Les Darcy

The story of champion boxer Les Darcy (31 October 1895 – 24 May 1917) is one of light and dark. Darcy’s legacy remains entwined in the cultural fabric of the Maitland community, with his life and achievements represented across Maitland City Council collections. Found in the collection of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery and the special collections of Maitland Libraries photographs, newspaper clippings, and handwritten postcards amongst other unique objects, highlight the continued reverence and connection between the athlete and his town.

Born and raised in East Maitland, New South Wales, Les Darcy became a beloved athlete, achieving international acclaim in the boxing world by his natural talents, elevated through hard work. In his short but stellar career as a professional boxer, Les Darcy fought a staggering fifty bouts, winning all but four - and he never lost by knockout.

Dave Smith, a former Australian Heavyweight Champion (1913-1915) and trainer to Darcy remarked, “He became an outstanding figure, renowned, not only for his prowess in the ring, but for his personal qualities as well his career was outstanding and sensational in every way, reading more like fiction than fact.[1]

[1] Dave Smith, introduction to Francis J. Ferry, The Life Story of Les Darcy, 1935, p. 4. MRAG Collection.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery is the custodian of an extensive collection of Les Darcy material, including Darcy’s personal belongings and handwritten letters, numerous photographs, century old newspapers and magazines and historic and contemporary ephemera relating to the man and the sport of boxing. This collection of items has enabled MRAG to tell the story, not only of Darcy, but also the Golden Age of Australian boxing in the early 20th century, and stories of our town and nation during the turbulent times of the First World War. This collection has also inspired artists and writers in the creation of new work for new audiences to engage with this historical collection in a contemporary context.