Posts tagged ‘Japan’

Finding Her Identity

Last week’s result by the Socceroos securing a draw with World Champions Germany n Kaiserslautern was another feather in the cap of national team coach Ange Postecoglou. It was also a wonderful result on the back of the team’s Asian Cup victory.

Despite these successes there is something that Ange Postecoglou has managed to achieve that no other Socceroos coach has achieved, and for that the game should be eternally grateful.

Rale Rasic back in the Seventies awoke the nation with is team of part-timers making it to the World Cup in 1974 being one of just 16 teams that participated in the finals. It was almost a surreal experience according to those who remember it.

Guus Hiddink broke the jinx, and in truth had some luck in seeing the team qualify for Germany in 2006; in a penalty shoot-out the result can go anyway, unless you are playing Germany! Yet when the tournament started he showed his tactical acumen and managed to steer the team past the group stage, and almost past eventual Champions Italy.

Pim Verbeek achieved the remarkable steering the team to the 2010 finals conceding just a single goal against Japan in the final round of qualifying, with a team that was clearly on the wane. His mission was accomplished. He has suffered major criticism for the 4-0 defeat against Germany, yet the same team went on to beat England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 before bowing out to Spain in the semi finals.

No one except the FFA and Holger Osieck will ever know what the total brief was at the time of his appointment. One key factor was another qualification for the World Cup which he achieved. He was criticised for not blooding enough young players, yet he achieved the task that he was set.

What all of these failed to do, that Postecoglou has managed to do in his short time as coach, was play a style of football that taps into the Australian psyche.

In the past week this writer has spoken to three people who confessed they never watched the Socceroos before ‘because they were boring.’ They still admitted they did not watch most of the game but they would tune in because the current team is ‘exciting to watch.’

There is no doubt that the Golden generation featuring the likes of Schwarzer, Viduka, Kewell, Bresciano, Grella, Neill and co, were technically more gifted than many of the current crop of players. There were also more of them playing football at a higher level than most of the current crop. Yet the team never managed to achieve what Postecoglou’s players have achieved.

Postecoglou is without doubt one of the best home grown coaches Australia has produced. Like many of the great coaches an injury curtailing his career – just as happened to Brian Clough – saw him enter management at a very young age. Success in the NSL was a regular achievement. When the A-league started he was coach of the national Youth team, which proved with hindsight to be a great learning experience. Back in club football in the new A-League with Brisbane Roar he again created a team that played attractive football and won championships. When he became national coach many wondered how he would fair and early results were not promising. Yet during those games a pattern was evolving.

A pattern that has seen Australia for the first time have a football team with an identity. By that we mean an identity in terms of the style of football that the national team plays.

Australian football under Frank Arok was again blessed with extremely talented players, many who were still forced to be semi-professional. The team was always combative, the team never ever gave up, but the style frequently changed depending on the opposition or the importance of the match.

It was the late Spurs and Northern Ireland captain Danny Blanchflower who once said “Our tactics have always been to equalize before the other team score.” It may sound crazy but one feels the sentiment is there in this Australian team.

Postecoglou has tapped into the Australian sporting Psyche, that Australians in every sport like to be the aggressor. Look at the Cricket team, the Wallabies, the Kookaburras, all are teams that are immediately on the front foot against their opposition. All of them like to take it up to the opposition and make them know that they are not in awe of them. Previous Socceroos coaches have focussed on trying to limit the scoring opportunities of the opposition and therefore tended to play very defensive football. It appears Postecoglou realises that currently Australia’s defensive stocks are not world class, and therefore the team is bound to concede against quality opposition. However rather than sit back and try and limit the damage, his teams go on the attack. The theory being that Australia will score more than their opponents. It is a style that has resonated with many Australians who have never followed the game, and he may well have finally given the nation a style that becomes synonymous with the Socceroos.

Japan knew they could never compete physically with the bigger European players, so they developed a fast paced game based on speed touch and fitness in order to be competitive and it has paid dividends to their national team and is now a style that is expected from their teams. They focussed on their strengths and improved their weaknesses.

Postecoglou has done exactly the same. He has tapped into Australia’s desire to be the team on the attack and a new style of football has evolved. A style that seems to have captured the public’s imagination. Hopefully is a style that can be maintained, and will just like Japan become synonymous with the Socceroos.

