Lethal right hook made Sid Godfrey a champ

Name Sid Godfrey
Place Of Birth Raglan NSW
Date Of Birth 20 August 1897
Date Deceased 1965
Height 5’ 7”
Weight 9st 8lb
Divisions Featherweight, Lightweight
Titles Featherweight, Lightweight
Record won 52 (KO 27) + lost 15 (KO 4) + drawn 10

Fights At Stadium
Patsy Brannigan pts 20 Sid Godfrey 04 Nov 1916
Sid Godfrey ko 17 Patsy Brannigan 25 Nov 1916
Jimmy Hill pts 20 Sid Godfrey 01 Jan 1917
Sid Godfrey ko 11 Frank Thorn 07 May 1917
Tommy Ryan pts 20 Sid Godfrey 21 May 1917
Sid Godfrey ko 15 Wave Geike 21 Jul 1917
Vince Blackburn pts 20 Sid Godfrey 18 Aug 1917
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Vince Blackburn 27 Oct 1917
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Vince Blackburn 27 Oct 1917
Sid Godfrey drew 20 Vince Blackburn 12 Jan 1918
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Sam Saunders 25 Jan 1919
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Harry Holmes 14 Feb 1920
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Harry Holmes 06 Mar 1920
Sid Godfrey ko 2 Digger Evans 20 Mar 1920
Jackie Green pts 20 Sid Godfrey 05 Apr 1920
Sid Godfrey ko 8 Rug Macario 29 May 1920
Sid Godfrey wf 7 Joe Symonds 17 Jul 1920
Jimmy Hill drew 20 Sid Godfrey 04 Sep 1920
Sid Godfrey wf 8 Silvano Jamito 02 Oct 1920
Sid Godfrey ko 9 Arthur Wynns 26 Dec 1920
Eugene Criqui ko 10 Sid Godfrey 05 Feb 1921
Sid Godfrey wf 15 Francisco Flores 26 Mar 1921
Llew Edwards pts 20 Sid Godfrey 02 Apr 1921
Sid Godfrey ko 17 Cabanella Dencio 14 May 1921
Sid Godfrey ko 2 Leo Patterson 25 Jun 1921
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Llew Edwards 23 Jul 1921
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Harry Stone 20 Aug 1921
Sid Godfrey ko 9 Pat Mills 15 Oct 1921
Sid Godfrey wf 17 Tommy O'Brien 29 Oct 1921
Sid Godfrey drew 20 Bert Spargo 04 Feb 1922
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Billy McCann 18 Mar 1922
Sid Godfrey drew 20 Bert Spargo 15 Apr 1922
Sid Godfrey ko 5 Tommy Cello 08 Jul 1922
Hughie Dwyer pts 20 Sid Godfrey 14 Oct 1922
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Harry Collins 17 Feb 1923
Sid Godfrey pts 20 George Eagel 24 Mar 1923
Sid Godfrey ko 20 Archie Bradley 26 May 1923
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Luis Plees 22 Dec 1923
Sid Godfrey pts 20 Bert Spargo 26 Jan 1924
Sid Godfrey ko 12 Eddie Butcher 29 Mar 1924
Sid Godfrey drew 20 Archie Bradley 12 Apr 1924
Sid Godfrey drew 20 Billy Grime 10 May 1924
Harry Collins ko 10 Sid Godfrey 11 Apr 1925

Random Jottings

· Won featherweight title from Vince Blackburn 1915

· Won Lightweight title from Harry Stone in 1921

· Fought epic fight with Eugene Criqui

The following article was published in The Daily Mirror Saturday June 1, 1957


FIFTEEN thousand avid boxing fans thronged to Sydney Stadium on the night of February 5, 1921, to cheer on local idol Sid Godfrey against the devastating French importation, Eugene Criqui. Already the visitor had humbled the cream of Australia’s boxing talent. Tough, hard hitting Godfrey was almost the only possibility left to defend the national ring honor. He did his best, and for six rounds gave Criqui a boxing lesson. Then his strength began to wane from the
drastic weight reduction the French camp had cagily insisted on. The hushed crowd saw the gallant Australian made a chopping block. Finally in the tenth he took the count - but was far from disgraced. The man who beat him went on to win a world title.

