The doyen of Australian turf writing and commentary , Max Presnell , has a book called Good Losers Die Broke ready to sprint out of the starting box next month .
By Peter Simon
Max and this scribe were cadet reporters on the newspaper , The Sun , Sydney, back in the l950s. The paper, sadly, ended up in the media knackery . His father ran the popular , very busy Doncaster Hotel , "a short stroll to " the Randwick Racecourse , where some of the leading showmen who fielded at the Royal Easter Show were "stabled " . Young Max was given free tickets to attend sideshows, including boxing .
In a recent exchange of emails between us we reminisced ; he well remembered the colourful Chinese boxing identity Rud Key , " a top fighter ", from the North Queensland mining town of Ravenswood , who sold tickets at the entrance to the Sharman Boxing Troupe tent , mentioned in this blog . Max said he had seen a photograph of Rud in a book a long time ago ... the hunt is on .
In his inimitable style , Max recalled a tense episode in London involving gentlemen of the press , including Kiwi reporter Les (Slasher, also Thrasher ) Wilson , now residing in Queensland , known for going the knuckle in various locations, including Darwin, where he occasionally saved the Northern Territory News edior , Jim Bowditch , from a pub scrap, one memorable thumping partly over poor baby turtles being bombed by the heartless RAAF on Quail Island which resulted in an Irishman hitting the deck at the rear of the Victoria Hotel .
PRESNELL'S DENTAL TROUBLE
We were having a drink at the Kangaroo Paddock in London around 1962 with Russell McPhedran (photographer) and Peter Curtain (formerly Melbourne Herald) when a huge Aussie dentist who could have packed down for South Sydney took exception to Slasher because a girl in his party was paying too much attention to him. Frothing at the mouth, the dentist, who had five mates of the same size and temperament, had to be subdued by the staff.
The manager, Kenneth J. Warren, an Aussie actor in London at the time, said he would give us five minutes start before he let them out of the cage. McPhedran being small and Curtain having limited footwork, I suggested a dignified retreat as we were outgunned on every front.
Slasher would have none of it ,and was prepared to stand alone."Well," I decreed. "We will all get a good hiding." On being unleashed the dentist went to water. Slasher gave him a deserved verbal bake and when one of his seconds attempted to break it down Curtain interrupted:"Keep a mug's place or I'll knock you right out". It was the only aggression I'd ever heard from him in over 40 years.
Max continued...In my dotage I've been reflecting on what happened to some of my mates. You went off the radar and I note that you are now on Magnetic Island. You always had an appetite for water and wilderness, partly referring to me working at Halvorsen's Boatshed , Bobbin Head . I can still recall your tales of crocodiles in dry creeks from the Northern Territory days.
Max now writes a weekly column for the Sydney Morning Herald and does a podcast for ABC Radio National.
UPCOMING : A racing anecdote which almost certainly will not be mentioned in the Presnell book .