Wally Bates’ legacy lives on in boxing

Young boxers at Wally Bates Memorial Boxing Club.
Young boxers at Wally Bates Memorial Boxing Club.

The Wally Bates Memorial Boxing Club is a conduit to the great work and philosophy of Midland�s indigenous boxer, World War II soldier and coach Wally Bates some 30 years since his death.

Old and young boxers from all backgrounds and skills attend but everyone is equal within the walls of the club.

The four O�Donnell brothers � Garry, Alan, Bevan and Graham � established the club in 1988 with a vision to pass on the legacy and philosophy of their former mentor and coach.

Just as it did with Wally Bates and the O�Donnell brothers, boxing is used as a vehicle of respect, discipline, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Considered one of Midland�s greatest sportsmen and gentlemen, Wally was an orphan raised at Parkerville Children�s Home.

As a young Noongar man, he was an all-round sportsman who showed great interest in boxing from an early age.

After spending some time in the Army and serving in World War II, Wally began to take his boxing more seriously, eventually representing WA in the State Boxing Team in 1947 and 1949 and becoming State Champion in 1954.

Wally went on to become a judge, referee and a coach of the sport, encouraging young boys of any race to burn off their energy in constructive ways and teaching them that fighting was to be saved for inside the ring.

The club is staunchly family-oriented and has remained accessible to the community for 27 years, still charging just $2 a night.

�Primarily we teach discipline and respect through boxing, but the people who come here are here because they want to be, they all have their own reasons,� coach and co-founder Graeme O�Donnell said.

�It�s a really positive, encouraging and safe environment, and it�s really special to us to see how we can have a profound impact on people�s lives just by teaching them what Wally taught all of us.�

The boxing club recently received a $2000 grant from St John of God Midland�s Community Wellbeing Grants program to buy some much-needed equipment. St John of God Midland provided grants between $500 and $2000 to 10 other local community organisations.