Boxing: East v West as Gyngell squeaks points decision over Packer

by  Patrick Skene

Twitter:   @patrick_skene


It’s all gone wild in Sydney this morning.


Yesterday we were teased with the titillating prospect of photos of an old school bareknuckle fist fight on the streets of leafy Bondi.


Today we hit the mother lode – pages 1-9 of the Daily Telegraph in amazing detail of the clash between two old mates, Channel 9 royals Jamie Packer and David Gyngell.


Amazing that for all the joint ventures and billionaire love ins, it was Rupert Murdoch who won the bidding from Packer’s own 9 Network to publish the Packer family’s most embarrassing moment with a bid in excess of $200,000.


In media if you want a friend, buy a dog.


The twittersphere responded with immediate brilliance –‘Who wants to beat a billionaire’ and  ‘Fist on Nine’.


So rare in the days of one punch homicide and the O’Farrell ‘coward punch’ mandatory sentencing laws that two males would choose to resolve a dispute by putting up the dukes.


The match up looked like a mismatch not unlike our very own recent Rocky shot when Alex Leapai failed to wrestle the heavyweight title from Wladimir Klitschko.


Post America’s Cup, the Heavyweight title is our new Holy Grail.


Before Leapai’s title shot it was last contested by an Australian in 1908 and our continued incompetence is a mystery to all from a nation of supposed big hard men.


Leapai did his part with a few airswings but his emulsification in 5 rounds continued our current worst ever boxing slump with a lone world champion (the invisible Cameroon Australian super middle champ Sakio Bika) and nothing else doing except Daniel the Real Deal Geale.


Who would have thought Gyngell would be a chance against the colossus Packer. No amount of sweet science could overcome the size difference – the very reason boxing has weight classes.


In the Blue Corner James “Ratpac” Packer a prohibitive Klitschko like favourite on the TAB, glazed eyes, steaming home from the airport and ready to rumble.


In the red corner Bruce “Salt and Pepper” Gyngell giving away height, reach, weight and footwear advantages, sitting on the bonnet of his car waiting for the showdown.




No security, no cheerleaders.


Barefoot, bearded and ice cool, sitting and waiting like an eastern mystic.


How would the styles match up?


Not the first time that question has been asked on Australian soil.


The most famous clash of styles was the fight to end all fights in Echuca in 1879.


Melbourne’s old bent nosed Abe Hicken, the last of the bareknucklers took on Sydney’s shiny Larry Foley, an advocate of gloved boxing and the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.


Foley won the day with a 16th round knockout consigning bareknuckling to history.


The tables have turned on boxing with UFC mixed martial arts now taking huge chunks of boxings global market share.


The styles became clear early in the contest.


Jamie Packer’s eastern ventures into Macao had had no discernible impact on his plan which was rigidly “put em up” boxing.


Upright, chin up, closefisted, hands out.


It worked at a few brawls at B&S Balls. Why change.


The ghost of Abe Hicken with the advantages of Klitshcko.


Gyngell representing the new UFC era, barefoot, two-week beard, outweighed but sporting an eastern style designed to overcome larger obstacles.


An open handed fighting style described by the Telegraph’s boxing expert Paul Kent as a “Grasshopper stance that resembled David Carradine’s in Kung Fu.”


Grasshopper, Bruce Lee, Mr Miyagi…  Take your pick.


Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” about to be tested against the cold steel of brute force.


Stylistically it was east vs west. Closed fist v open hand.  Power v subtlety. Yin v Yang.  Backwards Abe Hicken v the futuristic Larry Foley.

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.

Gyngell commenced proceedings with an old fashioned sledge.


Sun Tzu “If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.


It achieved its goal as Packer bull charged him and the fight was on.


One of Gyngell’s hands was protecting his left temple, a piece of homework that indicated he knew that Packer’s right was the one to watch.


Maybe this scene had played out before, in a backyard or family holiday.


A squaring up of an old wound.


Had anything changed since then?


Sun Tzu “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”


Or he had seen with Eastern calmness that Packers left fist contained his Blackberry phone rendering it useless for a telling blow.


Despite all of Packers advantages he could not penetrate Gyngell’s crafty defence.


Sun Tzu “If quick, I survive. If not quick, I am lost.”


High risk and high reward.


Punch after punch was thrown by Packer without landing, Gyngell dodging knuckle like Neo dodging bullets in the Matrix.


Sun Tzu “If he is in superior strength, evade him.”


With his underprepared opponent huffing and puffing and without a Plan B, Gyngell launched an overhand right of his own, not unlike Leapai’s wild overhand right, the difference being that Gyngell’s landed with laser like precision on Packers left eye.


The old overhand right, the ‘hail mary’ of the almost beaten, last chance dance of the overwhelmed underdog.


Sun Tzu “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”


In amateur boxing scoring Gyngell 1, Packer 0.


Rather than sit back and admire his handiwork, Gyngell, sensing a great upset in the works moves to clinch Packer’s stomach, a seasoned boxing veterans move to milk a round from the judges when you are ahead.


