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Ern McQuillan Senior
, c.1980's

by Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 30.5 cm x 40.5 cm)

Ern McQuillan (1905-1988), boxing trainer, was born in Newtown, Sydney, and worked there all his life. He trained as a cabinetmaker but during the Depression, like many unemployed men, he boxed 'to earn a few quid'. He opened his first gym in O'Connell Street, Newtown in about 1928. When it was requisitioned as a sock factory during the war he shifted his operation to the corner of King and Holt streets. He moved to his third and final Newtown premises in 1974, where he continued to train boxers until the week before his death. Following an intuitive philosophy of pushing them until they were 'rock hard', McQuillan coached more national boxing champions than any other trainer, with fighters including Tony Mundine, Vic Patrick, Jack Hassen and Bobby Dunlop. For some thirty years he was also the 'matchmaker' for the Sydney Stadium at Rushcutters Bay, where fights were held every Monday night, and he appeared regularly on TV Ringside in his capacity of matchmaker and fight promoter at the South Sydney Leagues Club. His family recall that 'every day of his life he went to the gym, came home, had his tea and fell asleep'. On his deathbed he whispered 'tell that mug to hold his hands up'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2003
Accession number: 2003.109