Livio Dobrez


This account of Mario Dobrez’s European career in the late 1920s and early 1930s and its traumatic Australian aftermath is necessarily personal, since he is my father. While he was alive and I was young I had no interest in the factual details of his boxing life, except for the stories of travel and occasional drama, and he had even less. I gather from him and from Italians who knew him at the time that he won most of his 100-odd bouts and was comfortably in the running for the European middleweight title, by which time, however, he was losing interest, having fought two matches with opponents of major reputation, one with Bosisio (which he lost), another with Jacovacci (which he drew or, if one is to believe a partisan report, effectively won).1 But within a decade of professionalism he was bored with the business and gave it up for better things, training other fighters, finally a job as accountant in a government enterprise. Vanity played its part in the switch: he wanted his Roman nose intact. In any case, though press cuttings refer to him as ‘the challenger’, he was totally indifferent to the idea of a challenge. The ‘climbing everest because it is there’ argument would have struck him as vacuous. He had no ‘will to win’, no ‘killer instinct’, no ‘urge to achievement’. The competitive ideal puzzled him.



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