To quote the inspirational Danny Blanchflower again ” The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” It would appear that Postecoglou shares those sentiments.

Blanchflower was a part of a Tottenham team that won the double and also steered Northern Ireland to the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup in the same year he lost his brother Jackie in the Munich Air disaster. Spurs with him in the side played an attractive brand of football, a brand of football where they believed if the opposition scored one, they would score two.

It would appear the Socceroos under Postecoglou have the same sense of belief. It certainly appears that they have found a style that resonates with the people of Australia. Let us hope they continue to win fans over playing football in this manner and like Spurs and Northern Ireland with Blanchflower in their side are rewarded with success. Most of all let this be the style of football for which Australia is known.

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March 30, 2015 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Asia Becoming The End of The Line

Without taking anything away from the Asian Cup, it has yet to resonate with many football fans around the globe the way that the Copa America or even the African Cup of Nations does.

Currently in India for the Hockey India League, there was hardly any coverage of the Asian Cup, only the final was televised. In the newspapers the tournament was lucky to garner a paragraph. Whereas the African Cup of Nations has demanded a third to a quarter page. The English Premier League still dominates the papers while these tournaments are taking place along with La Liga.

One area Asia needs to be very careful is that it does not become the graveyard of footballers past; something it is heading down the path to become.

Many countries in Asia are now going to become trivia questions as to where superstars of the game played their last professional games. William Gallas, Robbie Fowler, Mario Jardel in the A-League and more recently the likes of Robert Pires, David James, David Treziguet and Alessandro del Piero in the Indian Super League. What is interesting is that in India they realised that del Piero was finished after four games, and he played no further part in the tournament, this was coming off a season in Australia with Sydney FC where he was still being lauded as great. Mind you he did pocket another million dollars!

China too is not helping. With lots of money they too are bringing in players who are quite simply past their best. Is it helping the profile of the League? Not really. Is it helping development of the game? Possibly, but it depends how involved these players are with helping develop the youth.

Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai Shenhua was a disaster, even though he did not end his career there. Although interestingly players of his ilk tend not to end up in China, it is the second string internationals rather than the top names. In fact if you look at the Chinese Super League in the main only Guangzhou Evergrande bring in players on the rise and sell them on for a profit. The rest bring in everyday reliable workmanlike footballers, as is evidenced by the Australian players who have gone to play in China; although the clubs in Australia need the money being offered in transfer fees.  The fact that very few of the top South Korean or Japanese players head to China confirms that their leagues are stronger and technically better. Maybe that is why their remain at the top of Asian football.

Will the big name players heading to Qatar and the other West Asian nations help raise the standard of their leagues or their national teams? History would say that is unlikely to be the case. It may help the profile of the league in the short term but not the standard of football.

Asia may be upset that Australia won the Asian Cup, as well as the Asian Champions League, and thus deprived one of their own a place at the Confederations Cup and the World Club Championship, but rather than sniping at Australia, the powers that be should be looking at what is the best way to raise the standard of football in the region, so that there are more teams vying for World Cup berths. More important is that the Asian Cup becomes a genuinely respected international tournament where more than four of five teams are expected to win the title, so that it does generate more international interest and respect.

The start of this may well be to cut back on allowing big name players to come and graze on their fields.

February 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

Wide Of the Mark?

They say that winning changes everything and that would appear to be very much the case with SBS football pundit Craig Foster.

Foster’s heated debate on SBS’s the World Game when current Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou was the national junior coach is one of Australian television’s most famous on air stoushes. In it he was demanding the coach resign following his team’s failure to qualify for the Youth World Cup.

Now in a column on The World Game website following the Socceroos Asian Cup victory he stated “the last year should also put to rest the debate on results, at both senior and youth level. Yes, we love to win, but all our national youth teams are learning to play and the benefits of this will be long lasting. Like the Socceroos, the short-term pain will see long-term gain. Every coach must be accountable for the performances and development of the team, but the fixation on only results should be behind us, thank god.” Talk about a 360 degree turnaround.

Foster then credits the National Curriculum for the success at the Asian Cup. He believes that it was the curriculum that convinced Ange Postecoglou to play a 4-3-3 system. According to Foster, “we just won the Asian Cup with the Curriculum. High pressing, winning ball back as quickly as possible, effective possession of the ball (meaning playing forward where possible), the 1-4-3-3 system of play. It’s all there. Hopefully, arguments are now at an end and we can move on to improving the national plan with everyone on board. There is a massive amount of work to do. Without complete integration from top to bottom, we beat ourselves before we begin.”

