Elley Bennett 1924 to 1981

Son of Aboriginal parents Roger Bennett, bullock driver and athlete, and his wife Dolly, nee Mitchell.

Elley is raised at Barambah Aboriginal Settlement and Maryborough. At 13 he leaves school and becomes a rural labourer, cutting timber and sugar cane, digging vegetables and peanuts, and working with stock. He plays football at first, but his shortness pushes him into boxing. From punching a bag of sawdust dangling from a mango tree, he graduates to tent bouts and preliminaries at Maryborough. He moves to Brisbane and trains with Snowy Hill and begins to box in September 1946.

Bennett’s eight-year career as a professional boxer, mostly as a bantamweight, spanned 59 fights for 44 wins (40 by knockout), 1 draw, 13 losses and 1 no-contest. Described as an explosive boxer, Bennett had lightning fists, strong counters and a big punch.

In April 1948 in Melbourne he won the Australian bantamweight title with a third-round knockout over Mickey Francis. Next year he knocked out Emile Famechon (twice), Jean Jouas, and leading world-title contender Cecil Schoonmaker, failing against Harold Dade. In 1950 he twice defeated both Vic Eisen and Chai Sitphol but lost against Ernesto Aguilar.

He won the national featherweight title from Ray Coleman in April 1951, becoming a dual title holder. Next month he lost his bantamweight title to Jimmy Carruthers after a tough fifteen rounds, and told Hill “Thank heaven that’s over. No more bantamweight starving for me. I feel like a free man”. From December 1953 he fought as a featherweight, retiring in September 1954 with the crown.


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The Cherbourg Memory is an initiative of the Rationshed Museum and brings together the photos, videos, oral history recordings, documents and other artifacts of our lives on this settlement. It a website, an archive, an educational resource, a recording project, a research data-base, a store of the people’s stories and an interactive space for comments and engagement. We encourage the people of Cherbourg, the Indigenous communities in Australia and others who have experience of our settlement to help us create a living archive of Barambah-Cherbourg. So find out a little more about the Cherbourg Memory, discover how you can Participate, or find out how you can Contribute to the development of the Cherbourg Memory.