The bout degenerated into a wrestle with Packer on top, the much bigger man’s weight advantage coming through but still unable to land the blow.


An unlikely win to Gyngell on points.  David beats Goliath.


After some gritted teeth threats from Packer into Gyngell’s ear, security pulled them apart.


Fight over.


The PR machine flew into fifth gear.


Packer headed north to the Palm Beach retreat for a pow wow with media heavyweights John Alexander and Lachlan Murdoch.


Back at the scene, early news reports had a security guard out hunting for teeth, which was changed to sunglasses.


Packer appeared in public without a scratch, panelbeating complete.


Gyngell appeared shaved and ready for action.


Mission accomplished and message delivered.


What did we learn?


Australian big men still can’t fight so it could be another 100 years till we get a world heavyweight title shot.


The winners?


The photographer $200,000 richer and Channel 9’s make up lady whose rudely interrupted Sunday afternoon more than compensated by quadruple time and a half.


And for Gyngell – a win on points but I would suggest he follow one final piece of ancient wisdom from Sun Tzu.


“Be where your enemy is not.”


Read more fine sportswriting at

About Patrick Skene

An Epicurean Celt interested in Sport, Culture & History.


  1. Nice work Patrick.

    Les Darcy would have won a World Heavyweight title in 1916 but no one would fight him. They feared the damage to their reputations if a middleweight (which Darcy was) knocked them over.

    Ned Kelly won the unofficial world heavy weight title when he had a bare knuckle 20 rounder with Wild Wright behind the Beechworth pub in 1874. Ned won.

  2. matt watson says

    Hilarious that these men claim to be ‘best mates’ despite the photographs.
    When was the last time you punched on with your best mates over a disagreement?
    The police should charge them both for public affray, or going half-arsed in public so as to cause hilarity, or impersonating fighters.
    Is there a charge for creating public embarrassment?
    Unfortunately there is no charge for stupidity.
    And it is always nice when a big, heavy bully gets clobbered by an older, shorter, lighter opponent.

  3. Thanks Dips – right with you on Darcy.
    At the frighteningly young age of 21, his demise leaves us with one of the great “what could have been” stories in Australian sports history.
    A brave principled Irish Australian who history has judged very kindly.

  4. Rick Kane says

    Thanks Patrick, your report is more entertaining than the “stoush”. That was no fight. That was a second division rugger scrum. Head out to Bundoora or Pakenham on a Friday night and you’ll see a fight. What I really want to know is what was in the text that apparently started this puppy dog of a fight.


  5. RK – I’m only guessing but the cause of the fight may have been a girl. As it has been down the ages.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    According to Wankerry it was due to a lack of respect.

  7. Funny piece, like it

    Interesting to think though that if the fight was held about 10 hours earlier, on the same spot, between two blokes with about a billion less dollars between them, we’d be crying out for changes to grog serving rules and screaming about the descent of society around Bondi.

    ACA would run a lead on the danger of the streets and how we are descending into chaos.

    Two dills with money and priviledge punching on. Well done to the bloke lucky enough to film it and get $200K from an equally desperate News Ltd to publish


  8. Rick Kane says

    Too true Sean, too true.

    Hey Dips, I’m guessing they fight about money in the way us mere mortal men go the biff over a girl.

  9. I doubt the documentary will be as riveting as When We Were Kings.
    Ripper report, Patrick.

  10. Peter_B says

    Ned Kelly and Les Darcy? Jeez Dips, you Feinians never let up on the “we wuz robbed”.
    Very clever, witty and accurate piece. Thanks Patrick.
    I’m waiting for the telescopic lens pix of Jungle Jim and Miranda DeVrille. They will be worth a mill, if the punchup is $200k.
    Now that he is a Casino Mogul rather than a Yellow Rag Baron, Jungle Jim seems to have lost his taste for foot in the door journalism.

  11. Yep great suff Patrick.
    Could not care less about those two “cashed up bogans”.
    And what does it say about our society that someone reaped $200K
    for the photos? The age of entitlement is not yet over.

    Dips, would love to have seen the stoush between Ned Kelly & Wild Wright.

  12. I am soooooo tempted to read parts of this post on the podcast in a Howard Cosell voice…

    Great work

  13. Do it Steve.

  14. Apparently it was a misunderstanding. Packer thought a 9 tv crew were stalking him because a ob van was parked outside his house. It was there because a 9 employee had driven it home and couldn’t fit it in the garage. The Gynge went around to assure Packer it was kosher. Packer wasn’t assuaged.

    Reminds me off a bit of biffo on the field against the aptly named Dubai Dingoes. One of ours and one of theirs had a disagreement and were hands on each others throats thinking about hurling the big overhand right. I was on the bench with one of our blokes best mates. I asked if we should clear the bench in support. He said “Nah, by the time I got there, I’d have to catch my breath for a minute before I could contribute”.

  15. djlitsa says

    Very entertaining Patrick – great stuff.

Leave a Comment