The formation had more to do with Ange Postecoglou’s mush talked about “Vision,” the way the coach likes to see the game played and has shown that initially at South Melbourne, then at Brisbane Roar. Postecoglou, was struggling though to find the players capable of playing the way he wanted at international level, and that is what he was learning through all of the friendlies in the past year; although he had many of us worried. In fact if you look at the squad that Postecoglou picked very few of the players in that squad would have had any dealings with the national Curriculum. Of the younger players Luongo was in England playing with Tottenham and was missed by clubs in Australia. Tomi Juric was developing his game in Croatia before coming back to Australia and signing with Adelaide United, while Jason Davidson was in Japan and then Portugal.

A curriculum should exist purely to teach the rudimentary skills such as trapping,passing and heading a ball. Beyond that it will in fact hold Australian football back. Sadly no one wants to look at examples around the world to learn this lesson.

In 1978 Brazil appointed Claudio Coutinho as coach. He was a theorist of football. He was multilingual, and had studied the history and tactics of football. He deliberately tried to copy the Dutch system following their destruction of Brazil at the World Cup in 1974. He soon found out that football is about more than theory in a manual. Brazil ended fourth in the World Cup losing to Poland while Argentina who stuck to their own style and principles lifted the World Cup. In the ’80’s Brazil reverted to their natural style, but focussed on working on their defence.

England are a nation who have not seen success on a football field for close on 50 years. They too are bemoaning the structural coaching system that they adopted, as the system has failed to produce anyone close to the skills of a Glenn Hoddle or Paul Gascoigne. That natural flair and skill has been coached out of players, or if not they have been rejected as having a discipline problem, not doing what the coach has instructed.

The same is happening in Australia and via the National Youth League and NTC systems, “natural” footballers creativity has been crushed. Seriously would we be extolling the performances of Luongo, Juric or Davidson if they had come through the Australian Curriculum?

Mr Foster is playing politics when he says the Curriculum is the reason for Postecoglou and the team’s success. Is he trying to deflect some of the glory from Postecoglou? Maybe, but ultimately all he has done is damage his credibility.

February 4, 2015 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

Searching For That “X” Factor

There is nothing better for a sporting tournament than when the host nation starts the competition well, and Australia have done that in the Asian Cup, winning both their opening games and scoring four goals in each. They are now assured a place in the quarter finals. That is before they play their last group game against their toughest opposition South Korea.

This is where the competition will start to get harder.

Despite this being the third Asian Cup competition that Australia has competed in, to many diehard fans and this writer it is still a competition that is a little underwhelming. However it is a competition Australia needs to be a part of and far better than what was on offer in Oceania.

Why is it hard to get enthusiastic about the competition as a whole? Is it because Asian football is currently going through a bit of slump? Based on last year’s World Cup which was only six months ago Asia had little to get excited about. All the Asian teams failed to progress from the Group stage and all failed to record a win. The coaches of Iran, Japan and South Korea all were sacked or quit; Australia had only just appointed theirs so that was never going to happen. To add to the misery one must also remember that the fifth best team in Asia, Jordan were thrashed by Uruguay in a play-off to get to the finals.

There is an argument that the gulf between those nations who qualified for the World Cup and the rest is what causes the lack of interest in the early stages of the competition. Without taking anything away from Australia’s performances which have been impressive, -although defensively this writer still has concerns – surely the Socceroos would have been expected to see off Oman and Kuwait? The same with South Korea, although they were less convincing than Australia in their victories. Iran were expected to beat Bahrain and Japan to beat tournament debutants Palestine. Iran would be expected to continue winning ways tonight against Qatar and Japan to do the same against Iraq. It is that predictability that makes the group stage hard to get excited about. The real competition comes alive when the Quarter Finals start; although one should never underplay the importance of momentum from the group stage, and Australia currently have that.

One cannot help feeling that the AFC have tried to run before they can walk with this tournament. In that there are too many teams who just aren’t up to a suitable standard. However the argument is that by playing at tournaments such as this one is an incentive to improve, creates interest, and the financial opportunity to improve. It is a very difficult balancing act.

