Tomorrow marks a significant milestone in the career of Bairnsdale boxing product, Mick Croucher.
It is the 60th anniversary of his active involvement in the sport.
Croucher admits that he had no idea that when he stepped through the ropes at the age of 14 on that warm 1961 November night in Orbost, that the sport of boxing was going to become central to his being for the next 60 years.
That night he took out a points win over local, Max Martin, in a three-round bout.
Mick still has the trophy he won that night in his trophy cabinet.
Another thing he recalls about that evening was trainer Joe Machen asked Mick “what do you want to be announced as when the ring announcer introduces you -Lindsay (his Christian name) or Mick (his nickname since the age of five)”.
“Lindsay didn’t seem right for a boxers name, so I said ‘Mick’, and of course the rest is history,” Mick said.
Growing up as a baby boomer in post World War II, Mick is eternally grateful for the influence of the local police boys’ clubs who played a major role in putting many Aussie kids on the right path in life across Australia.
“Life in country Victoria after the war was tough for everyone as no one had much,” Mick said.
He still remembers walking down Ligar Street in Bairnsdale to the Army Drill Hall with his gym mates Neil Reynolds, Russell Heathcote, Peter Rowe, Brendon Antonie, Brian Capes, Ross Hale and others.
There they were taught the basic fundamentals of boxing by their trainers, local policeman, Joe Machen, and bike shop owner, Len Marriot.
Both trainers would take the boxers to local towns in East Gippsland to compete. The boys were taught well which lead them to win many East Gippsland and Victorian titles.
This is why today, Mick, as the president of the World Boxing Foundation, the sixth biggest boxing sanctioning body in the world, has constantly supported and sponsored the youth clubs.
Mick was an amateur boxer for three years in which he had 30 fights, winning the majority of them and also picking up East Gippsland and Victorian titles along the way.
Afterwards Mick decided to compete as a professional boxer where he joined the famous Marco Polo Street in Essendon under the guidance of legendary trainer, Jack Rennie.
“This gym was selected because a good friend from Gippsland had started training there 12 months prior,” Mick said.
That good friend was future world champion, Lionel Rose MBE.
Mick and Lionel sparred many rounds together, including helping Lionel with his win over Japan’s Fighting Harada.
Mick was supposed to fight on the Lionel Rose v Fighting Harada undercard in Japan, but a twisted ankle in training prevented him from going.
Mick was Lionel’s main sparring partner for three years and this experience and expertise he learnt from Jack Rennie has served him well with his knowledge on training throughout his 60 years in boxing.
After six years in boxing, three as an amateur and three as a pro, Mick retired and returned to Bairnsdale and decided to join an American offshore company, Ingram Contractors to work in the oil fields in the Bass Strait.
It also enabled him to travel the world and work in China, Mexico, Malaysia, Gulf of Mexico, South East Asia and other destinations.
The Croucher family’s history in boxing predates the Federation of Australia as an independent nation, originating from the English port city of Southampton.
Mick’s grandfather, Harry, started the family boxing dynasty in 1892 with his three sons, Harry Jr, Albert, and Mick’s father, Dan.
Mick was also followed by his son, Nathan, who won three Victorian and three Australian amateur titles. Nathan finished with a record of 38 wins from 41 bouts.
The Croucher boxing dynasty is now in the Guinness Book of Records for longest sporting dynasty -1892 to 2021 -a total of 129 years in boxing.
The Croucher family moved to Melbourne in 1998 so their two daughters could attend Melbourne University.
This gave Mick the opportunity to join the boxing administration in the city, which he always wanted to do.
Living in Glen Waverley with his family he soon joined up with former trainer, Jack Rennie, who was the coordinator for the American owned World Boxing Foundation. After six months of working fights with Jack and getting a good knowledge of the fight sanctioning game, Jack was ready to retire and the American owner, Ron Scalf, in his own words, was ready to pass the baton.
In 2004, Mick along with his daughter, Bridie-Maree, and life-long boxing colleague and former fighter, Clive Robertson flew, to Johnson City, Tennesse, USA and signed the contract to purchase the World Boxing Foundation.
Mick said it was the best deal he has ever done as the WBF has climbed to be the sixth ranked sanctioning body in the world.
It enabled him to travel the world in excess of 50 times and he said this success has come through the hard working WBF International coordinators and vice president and sanction chairman from Tamworth, New South Wales, Paul Saunders.
“He has done an excellent job in coordinating and sanctioning all the WBF title bouts globally,” Mick said.
Mick said his world appointments still keep coming in as he is now the vice president of the Iran Boxing Federation as well as their international boxing consultant. He said duties are to bring their boxers out onto the world scene as Iran has been hampered by trade and other restrictions over the past few years.
Mick is now in discussions with the Nepal Boxing Commission to assist in getting their boxers international matching, with India also included in the WBF global strategy to promote bouts.
Mick has also supervised 55 international championship bouts across the world, and helped form boxing commissions in Kenya, Fiji, Nepal and China.
Mick is also the long-serving Victorian president of the Australian National Boxing Federation, an organization of which he is still a member and enjoys very much.
Mick said he is very proud of his time in boxing as it has been very good to him.
“There has been a lot of hard work to get the WBF to the world position it is today, but it has been all worthwhile as it is the WBF’s intention to give all worthy young fighters the opportunity to have a title belt hanging in their house,” he said.