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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.

Jerry Jerome, c.1912 (printed 2016)

Milton Kent

inkjet print (printed from original acetate negative) (image: 16.0 cm x 12.5 cm)

Jerry Jerome (1874–1943) was the first Aboriginal fighter to win a national boxing title. A man of Yiman descent, he became an enthusiastic amateur sportsman while working as a stockman in Queensland, taking up boxing in earnest in 1908 at an age when most fighters were considered past their prime. Despite his age and lack of training, he won the Australian middleweight crown in 1912. Between 1913 and 1915, he won 39 of his 63 fights, mostly by knockout or by exhausting opponents with his popularly-appreciated tactics of dancing, weaving and spasmodic raining of speedy blows. In between, he was withdrawn from contest in Sydney by the office of the Protector of Aborigines, Jerome’s legal guardian. Later, as it became clear that he was earning far more than any other indigenous person in Queensland, the Chief Protector of Aboriginals ordered that his affairs were to be managed by his office, temporarily preventing Jerome from accessing much of his income. Having broken his wrist in a fight in 1914, he fought nine times in 1915 before retiring. In fact, after ceasing to box professionally Jerome battled in boxing tents and coached boys in the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement (Barambah) where he lived, still fit and riling the authorities to the last.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery

Accession number: PROP2016.1.01

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Milton Kent (age 24 in 1912)

Jerry Jerome (age 38 in 1912)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related portraits

1. Jerry Jerome, c.1912. All Milton Kent.
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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.