With only sixteen teams competing at the Asian Cup there is little that the AFC can do to create more excitement and interest. They could cut the tournament back to being a ten team tournament, playing in two pools of five with the top two teams in each pool progressing and crossing over. The top teams playing the second placed team in the opposite group. Hockey has used a similar format very successfully. However one has to feel that to reduce the number of teams at the finals would be regressive; All the AFC can, and must do is work with the various associations in the region and try and raise the bar in terms of performances.

Sadly the same is true of the Asian Champions League. The group stages do not generate the interest that they should, as most of the big teams in the stronger leagues in Asia are almost always assured of progressing, because the weaker nations’ Champions are not good enough.

In the Asian Champions League 47 teams compete in the competition, many eliminated prior to the 32 team group stage. Yet those 47 places are not made up of the Champions of each of the 47 member associations of the Asian Football Confederation. Australia for example has three teams in that 47 when its league only has ten teams; nine in truth as Wellington Phoenix are part of Oceania and no one is sure if they would be allowed to participate should they qualify.

Surely the AFC would be better served to make this tournament one purely just for the Champions at this stage in its development? Have two tiers of competition. The lesser league’s Champions play off to win a second tier competition and that in turn wins them a place in the “main event,” the Asian Champions League.

Something has to be done to try and stimulate these two major tournaments in the region. Many will claim that they are both young competitions and will take time to get into the psyche of fans, but this is simply not true. The Asian Champions League – although it was called the Asian Champion Club Tournament in a previous life started in 1967. It folded in 1971 due to a lack of professionalism and was restarted again in 1985/86 as the Asian Club Championship, and in 2002 became the Asian Champions League. It has been around for a while in different guises and formats, but has it still not managed to capture the public’s full attention?

The Asian Cup commenced in 1956. It has been going for over 50 years, but even within Asia you can ask people which nation won which tournament an in what year and will struggle to find someone who knows. It should come as no surprise that in 15 tournaments Japan has won four, Saudi Arabia and Iran three each and South Korea two. Three of last year’s World Cup qualifiers have won nine of the 15 tournaments. Only Israel – who no longer compete under AFC – Iraq and Kuwait have been other nations to win the cup.

Iraq won in 2007, but you have to go back to 1980 to find another country outside of the four main winners to have lifted the cup. Which many may claim means that development is the issue. Yet is it?

In Europe, with their UEFA European Championship the dominance is similar, where Germany and Spain have been victorious on three occasions each and France twice. Their competition is four years younger than the Asian Cup, so there have only been 14 tournaments and eight have been won by three nations. However the remaining six competitions have been won by six different nations. Yet like Asia, Greece won in 2004 and one has to go back to 1992 to see a nation outside of France, Spain or Germany lifting the cup; Denmark being the victors that year.

So maybe it is nothing to do with development, maybe it is the way of the footballing world. However one cannot help feeling that the Asian Cup is still lacking something to capture the imagination and pull everyone in. The question is what is that something?

January 14, 2015 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Kick Off For the ISL Moments Away…

First the was the IPL then the was the HIL and from tomorrow there will be the ISL. What is the ISL? It is the Indian Super League, a brand new football competition aimed at restoring the game into the consciousness of the people of India. A game that has slipped further and further behind ever since the national team flew home without playing a game at the 1958 World Cup because FIFA stipulated that they must wear boots and could not plain bandaged feet as they had done to qualify.

There had been debate at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne as to whether the Indian players should be shod, but FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous left the decision up to them. Interestingly they opted to wear boots! The dispatched Australia 4-2 in the Quarter Finals, with Neville de Souza becoming the first Asian player to score a hat-trick at the Olympics. They lost their semi final match to Yugoslavia and the bronze medal match to Bulgaria.

India is tryng to rev up interest in the game and also unearth players to match those from the fifties as in 2017 they will host the FIFA Under 17 World Cup.

There will be plenty of razzmatazz to start the Indian Super League but many will be looking on with great interest to see what the standard of football is like.

The timing of the league is not the best coming so soon after the start of all of the European competitions and at a time when these clubs are grabbing most of the headlines.

The plan is a simple one, and one that has been used in the North American Soccer League and MLS in the 70s and 90s, as well as Japan’s J-League in the 90s and more recently Australia’s A-League. Bring in mature international players to pass on their skills, experience and attitude to a pool of talented local players, in the hope that it will prepare them to make the next step up at international level.

