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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Dave Sands

n.d.
an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 13.9 cm x 8.9 cm)

Dave Sands (1926–1952) was one of the six boxers collectively known as ‘The Fighting Sands Brothers’. Of Dunghutti descent, he and his brothers Clem, Percy, George, Alfie and Russell, were born at Burnt Ridge near Kempsey on the mid north coast of New South Wales, and took up boxing as young men in emulation of their father and a great-uncle, who’d had some success as tent and bare-knuckle fighters. Dave, the most successful of the sextet, was known for his dedication, fortitude and modesty. He won his first Australian middleweight title in May 1946 and later that year took out the national light heavyweight championship. He won the British Empire middleweight boxing title while on a tour of England in 1949, defeating a fancied British fighter named Dick Turpin and rising to the rank of number 1 in the world. In 1950, he won the Australian heavyweight title, making him the middle, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion simultaneously. In all, Dave Sands won 97 of his 110 professional bouts. He died, aged 26, when a truck he was driving overturned; at the time of his death, he was rated number three in the world middleweight rankings, behind Americans Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta. Dave Sands was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Dave Sands

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

The Sands Brothers (group photograph)
The Sands Brothers (group photograph)
The Sands Brothers (group photograph)
The Sands Brothers (group photograph)

Seeing stars

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2013

Joanna Gilmour explores photographic depictions of Aboriginal sportsmen including Lionel Rose, Dave Sands, Jerry Jerome and Douglas Nicholls.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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