Veteran of some 125 fights, Sid Godfrey won all but a bare dozen or so. At different times he won both the Australian featherweight and light weight titles.

One of the greatest draw cards in the history of the Australian ring, he earned £20,000 in eight years of boxing when the pound was really a pound.

He fought 25 importation’s, many of them world rated stars, and for aggression, crowd pleasing fighting spirit and power laden punching took second place to none.

Generally considered in the first three Australian lightweights of all time, Sid Godfrey and his famous lethal right hand punch carved themselves a permanent place in our ring history and in the hearts of thousands of fans.

Sid Godfrey was born on his parents’ farm at Raglan, near Bathurst, on August 20 1897. His father was interested in boxing and fitted up a ring in one of the barns.

There from the age of 12, young Sid took on youngsters for miles round. Two years later he moved to Sydney in search of amateur honors.

Settled at Auburn, he went to work for a blacksmith at 5 shillings a week and began entering amateur tournaments then popular around the suburbs.

In One of these affairs at Merrylands, Godfrey won every fight except one by a knockout - sometimes vanquishing four opponents in one night.

When he got a rise in wages, he was able to afford 2/6 for a weekly lesson from old time lightweight champion Jim Barron.

A star of the boxing “Golden Age” in the 1890’s, whose proudest record was a twenty round draw with Young Griffo, Barron conducted boxing classes at St. Benedict’s School in Abercombie Street, Redfern.

While sparring there one evening in 1916, Sid Godfrey impressed Snowy Baker who was then promoting at Sydney Stadium.

As a result he turned professional. He won his first bout against Luke Wright by a knockout in six rounds and was soon battering his way through the grueling twenty rounders then common.
Work at the smithy had developed a strong right arm. Young Godfrey won a following among Stadium regulars as he dispatched most of his opponents with a right hook.

In his second year as a professional Godfrey collected the Australian featherweight tile from Vince Blackburn.

He held it for three years until beaten by Jackie Green in 1920.

One of Godfrey’s 1917 victories was in Melbourne over Jack Jannesse when because of the widespread strike that year purses were very poor.

Each boxer received only £10. Godfrey had to pay his return fare from Sydney out of that, but he was still probably better off than Jannesse.

For 16 rounds the Melbourne boy took a fearful hiding before he finally collapsed and was counted out.

Godfrey had no wish to punish his opponent unnecessarily - particularly for a mere £10. From the bell he sailed into action to end it quickly.

Jannesse was soon punched into a semi-coma as Godfrey’s wicked right kept toppling him to the canvas.

Each time, however, he dazedly climbed back to his feet and walked up to continue the battle.
Godfrey’s face blanched at the prospect of further belting into the almost helpless Victorian.
“Go down Jack,” he hissed. “You don’t want to get killed for a tenner do you?”
Jannesse took no notice. Godfrey winced with each punch and pleaded with him to stop taking the sickening punishment.

His words seemed to fall on deaf ears. The beating up continued round after round.
In the 16th, Godfrey pushed his opponent as he seemed to fall forward into a clinch. Jannesse toppled over and lay still.

He was counted out and the fight was over. Godfrey shrugged. Next day he questioned his opponent.

“Why did you take such a hiding Jack?” he asked. “That was worth more than a tenner. You should have gone down as I told you.”

Jannesse grinned and explained: “I didn’t hear you Sid. I don’t remember a thing after the second round - I must have been out on my feet.”

Godfrey was climbing rapidly in Australian boxing. In 1918 he had 18 fights and was beaten only twice .

The following year, unable to get enough fights at home to keep him busy, he tried his luck in the Philippines.