As with the aforementioned leagues the clubs’ will all have “marquee signings.” The players signed up for the ISL reads like a who’s who of football. The only trouble is its a who’s who from at least a decade ago. The list includes former superstars such as Luis García (Atlético de Kolkata), David Trezeguet (FC Pune City), Robert Pires (FC Goa), Fredrik Ljungberg (Mumbai City FC),  and David James (Kerala Blasters). James at least only stopped playing in 2013, aged 43. Garcia who ended his career in Mexico retired at the start of the year aged 35, Alessandro Del Piero was strolling around the A-League in 2014, and David Trezeguet was in Argentina, so they were all at least still playing. Pires retired in 2011, Ljungberg in 2012, and one wonders how they will fare. The best of the “old boys” looks to be Brazilian Elano who was playing for Gremio and is the youngest recruit at 33.

The managers too are some blasts from the past and include Zico at Goa , Peter Reid at Mumbai and Ricki Herbert at North East United.  Italian world cup winner Marco Matterazzi will be making his debut as a senior coach as will David James although the latter has coached at IBV in Iceland and at Luton Town. It will be interesting to see how the old wise heads fare against the new young turks.

Millions have been invested in these big names as well as in the league itself. There is no doubting that the sheer volume of people in India means there is a massive potential television audience as well as a huge pool of potential players. However are India making the same mistake as other nations, putting the cart before the horse. There is no doubt the passion for football is there,and especially amongst the younger generation. However this will not guarantee India a superstar or success. The sad facts are that if you have talent as a cricketer or hockey player you are far more likely to be spotted and then given access to better coaching.

The All India Football Federation are hoping that the ISL will be a huge success and fans will flock to the games. They are also hoping that it will turn a drip into a flood of young players wanting to play the game. Hopefully that will be the case, and hopefully the League will survive long enough for those inspired young players to have the chance to grace the ISL stage. Let us hope that the ageing stars do in fact attract people to the game and earn the large sums of money they are receiving to promote football. If they don’t it may have proved one Super League concept too many for India.

Watch this space…

October 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm Leave a comment

A Good or a Bad Time to Return?

What motivates an athlete in todays sporting world? Is it money? To earn enough that he will be set up for life? Is it success in the sport that they play? To play at the highest level possible and pit their wits against the best, to know exactly how good they really were when they reflect back on heir career? Is it all about winning trophies? To be honest each individual is different, so there is no definitive answer.

Australian striker Nikita Rukavystya is no doubt asking himself many of those questions at this very time, as he ways up a possible return to Australia from a career in Europe, and then whether he opts for Western Sydney Wanderers or the club he left in his hometown Perth, Perth Glory.

In the back of Rukavystya’s mind will be the fact that he was overlooked for the squad that new Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou took to the World Cup in Brazil. To many this was a baffling decision as Rukavystya’s blistering pace late in a game when defenders are tired is always likely to earn a penalty or see him outstrip a defence and possibly score. Did the two fall out after the Western Australian made himself unavailable for a camp? Opting to play in Australia and scoring regularly would put him under the nose of Postecoglou and make it hard for the coach not to select him.

Yet a return to Australia would bring to an end Rukavystya’s European dream at a time when he should be at his peak aged 27.

It is interesting to compare Rukavystya’s career path with that of his former Australian Institute of Sport colleague Nathan Burns who opted to return to the A-league in 2013-14 on loan to Newcastle Jets. Burns is a year younger than Rukavystya at 26.

Both attended the AIS in 2006. Burns joined Adelaide United after his one year in Canberra while Rukavystya joined Perth Glory after his two years in the nation’s capital. Both spent two seasons with their A-League clubs, Burns played 35 games and scored 9 goals, Rukavystya played 42 and scored 16; The latter was an out and out striker, whereas Burns was often used wide or as a second striker.

Burns moved to AEK Athens on a four year deal Rukavystya went to FC Twente. Both players were loaned out to other clubs, Rukavystaya was eventually sold to Bundesliga 2 side Hertha Berlin while Burns contract was terminated, and he headed to South Korea and signed for Incheon United. Rukavystya was a regular starter at Herha and helped steer them back to the German top flight, yet right on the transfer deadline he switched clubs and joined Mainz. He has struggled there and spent a season on loan to Frankfurt back in Bundesliga 2. Burns struggled at Incheon and was loaned to A-League club Newcastle Jets and has now signed permanently with Wellington Phoenix.

