title-holder – a belt he first won in 1961.

He’s not sure who the incumbent is – it could still be him for all he knows !

My bet is that the feisty Rossy Colosimo would willingly take on anyone who wished to challenge for that crown – he‘d enjoy another good stoush……