At Manila, lonely and homesick, he met the whirlwind Cabanella Dencio, and suffered one of the few knockouts of his career - in the first round.

Godfrey proved his Manila form was all wrong when the Filipino arrived in Australia in 1921. He evened the score with a ko win in the 17th.

By 1920, Godfrey had proved himself in international class with victories over visiting overseas stars.

His victims included the clever English featherweight Joe Symonds (one of the cagiest boxers ever to visit Australia), the highly rated Arthur Wyns (featherweight champion of Europe_ and the rugged Filipino Salvino Jamito.

Symonds gave Godfrey a torrid time with one of the most vicious exhibitions of foul fighting ever seen at Sydney Stadium .

He specialized in a backward blow known as a “Shamrock.” Designed to injure an opponents face, it utilized the back of the wrist and the elbow.

Symonds made it doubly effective with a special corkscrew action and took heavy toll of Godfrey’s features in the early rounds.

Godfrey gave back better he got. Four times his hurricane right put Symonds down, starting in the first round.

By the third the Englishman had been knocked down twice. Godfrey’s heavier punching had him staggering.

He retaliated with his shamrock, illegally tearing Godfrey’s mouth with a swipe of his wrist.
Referee Joe Wallis warned him. Godfrey came bounding in with his own chastisement.

His right shot out in a bone jolting blow to Symond’s jaw. The Englishman was bowled over like a rabbit.

The Stadium crowd was roaring with excitement and let go a cheer as the plucky little pug from Plymouth hauled himself to his feet at the count of eight.

Again Godfrey let go his right hand wallop and Symonds was on the floor once more. He was up at nine, when the bell saved him from a certain finisher Godfrey was winding up.

In the fourth Symonds surprisingly emerged with new strength. That round and the next he took the offensive, cruelly flailing the Australian’s injured mouth with blatant shamrocks whenever he got close.

Referee Joe Wallis warned him repeatedly, but was somehow impressed with the wily Englishman’s repeated apologies and smiling protestations that he would not offend again.
Godfrey’s punching was getting wilder and less accurate as his temper rose. In the seventh he unleashed a furious assault to end it quickly.

Symonds clinched. The crowd booed angrily as he fouled Godfrey again and again with shamrocks.

There was no alternative for the referee but to disqualify him and crown Godfrey winner on a foul.

Godfrey’s fight with the Belgian star Arthur Wyns on December 26th , 1920, definitely proved he was in world class. Wyns had a win over Criqui in his record as well as the European title in his pocket.

The Stadium, as usual for Godfrey’s bouts was packed. He was a sensational puncher and crowds invariably turned up for the thrilling action that was always a feature of his bouts.

They were not disappointed with his affray with Wyns. Both men forced the fight from the opening bell, trading punch for punch, round after round.

Each man launched regular, vicious two fisted offensives and the fortunes see-sawed. Each flurry of blows resulted only in rousing his opponent to step up his own attack.

By the ninth, the more experienced Wyns was considered to be in front on points. Godfrey gambled on a knockout blow and took dire punishment to maneuver the Belgian into his sights.
He retreated. The tough Wyns followed, his arms pounding like pistons into Godfrey’s body.

Pinned on the ropes, the Australian was obvisouly wilting under the hurricane barrage.
To the crowd it seemed only seconds before Godfrey must go down and Wyns win by a knockout. They underestimated their own idol.

Godfrey took all Wyns could deliver. He was coolly waiting for the break that was inevitable sooner or later in his opponents onslaught.

It came. Wyns nearly exhausted stepped back. Momentarily he dropped his arms.
With the speed of a rapier thrust, Godfrey’s deadly right came over. Straight as a bullet it sped to the target and landed flush on Wyns temple.

Godfrey’s swarms of supporters cheered him to the echo. Standing on their seats to get a better view, they yelled derisively at Wyns as he made a forlorn
attempt to rise before Joe Wallis counted him out.

