Lismore boxing legend is rolling with the punches ahead of 80th birthday

STAYING POWER: Arthur Maloney has been training boxing in Lismore for 62 years. Photo: Peter Derrett

STAYING POWER: Arthur Maloney has been training boxing in Lismore for 62 years. Photo: Peter Derrett

ONE of the true gentlemen of Lismore is still punching well above his weight as he prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday next week.

Arthur Maloney has dedicated most of his life to mentoring kids and has put hundreds of them on the right path through his love of boxing.

He has trained everyone from troubled teenagers through to a future Commonwealth Games gold medallist in a coaching career which spans 62 years.

Maloney's Glove Club continues to stand the test of time and Arthur has no plans to retire any time soon.

How it started 

"My father Jack was very interested in boxing, he eventually became a trainer and referee, too" Arthur says.

"I'd listen to the boxing in Sydney on the radio Friday nights, we also watched the fights in Lismore that were held on Woodlark Street where the CBA Bank is now.

"I remember watching Digby Moran's father Ted box, I was very young but really enjoyed it."

YOUNG GUN: Arthur Maloney with one of his title belts in his early 20s.

YOUNG GUN: Arthur Maloney with one of his title belts in his early 20s.

Arthur had his first fight as a 12-year-old in 1953 and went on to fight for 13 years.

He won 62 of his 80 amateur bouts and would often defeat most of the boxers if they took a return bout.

He remembers winning an award locally as a 13-year-old for being the most scientific boxer of the tournament.

"I always tried to be a clever boxer instead of a slugger," Arthur says.

He went on to win a Golden Gloves Title in Sydney in 1965.

Taking on a lifelong coaching role

"I was helping dad coach in Lismore and a lady asked me to go out to Casino to give them a hand for a few weeks," Arthur says.

"That ended up being 10 years from 1967-1977, my plan was to finish up and focus on working in the garage at Lismore after that."

"One bloke had asked me if I could still train him, which I did, and more and more kids were poking their head in and asking to get involved when they saw what we were doing."

They outgrew the building on Ewing Street and Arthur eventually built his own 7m by 7m shed in his backyard at home in Goonellabah to accommodate the growing numbers.

"I was doing that for a long while and it was an insurance issue which closed that down in the early 90s," he says.

"We were told we would be in all sorts of trouble if anyone was hurt so we moved down to the Lismore Showground."

Building kids self esteem and getting them on the right path

Lismore City Council offered the glove club a permanent spot when Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre opened in 2009.

He was part of the consultation and is grateful that council and community organisations have seen the benefit of his work.

CURRENT CROP: Arthur and his latest group of boxers in Maloney's Glove Club. Photo: Peter Derrett

CURRENT CROP: Arthur and his latest group of boxers in Maloney's Glove Club. Photo: Peter Derrett

"I think the council knew we would do the right thing and keep it cheap for people who really needed it," he says.

"I've always thought we could make a difference with the kids.

"I've had a lot of people say to me 'if I send him up to you do you think you might be able to straighten him out a bit?'

I've had a lot of people say to me 'if I send him up to you do you think you might be able to straighten him out a bit?'

Arthur Maloney

"Some of them have just gone down the wrong track and most of them are great boys once they put their mind to something.

"They meet a lot of friends by coming to the gym and we try to put them on the right path."

Arthur has trained hundreds of kids with plenty going on to fight for Queensland state novice titles.

"We've only ever charged the minimum amount of money just to help us cover the rent," he said.

"We've had some great boys who have gone on to get good jobs, some of them have gone into really good local businesses, I'm really proud of them.

"A lot of women have come through and there's been some talented boxers amongst them."

Awards and family life 

Arthur was awarded a Pride of Australia medal for his service to the community in 2015.

He and his wife Mary are life members of Far North Coast Boxing Association while his son John was a ring announcer when they used to host fight nights at the Lismore Workers Club.

"Dad was supportive, I think he was in the corner for every fight I had," Arthur says.

"Mary has done a lot of work over the years and that certainly hasn't gone unnoticed.

"She was secretary-manager of the whole Far North Coast Boxing for a lot of years.

"John was great on the microphone and could always find a way to get the crowd involved.

"We've had a lot of support over the years and it's always very humbling when you get recognised with an award."

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION: Arthur was awarded a Pride of Australia medal for his service to the community in 2015. Photo: Peter Derrett.

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION: Arthur was awarded a Pride of Australia medal for his service to the community in 2015. Photo: Peter Derrett.

The future of the glove club

Arthur plans to stay involved for as long as he can and has shifted some of the responsibility across to long-time student turned coach Dylan Montgomery.

Montgomery came to the glove club as a 12-year-old and is now an established boxer and coach at the age of 25.

"He's very good with his coaching and he puts the kids through a lot of the stuff that I can't quite do any more," Arthur jokes.

"Some of it is a bit beyond me but they all respect him and they're in good hands."

He also has a great friendship with local champion Billy Robinson who started training as a seven-year-old and is still a big part of the gym as he approaches his 30th birthday.

FUTURE CHAMPION: Commonwealth Games gold medallist Shelley Watts (right) began her boxing career with Arthur Maloney in Lismore.

FUTURE CHAMPION: Commonwealth Games gold medallist Shelley Watts (right) began her boxing career with Arthur Maloney in Lismore.

Discovering a golden girl 

In 2009, a chance encounter with Arthur Maloney put Shelley Watts on the path to a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

"Shelley was going to Southern Cross University at the time and was captain of the Lismore Thistles women's soccer team," Arthur says.

"It was too wet for them to train on the oval one night so they ended up doing a bit of work in the gym with us."

"She immediately caught my eye and I told her if she came back and saw me that I would make a boxer out of her.

"Shelley won her first fight in 58 seconds and you could tell there was something special with her."

Watts returned home to the Mid North Coast a few years later where she joined the Australian Institute of Sport.

She created history in 2014 when she became the first Australian woman to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

She went on to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and now has a university degree in law and human movement.

In another local connection, one of her main coaches at the time in the AIS was Don Abnett.

Abnett had also trained under Arthur as a boy and is now the national coach in the Philippines.

"Don came to me as a 13-year-old from Casino in the 1970s and he's gone to the top as a coach," Arthur says.

"He's now coaching boxers in the Philippines.

"Ken Whitten is another one I had at Casino who went on to bigger things.

More recently, a former pupil has established her own boxing Gym in Goonellabah called Gospel Gloves.

Just like Arthur, Hayley Brown dedicates her time to kids to help keep them out of trouble.

"I'm very proud of Hayley and what she's doing for the community," he says.

"She was a good boxer herself and I'm happy to say I trained her for a while, too."