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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Les Darcy, Australian Middleweight Boxer

c. 1910
an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 20.3 cm x 14.1 cm, image: 20.3 cm x 14.1 cm)

Les Darcy (1895–1917), boxer, earned his first money in the ring as a fourteen-year- old. By the time he was eighteen, Sydney boxing promoters had begun to import fighters to challenge him. Throughout 1915 and 1916 Darcy won 22 consecutive bouts, in all winning 46 of his 50 professional fights. His toughness, his boyish looks and his humble background quickly made him a national hero – until he was suspected of shirking enlistment. Denied a passport, he stowed away on a ship bound for New York on the eve of the 1916 conscription referendum. He was stripped of his titles, and American promoters dropped him. He became a US citizen and volunteered for the army in April 1917, but a fortnight later was admitted to hospital with a dental infection; soon, he died of pneumonia. After an immense funeral procession in San Francisco, his young body was brought back to Australia. Some 250,000 people are said to have lined Sydney’s streets as his coffin made its way back toward his native Maitland.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Les Darcy (age 15 in 1910)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

The Sands Brothers (group photograph)
The Sands Brothers (group photograph)
The Sands Brothers (group photograph)
The Sands Brothers (group photograph)

Seeing stars

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2013

Joanna Gilmour explores photographic depictions of Aboriginal sportsmen including Lionel Rose, Dave Sands, Jerry Jerome and Douglas Nicholls.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency