Page 12 SOUVENIR-CHARTERS TOWERS, 1872 TO JULY,
THE OLD DAYS
INTERESTING RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHAMPIONS
THE following account of the doings of old-time fighters and
footrunners, of happenings in the days
"when our beards were black" were first published in 1922, and
were very kindly supplied by one of the participants in the events
described. and who signed himself "Ne'er Do Well."
Is it not strange, this clinging to the past, This tenderness for day
whose light is gone, This fond belief that skies were brighter once,
And suns more brilliant shone?
Sometime in 1874, Sam Shepherd (known by the soubriquet of "Sam the
Shepherd," as he had worked among
sheep), fought William Perry. Shepherd, in that fight, stove in three
of Perry's ribs with a right-hand punch. I think in the third round.
Shepherd also beat White in eight very short rounds. White was the
cleverer of the two, but Shepherd was heavier and a much harder hitter
than White. Perry was, I believe, an Englishman, the other two New
South Welshmen. After the abovementioned fights, old Ned Seymour of the
All Nations' Hotel, Mosman Street, offered to back Shepherd to fight
any man in the North for £50 aside, and rumour said one or two
stone in weight would not be considered as a bar to the match. Shepherd
was about 5ft. 10½ins. in height, and 11st.. 71b. in weight. He
was broad-shouldered, but not thick through from chest to back. He
was not a clever boxer, but certainly a hard hitter with his right.
It was. I think, towards the end of '74
fought Shepherd. Easton had just arrived on the field
from Bendigo (Victoria), where he
had had three or four turns up with the Rawnes. The dispute with
Shepherd arose over a matter of fair play. between Sam's mate and a
stranger. It soon went from angry words to blows, "for those were the
days when the angry blow surplanted the word that chides."
No three months newspaper warfare before a fight in that time. The
fight started in front of Joe Woodburn's old store, somewhere about
the Royal Hotel is situated. Four sharp, short rounds were got through,
when the police came upon the scene. The friends of both sides, and
principals, then betook themselves over to the flat, whereon later
stood a blacksmith's shop. I think it is known as Romberg's
flat - all bush at that time. Ten more short rounds were fought.
Shepherd had met his Waterloo. He slept the sleep of the just for ten
minutes or so.
He lay like a warrior taking his rest.
While his friends and foes stood
Dan Hayes was the only one with Easton. At that time they were mates
working in the Moonstone. Dan was a good all-round sport, and in later
days raced some very good horses on the Towers. The two policemen who
in the first place disturbed the merrymakers, afterwards entered into
the sport, assisted. to keep a good ring, and declared for fair
At the end of '74 Ted Honey was one of the best 100 yards runners about
the Towers. Warden Charters had a black boy, a good runner, on the flat
or over sticks: also a fairly good high jumper. Tom Gray and Jack
O'Neill were also smart young fellows. O'Neill, although short of
stature, ,could clear 4ft. 6ins. in a standing jump, which in those
days was considered good. In February or March, 1875, perhaps the most
important battle ever fought up to that time in North Queensland,
took place between William Brown and Edward Easton. The contest took
place on a well chosen piece of ground., just to the right-hand side of
the road, as you look towards the Welcome Flat, with the site of
the Towers Brewery on Alabama Hill, at your back, the road to the old
Black Jack crushing