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Trevor King... Oz Boxing's Greatest Success Story
A man who went from strength to strength and overcame whatever obsticles blocked his way in life. An inspiration to me and a true champion.... he is his story....
Boxer… Gambler… Minister
By Barbara Martyn, 13th Dec 1967, Womans Weekly
He was a “sharp dresser” in his early thirties, with good looks covered by a healthy tan collected at various race meetings. His manner and movements had a smoothness well suited to his profession… gambling. As he sat in the coffee lounge going over the racing form, the big, brassy sound of a Salvation Army band burst through to him. He wandered outside. A fresh-faced young girl in a black Sally bonnett caught his eye. For amusement, he started winking at her while she stood with the band, trying to make her laugh and “put her off”. He little realised as he stood there that he would be soon joining this army and one day marrying this girl.
You know this story, you say? Its the Damon Runyon one they used for the film “Guys and Dolls”, where the professional gambler falls in love with a Sally and is converted? Well the similarity is striking, but this is a real story of Australian “guy” Trevor King and his wife Judy. The scene described happened a little over four years ago at Parramatta, N.S.W.
Trevor, now Captain King of the Salvation Army, an ordained minister, told the story with frankness and humour as he sat bouncing his six-month-old son, Adam, on his knee in his new Army quarters in Maroubra.
Trevor and Judy (also a captain), who have just taken over the Maroubra parish, had moved moved into their new home behind the Salvation Army Citadel in Boyce Rd only a few days before. They were full of enthusiam for the work they planned for their first parish. As Trevoer fed Adam his orange juice and spoke of his hopes to help young people find the best way to live, it was hard to believe just a few years before this man had been, in his own words, “deeply mixed up with the underworld of Sydney”
“Through my life as a professional gambler, I came in contact with thieves, prostitutes, and even murders,” he said “Shortly after i joined the army, i went to Parramatta Jail with Judy to give service for the inmates. Almost every second man recognised and greeted me.” “What an impression for the girl i hoped to marry! But Judy said ‘It seems you know more people inside jail than outside.’”
Before turning to gambling for a living, Trevor was a professional boxer for 15 years, winning 55 out of 56 fights including the N.S.W Featherweight Championship. As his story unfolded further it became clear that his whole life had been a fight; he had faced many adversities with the same courage he showed in the boxing ring. “Looking back, i can see all my life has been a preparation for my work now, and that it doent matter what happens to a man but how he faces his experiences that counts,” he said.
Trevor spent his childhood in Cessnock NSW. “My father was an alcoholic, and through this, i first came to know the Salvation Army. Many a time they would bring Dad home when he was incapable of making it on his own. I also remember the food and clothing they gave us and little presents at Christmas time.” “This was my only contact with religion as a child, but the memory of their kindness always remained.”
In his early years, Trevor was crippled by rheumatism. At 11 he was told he would never walk again. But through a program of exercises, massage and careful diet he regained the use of his legs. It was from exercising in the gym that Trevor developed a love for boxing. At 15, he won his first professional bout – against a man of 23. “I owed my physical strength to the rigid program of exercises and the special vegetarian diet, which i kept up for the whole of my boxing career,” he said. “ Although i was always a little slow on my feet, i was compensated by being very quick with the hands. In my whole career i was knocked down only once and never knocked out.”
Trevor fought his way through to become Lightweight Champion of the Northern Coalfields. Then he won the state Featherweight Championship and became number one contender for the Australian title. Despite his almost perfect record this title was never to be his. He signed to fight a title bout against champion Elley Bennett in 1954 and also entered contracts to fight the British champion and the world champion in America. Three weeks before the title fight, Trevor was injured in a motor accident. For the second time in his life he was told he would never walk again. H eremembered how exercises had helped him before and was determined not only to walk again, but also fight. This time he was helped and encouraged by the nursing nuns of St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, NSW, another example of devoted service firmly impressed on his memory. Through sheer determination, he altered the doctors predictions from complete crippling to walking with a perminant limp, then walking. By 1960 he was back in the ring.
“My exercises included alot of skipping. At first i did fifty skips on my good leg to every one on my bad leg. Slowly i reversed this. Then i started running. After six years i was running five miles every morning. Not bad for a cripple…eh?”
Trevor resumed his fight career in New Zealand, where he beat the New Zealand Lightweight Champion. He returned to Australia for another try at the Autralian Championship. Then he contracted hepatitis. “It took me a year to get over that, then i went went to a sheep station in North Queensland to start training again. There was a second motor accident in which i suffered some head injuries, and i decided to retire.” “Incidently, the one fight in which i was beaten was against Sigi Tennenbaum, an ex European champion, in 1952. This defeat also roused my fighting spirit and made me persevre to become a better fighter. I fought Sigi again later and beat him.”