Steve_Zoranich

Dodgy Perth spent Sunday morning in the pub watching one man hit another man in the head.

Because it was the Inglewood Hotel, this was happening on TV. Unlike our usual local, the Civic, where these kind of events happen in the car park out the back.

Anyway, we digress.

In 1954, the Empire Games (now called the Commonwealth Games) were being held in Vancouver. One of Perth’s star entries was Australian amateur heavyweight boxing champion, Steve Zoranich.

Steve was 25 at the time, having arrived in WA from Croatia at the age of eleven.

The Australian team was to fly to Canada via Hawaii, but for unexplained reasons, at the very last minute Steve was refused a USA visa, required to change planes.

Steve was bewildered: “My opinions have never affected anybody. I have never spoken from a platform, nor stood as a candidate for any Party. I have never appeared in court, nor even been cautioned for political reasons. I can’t understand it.”

He appealed to the American authorities but they refused to change their minds.

The only other way to Canada was via England, but this would have to be entirely at Steve’s own expense.

Fortunately his friends and family immediately started crowdsourcing the necessary money, which was raised amazingly quickly.

Even so, it took Steve nine days and 32,000 km to get to Vancouver, by way of Singapore, Calcutta, Cairo, Rome, London, and Iceland.

He also had no trouble with the Canadian immigration officials, the Americans still having failed to provide a reason for refusing a visa.

We wish that this story ended well, but it doesn’t.

In the first round his English opponent, Brian Harper, floored Zoranich with a solid right cross. Zoranich quickly got up, but before anyone knew what had happened, the referee claimed he had finished the count and the Englishman was declared the winner.

The manager of the Australian boxing team immediately protested, but his objections were waved away by the referee.

If there is a moral to this, it is that not all stories have happy endings. Bring on the next Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so the right man can win at least once.

One thought on “Fight of the century. 1954 style.

  1. I follow the “croatia” tag so fancy seeing a blog by dodgyperth! Love your blog, will keep on reading older posts. Cheers from dodgier fremantle!

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