Sid Godfrey: 1920’s Australian Boxing Champion
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
It was an exhausting battle of twenty rounds and in front of 7000 spectators. Harry Stone, an American-born boxer and the current Lightweight Champion of Australia, had come face to face with Sid Godfrey. Godfrey standing in his corner of the ring weighing 62.5kgs and standing at 170cm, and Stone in the opposite corner, awaited the final results of the strenuous and painstaking bout.
Referee Joe Wallis, with the final results, crowned a new 'Lightweight Champion of Australia' and awarded the 'Referee belt' to Sid Godfrey, Australia's boxing hero. Godfrey who was already celebrating his 24th birthday that same day, had another birthday gift to rejoice over, and another win to add to his tally.
After witnessing the fight, a journalist penned:
“Sid landed his left often enough to cause his opponent’s nose to assume a cherry-like appearance, and his body must have been sore through the pounding it received from powerful left and right uppercuts.”
Stone, nicknamed ‘Hop’, attempted what was known as his famous kangaroo act – to ‘jump’, however it would be met by Godfrey’s weighty and well-placed right uppercut to the body. Onlookers would chant for Stone to jump, unfortunately on one occasion a ‘blow landed a little below the belt, but apparently with no ill-effect.’
Going into the bout, it was stated that Stone had never been knocked out on
Australian soil, and that Godfrey would find it equally as challenging. However, “Godfrey is going to try, and a man with a wallop like he carriers is always likely to get even the best of ‘em.” Godfrey’s focused approach and ability to calculate moves on the fly, helped gain the victory, regardless of a knockout.
Born in the rural district of Raglan, near Bathurst, in 1897, Sidney George 'Sid' Godfrey started boxing in his father's farm at age 12, before moving to Sydney at 14 to work as a blacksmith. He trained in Redfern with Jim Barron (pro boxer) from which he improved greatly.
Through notable amateur boxing success, Godfrey caught the attention of 'Snowy' Baker (boxing promoter) who arranged 12 professional fights for Godfrey in 1916. Of those fights, Godfrey won 6 by quicks knockouts. By 1917 he held The Australian Featherweight title. His success didn't dampen but grew, having won 16 out of the 18 fights he undertook in 1918.
Godfrey had successfully achieved what others only dream of. He left the rural country town of his home, had moved to the city and went from 5 shillings a week in pay, to a couple of hundred pounds a fight. By 1921, he is noted at making 800 pounds (76,000 AUD today), after fighting in front of 15000 spectators at Sydney Stadium (of which thousands were turned away), at Rushcutters Bay.
Totalling 1137 rounds from his 81 bouts, Godfrey wasn’t a stranger to a long fight. The average length of a boxing match in the 21st Century is 5.9 rounds, yet Godfrey had an average of 14 rounds. He even competed in bouts that reached an astonishing 20 rounds (both fights with Edwards and Stone). Godfrey and Edwards met in 1921, and Edward was challenging competition with career statistics of 83 wins, 8 losses and 5 draws.
Newspapers said, “If Edwards did land a real hard one, a punishing blow, Sid could be seen gravely thinking about how he came to permit it, and how best to retaliate and get even.”
Edwards was aware that Godfrey was known for his lethal right, but didn’t seem to know that.
Journalists also said, “Sid Godfrey’s left is only exceeded in force and effectiveness by his right. His hook is something for any man of any weight or class, to avoid; and his left swing would drop a camel.”
So, as Edwards leaned his head towards his right, exposing his left shoulder, he was opening up a danger zone, and inviting Godfrey to do damage. Godfrey fought not only with his hands, but with his brain, for this, ‘Sid was often described as the cleanest and cleverest boxer in the Commonwealth.’ This style of fighting sounds very similar to the movie Rocky, where Balboa changes the lead hand. In a way he advertises a 'weaker' side with a plan to change lead hands, catch the opponent off guard, and unleash a final blow.
Over Godfrey’s long-standing boxing career, he was awarded upwards of twenty thousand pounds, which, when converted from 1926 currency rate to 2020 AUD, is upwards of 2.5 million dollars. Godfrey earned the title of the K.O. King for his ability to knockout the opponent and utilise both forceful left and right swings (Knockout average: 34.57%), and rightfully so.
Statistics from Godfrey's career:
Career spanned: 1916-1925 Fights: 81 Wins: 53 (Knockouts: 28) Draws: 10 Prize Money: 20,000 pounds
During research, this poem was discovered among newspaper clippings.
'DEDICATED TO SID GODFREY' - Poem by - P.F.COLLINS
An Australian Champion Boxer
"Success to Sid Godfrey, a champion of fame,
An Australian born who's made a great name.
He's won many battles - a hundred or more,
And he's still going strong with prospects in store.
The American 'Eagel' he did overthrow,
He fought with great caution till crimson did flow,
As round after round of the battle went by;
The cheers they were deafening - excitement was high.
For a time both their efforts were very slow,
Till Sid. on his mettle sent home a real blow;
Then down went George Eagel with a heavy flop, And the audience laughed loud when Sid fell on top.
For twenty long rounds, till the sound of the gong,
The battle of science went steadily on;
Then the Referee crowned Australia's brave son,
The verdict was given - the contest was won.
George Eagel's a fighter not easy to beat:
He is strong, he is fearless, and quick on his feet.
We wish him good luck, may he fight many more.
This youthful fighter from Columbia's fair shore.
We're proud of you, Sid, and we've cause to be so,
May success attend you wherever you go.
The sons of Australia admire you to-day,
As they admired Darcy, who in youth passed away."
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