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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Les Darcy, Australian Middleweight Boxer, c. 1910

an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 20.3 cm x 14.1 cm, image: 20.3 cm x 14.1 cm)

Les Darcy (1895–1917), boxer, earned his first money in the ring as a fourteen-year- old. By the time he was eighteen, Sydney boxing promoters had begun to import fighters to challenge him. Throughout 1915 and 1916 Darcy won 22 consecutive bouts, in all winning 46 of his 50 professional fights. His toughness, his boyish looks and his humble background quickly made him a national hero – until he was suspected of shirking enlistment. Denied a passport, he stowed away on a ship bound for New York on the eve of the 1916 conscription referendum. He was stripped of his titles, and American promoters dropped him. He became a US citizen and volunteered for the army in April 1917, but a fortnight later was admitted to hospital with a dental infection; soon, he died of pneumonia. After an immense funeral procession in San Francisco, his young body was brought back to Australia. Some 250,000 people are said to have lined Sydney’s streets as his coffin made its way back toward his native Maitland.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008

Accession number: 2008.65

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Les Darcy (age 15 in 1910)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.