Online Exhibition for St Augustine’s Boys’ Home Boxing and Wrestling Teams


The Manly Art of Self Defence


The teaching of boxing at Christian Brothers Boys’ Homes was a normal practice up till the end of WWII. However, the manly art of self-defence as it was called lasted longer at St Augustine’s Boys’ Home in Geelong up till the late 1960s when they won many championships.

St Augustine’s Boys’ Orphanage in Geelong had facilities to play a wide range of sports, e.g., cricket, football, basketball, baseball, tennis, along with a full gymnasium for boxing and wrestling. This online exhibition is about the very successful boxing and wrestling teams from St Augustine’s Boys Home.

The St Augustine’s boxing and wrestling teams travelled around Victoria and interstate for competitions in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The Geelong advertiser carried headlines such as “St Augustine’s won 27 medals,” in the state Amateur Boxing and Wrestling Championships at Caulfield Youth Centre.

“Jonno” pictured here (left) as a young boy was in St Augustine’s tells of going to Festival Hall in Melbourne to compete in boxing bouts.

These boxing and wrestling bouts were often fundraising events for the orphanages however, they produced holders of state championships as the article (right) describes.


Annual Competitions between St Augustine’s Boys Home and St Vincent de Paul’s Home in South Melbourne.


Huge crowds attended annual boxing championships and repeatedly showered the ring with coins. St Augustine’s boys would very often distinguish themselves in both boxing and wrestling at these annual events. There was always strong barracking for both teams.

These competitions were well covered in newspapers in both Geelong and Melbourne commending the toughness of all boys in the bouts who often ended up with gory noses and black eyes. They earned their coins!



The Australian Orphanage Museum was given a donation of boxing and wrestling trophies and medals, plus some newspaper articles by Care Leaver Cyril Ellis.

Cyril Ellis on the left in a boxing match.


Cyril Ellis was in St Augustine’s Boys’ Home during the 1950s and 1960s and was part of the successful boxing and wrestling team. He was taught boxing and wrestling by Brother Robinson from St. Augustine’s. Cyril travelled across the state to participate in boxing and wrestling matches. He represented the Geelong region in the Western District’s competitions.

The St Augustine’s team travelled to Bendigo for the country championships were Cyrill secured the winner’s cup. In the Melbourne Championships, he came runners-up. St Vincent’s de Paul’s organised a Golden Gloves competition, which was an 8-week tournament. Cyril won all the divisions for his weight and was Champion of Champions. The first time that title had been awarded.



Wrestling at Festival Hall


Westling bouts between St Augustine’s and St Vincent’s troupes would also be held at Festival Hall in Melbourne. This newspaper article from 1940 describes how St Augustine’s boys were too clever for their wrestling rivals chiefly using “half-nelson’s,” the most effective move in wrestling. St Augustine’s won sixteen points, – eight wins overcoming St Vincent’s four points, – two wins. The article goes on to say all but three bouts were won by decisive two falls.

Cyril Ellis donated the AOM his third placed wrestling medal in the Junior Victorian Championships in 1955.

The second trophy which has no engravings was typical of what boys would get for coming 2nd in a wrestling bout.