Douglas Smith

The South Sydney community is mourning the loss of Uncle Les Davison on Aug. 25, four days after celebrating his 83rd birthday.

Widely known and well respected, Davison was a proud Dharawal man who was born and bred in La Perouse.

At age 11, he left school to pursue full-time work to support his family after his father went off to fight in both World War Two and the Korean War.

It was during that time that he discovered his love for boxing.

“He found boxing, going to the police boys club in Kingsford with all his mates, and then it just grew from there and he found that he was pretty good at it,” his grandson Alan Daly told NITV News.

A talented athlete in his younger years, he once reached the qualifying round to represent Australia at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

However, the young pugilist was told to lose.

In a 2014 interview, Davison explained the reason why.

"I said, ‘Why do you want me to lose?’ And they said, ‘Because if you win you’ll have the right to represent Australia in the Olympic Games, but you’re not going to be allowed to,’” said Davison.

The experience left a mark on him, according to his grandson.

“He's mentioned it a few times over the years, that it really took a bit of a toll,” said Daly.

“He worked his way through the ranks through the amateurs and fought his way to be able to go and fight at the Olympics, only to be told that he wasn't a citizen of Australia and that he couldn't go.” 

Despite the rejection, 44 years later, the AOC would have an opportunity to make some amends when they announced that Davison would become a torchbearer in his home community of La Perouse for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“It was such an honour and for him to run in La Perouse,” said his daughter Beverley Davison.

“The whole community, black, white, and brindle all turned out to watch him run and it was like such a proud moment for everybody.

“And his grandsons ran on the side of the road with him up the street so yeah, that was a proud moment that.”

During his life, Davison continued to give back to his people.

"He was involved heavily in the La Perouse Aboriginal community and also the wider community,” said Alan.

“In his younger years, he was the chief massage guru for the A-grade rugby league team at La Perouse.

“He was involved in the locker rooms golf club that travelled around Australia... he was an avid golf player.

Daughter Beverley said her father was immensely proud of where he came from.

“He was a character... he was very well known and very well respected in... the La Perouse community," said Davison.

"A proud Dharawal man born and bred in La Perouse."

Uncle Les is survived by his wife Aunty Delma, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.