Reminiscent of Alice Springs’ boxing scene in the 1940s, when bouts were held under the stars in a back paddock, the Red Desert Dust Up has returned for its third year.
Local boxers packed a punch at the event on Saturday night, which was staged outdoors in the crisp winter air at the bottom of the iconic Anzac Hill.
The 400-strong crowd packed in around the ring and up the slopes of Anzac Hill, shouting words of encouragement – and a few expletives – at the boxers in the ring below.
Competitors travelled down from Darwin or from interstate, but more than half of the 30-odd competitors hailed from Alice Springs, including professional boxer Jason Lord who took on Australian champion boxer Jack Boote for the Australian Masters Super Heavyweight Title.
Mr Lord said he got into boxing as a youngster growing up in Katherine.
“I was a street kid, getting up to mischief, going to court and getting in lots of trouble as a kid, and it just put me on the right path,” he said.
“I didn’t think I was going to be a champion, I didn’t think it was going to take me anywhere, but it just got me away from a lot of things.
“You can be under the bright lights and, you know, ‘I’ve fought in front of millions of people,’ but to do this in front of your own hometown with your own people, that’s more nerve-wracking than anything.”
Xavier Fuametu (blue) from Alice Springs takes on Thomas Tambling from Darwin in the junior bout. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
As the clapper sounded the 10-second warning on the third and final round of the night, the crowd was wild with excitement, but it wasn’t enough for the local to take win.
It’s the third time the fight night has been held in Alice Springs, and event organiser Mark Nixon said the sport is making a comeback in town.
“The first year there was only one gym, we trained out of our backyard fitness gym,” he said.
“We put on our first night in 2015 and we had people from all over the place, people from interstate turned up.”
He said that two years later, they’d grown from one gym to four, and had a variety of boxers regularly turning up, from young kids to master adults.
“I really believe there’s another Lionel Rose in Central Australia somewhere ’cause there is a lot of talent,” Mr Nixon said.