Then a lightweight , Godfrey had already paid the penalty of drastic weight reduction when he lost his featherweight title to Jackie Green in 1920.

He made the same mistake against Frenchman Eugene Criqui whose manager insisted he make 9 stone.

Forced to take 12 lb of quickly, he had almost nothing to eat or drink for the last couple of days before the fight.

He left himself a weakened shell of the great fighter he was. Only his iron will to win kept him going until the inevitable defeat in the 10th round.

Godfrey was satisfied with the then enormous purse of £780, and tried to lure Criqui into a return at a 9 st 5 lb limit.

The Frenchman politely, but firmly declined and went back to Europe, where he defeated Johnny Kilbane for the world featherweight title.

For all his torrid encounters with imported boxers, Godfrey’s hardest opponent was probably the rough and rugged Queenslander Archie Bradley known variously as the “Gympie Tiger,” “man-eater,” and “Killer.”

They first met at Brisbane in 1921. Bradley brought into play almost every illegal trick in boxing.
He fought like a ferocious wild bull and the locals loved for it. He belted into Godfrey whenever he stepped back after being ordered to break.

Several times he threw Godfrey out of the ring and rocked him with savage punches as he climbed back.

Bradley did everything but bite. After 20 rounds of what Godfrey called the “Marquess of Queensland Rules,” Bradley got the decision.

Two years later after Godfrey had won the lightweight title championship from “Hop” Harry Stone, Archie Bradley arrived in Sydney with a challenge.

Godfrey k.o.’d him in the 20th, but always said “The Gympie Tiger” was his hardest opponent. It was the first time Bradley had ever been knocked off his feet.

In 1923 Hughie Dwyer - a more brilliant boxer but without Godfrey’s punching power - won the lightweight title from him on points with clever tactics and generalship.

Godfrey was well fixed financially and considering retirement. He owned a city hotel and business was his first concern.

His ring appearances became fewer in 1924. He beat Bert Spargo and Eddie Butcher, drew with Billy Grime and then virtually retired.

A year passed. Godfrey’s weight climbed to 11 stone. A promoter then offered him £850 to fight the sensational Harry Collins for the welterweight title.

The money lured Godfrey back. He threw himself into strenuous training. But when he climbed into the ring on April 11th, 1925, he was still slow and flabby and not a shadow of the former lightweight tornado.

Collins outweighed him and he had run out of gas by the eighth round.

His last desperate throw was a famous Godfrey right which caught Collins flush on the chin in the ninth, but the big welter was able to hang on and finish the round.

In the 10th Sid Godfrey was himself knocked out. One of the greatest Australian boxing careers was finished.

Godfrey returned to the hotel business, in which he continues to this day.
Of his tough boxing years he know says: “I wouldn’t like to go through them again.”

The Following Article By W.F. CORBETT Was Published In The Sun October 28, 1944

Memories of weight making Sid Godfrey, ex lightweight champion of Australia are like the sweating horror of a child waking from a bad dream. Reducing to the featherweight limit of 9 stone to fight grim, slashing Frenchman Eugene Criqui in 1921, was an agony of body and soul.

Sid with his characteristic long rolling stride and still fairly trim figure is today proprietor of “The Horse and Jockey Hotel” in Parramatta Road, Homebush.

“ I tremble to think of the torment I went through making my weight. I was as tall as I was now (5’ 7”) and to fight Criqui I was under the feather limit.”

Criqui with savage, merciless attacks, stopped the weakened Godfrey in the tenth round before a mass of people, many of whom burst in through the Stadium’s main doors and avalanched down the aisle to ringside.

