Save Father Dave’s Community Boxing Club
By Father Dave Smith
After 31 years of service to the community, Father Dave’s Boxing Club is being evicted by the Anglican Church in Dulwich Hill. The church, where the ‘Fighting Father’ had been Parish Priest for 30 years, has asked him to remove all equipment belonging to the club and to vacate the premises by 28 December 2021.
Father Dave’s Boxing Club has attracted worldwide attention for its outreach services in the inner West of Sydney. Father Dave has been twice awarded Marrickville’s Citizen of the Year award, and three times nominated for Australian of the Year, for his work with young people at risk. “We have been serving our young people for more than three decades now and this is a significant blow – not only to me, I believe, but to the whole community,” Father Dave said.
Father Dave established the flight club in 1991 along with a drop-in centre for young people addicted to heroin, who were supported to beat their habit through boxing. Father Dave went on to become a professional fighter to fund the work. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight club was working with a large number of young people, taking referrals from government agencies and welfare organisations, and catering to local kids from the inner West. It ran weekend fitness camps in the bush and worldwide mission trips.
Closed during the COVID restrictions, the fight club is only opening its doors again this week, allowing them only a fortnight before they will be locked out (including the Christmas week). The club is appealing for a few month’s extension to their lease in order to find somewhere else for their young people to meet so that their work can continue.