Both of these players were selected for the AIS because they were stand out players in their age groups around the country. Both were destined for higher things, yet some may say have not quite managed to fulfil their potential. Was this bad management, in the choice of clubs they signed for? Were they sent to top flight clubs too soon? Did the AIS prepare them adequately for a career in top flight football?

Both of these players at 26 and 27 should be at the peak of the playing powers. Yet instead of playing their football amongst the best in Europe, there is a chance that both could be back in Australia playing. As much as many will say it is great that some of our most talented players are back in Australia playing it is very sad that they are. They shouldn’t be here. We should not want them back here playing at 26, 27 28 years of age. This is when we need them playing at the highest level so that our national team benefits from that experience, and the standard at which they are used to playing.

Burns had moments last year where you saw the player that excited as a youngster at Adelaide, but in the main he looked a shadow of that talent. This year under Ernie Merrick expect him to be revitalised.

It will be hard for Rukavystya if he comes back to Australia. There will be huge expectations attached to his performance, and inside there would no doubt be huge disappointment that realistically he is unlikely to ever play in Europe again. His best option if he wanted another move overseas would be Asia, but unless you are playing in Japan or possibly Korea, it is again a questionable move and one that is usually made purely for a retirement plan.

One cannot help feeling that if his management was more careful and thought about which team would best suited his skills and temperament, he could still carve out a successful career in Europe; yet some agents will always opt for the easy option, which is a return home and security in a regular game and good money.

Many will celebrate if Rukavystya returns, yet there are those of us who will be very sad to see it happen. He showed the year Hertha Berlin won promotion back the Bundesliga that he can play, and hold down a regular place in a side. He was second highest in the league with assists that season. He should be at the peak of his playing powers, and therefore he should be playing at the highest level possible. Whatever anyone says the A-League is a big drop from the level he can and should still be playing at.

The final hard decision will be his. How he reaches that decisions only he will know but ultimately it may all come back to that key question, what motivates a player?

October 7, 2014 at 11:03 am 7 comments

Support the Memory to A Champion

Two weeks ago we featured boxing fan Gary Luscombe on the show talking about the Johnny Famechon Statue Project, and it was pleasing to hear that following that interview Western Australian’s contacted Gary to support the project.

As Gary mentioned on the show it was decided at the unveiling of a Statue to Lionel Rose that a pledge was made to erect one in honour of Johnny Famechon in his hometown of Frankston in Victoria.

Famechon was born in France in 1945, and moved to Frankston in 1970 and has since called the bayside suburb home. He is still actively involved with the local community, including helping police run the Frankston Blue Light Boxing Club for young people.

He became WBC Featherweight World Champion on January 21, 1969 after he defeated Cuban, Jose Legra on points at the Albert Hall in London. He then defended his crown against Fighting Harada of Japan, defeating his famous rival again six months later. He retired with a career record of 56 wins (20 by KO), 6 draws and 5 losses, and was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 1997.

Sadly John Famechon was never able to enjoy the rewards of his career to the full as while in Sydney supporting Lionel Rose at the former Bantamweight champion’s book launch, he decided to have a workout and run back to his hotel. It was 4.30 pm on August 24th, 1991, and while crossing the road John was struck by a car and almost lost his life. He was in a coma for a week, doctors said that had he not been as fit as he was he may well have died. John is now partly paralysed down his left side, and his speech is impaired. He was told that he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but being the fighter that he is, he has again shown the courage and determination that made him a World Champion and he has defied the odds and is now able to get around with only the help a walking frame.

The project to erect a statue in honour of this great fighter had stalled and that was when Gary Luscombe came on board. There project still needs to raise funds to ensure the stature is completed and the goal is to reach the target by the end of 2015. As soon as the money comes in it is passed straight to the sculptor and another phase is completed.

Fans of boxing can by one of Johnny’s fights which will be recorded on the plinth of the statue for $1000 and memorabilia to raise funds is also available (Click here) all proceeds going to the fund to complete the statue.

When completed this will be only the third statue in honour of a boxer in Australia with the other being erected in memory of Les Darcy. TO stay up to date with the project and Gary’s great work like the Facebook page here.

October 7, 2014 at 8:44 am Leave a comment

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