“My fight prior to Criqui was with Arthur Wynns, whom I had in 10. I weighed 9st 5lb and 9st 12lb when I commenced to train for the Criqui fight. Ultimately I got down to 9st 5lb but discovered that though I would reduce 2lbs, I would put 1lb back on again. Even so, I went down to 9st 4lb and 9st 3lb. At this stage I would lose 1lb and build up 2. I couldn’t raise a perspiration, and in the sweat box the bulbs were burning me. I decided the only chance I had to make the weight was not to eat at all. All I eat for 2½ days wouldn’t amount to one square meal.

Then at 7:30 on the night of the fight I weighed in at 8st 13¾. Immediately after I drank a pint of milk and eggs. It was one of the worst things I could have done. Not as long as I live, will I forget that ordeal, it was a killer.”

Now he plays golf. He weighed 13 stone when he first started playing, but is now little more than 11 stone.

The cleverest men he fought he says was Jimmy Hill and Jackie Green and the hardest hitter American Tommy O’ Brien, who introduced the old soup basin haircut which was so fashionable among young bloods at the time. He rates Archie Bradley the toughest. He is convinced Vince Blackburn would have won the world bantamweight title if he would have gone after it when he was at his best.

In 1919 he announced his retirement. Jack Munro met him by chance and suggested he make a comeback at the Hippodrome. He replied that he would never be a draw card. Munro persuaded him. He had another 35 fights netting £7000 in 5 years, making £15000 for Stadiums Ltd.

The following is an unfinished article from scrapbook 33 of the Bert Cox Collection. It is written by Bill Lawless (“Solar Plexus”) and parts may be inaccurate.

If it could be claimed that Sid Godfrey was the equal in ability to such previous lightweight champions as Keys, Mehegan, McCoy, Dwyer, Llew Edwards, Jack Hall, he could console himself with the fact that he was such a better drawcard than those mentioned, that in one or two contests alone, he earned more than did some of the other top liners in the whole course of their careers.

Another strange feature concerning this worthy fellow is the fact that at one point of his career, he was so sick and tired of boxing for next to nothing, that at one point he seriously considered giving up. However he didn’t and eventually made sufficient money to invest wisely in the hotel business.

He began boxing in amateur tournaments in Granville in 1914, in which he failed to win any honors. The first published account of his career was early in 1915 at an amateur tournament in Auburn, where he won the final of the featherweight competition . A little while later he won a similar tournament, but also won the lightweight final.

In 1916 he began his professional career with a six round knock out of a promising and hard hitting youth called Luke Wright. He then figured in twelve bouts, winning six by knock out.

Early in 1917, he was well beaten by brilliant former featherweight Jimmy Hill who scaled 9st 6½lb. In Feb 1917 he as ko’d in 14 by Bert Spargo. After a defeat against Wave Geike (whom he had previously beaten) he ko’d Frank Thorn twice, then knocked out Wave Geike in 15. Returning to Sydney he cleverly outpointed Tommy Ryan.

He tried to win the featherweight crown from Vince Blackburn, but lost on points. However, in October 1917, he won the title in a questionable points decision over Blackburn.

In 1917, he fought an Aboriginal featherweight, Sandy McVea, who took a terrible battering for 11 rounds. The referee should have stopped the fight around the sixth round, or failing that his corner should have thrown in the towel. However, it was rumored that a certain individual had bet that McVea would last ten rounds.

In 1918, he had another fight with Blackburn and although he was declared the winner on points, he lost the featherweight title because he was overweight.

From then until the end of 1918, he was beaten on points by Jimmy Hill and Llew Edwards and was extremely lucky in having a drawn decision with Blackburn, for in the 8th round he accidentally sent a right below the belt and the contest was stopped by police.

In 1919 he beat Bob Williams at Sydney Stadium on a TKO in 20 rounds for the lightweight championship of NSW. He then went to Manila He was a sick man. He fought a draw with Flores, but was ko’d in one round by Dencio. He returned to Australia and defeated Eugene Volaire in Brisbane.

It was about this time that he sincerely thought about quitting. But the wheel of fortune turned his way by a stream of French, English and Filipino boxers.

Copyright Mike Hitchen, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved