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Learning the Ropes/Saunders, Keit/Paper/0855752378/S055-C2
Aboriginal Studies Press
In 1956, when Keith Saunders dropped "knockout specialist" Dave King in a fight at Wollongong, the referee administering the count was startled, when he reached five, to hear King say from the canvas, "I'm okay...but I'm staying here. This bastard hits too hard."
From the lean and terrifying days of the Depression in rural New South Wales to the exhilaration and excess of Australian boxing in the sixties and after, the life of boxer Keith Saunders has been extraordinary. As a young Aboriginal man already embittered by his experience of racism, Saunders saw his involvement in sport as a way of becoming "a somebody" and maintaining his self-respect in the face of exploitation and injustice. At sixteen he fought in the New South Wales state boxing finals, along with Jimmy Carruthers (later Australian and world bantamweight champion), and by the time he was twenty-one he had boxed with "some of the best fighters in the world".
In this fast-paced, funny autobiography that includes some electrifying first-hand accounts of great Australian fights, we glimpse a little of the indulgent world that opened to a few successful boxers, the frustration felt by those Australians who endure racial indignities, and also some of the horror and tragedy of the boxing ring.