The Age

in tentcity

Author: by Viviane Dalles
Date: 02/08/2014
Words: 201
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Good Weekend
Page: 26
A Victorian sporting tradition survives in outback Australia.

he bell rings. The spectators crowd together. The show is about to start. From the stage, with his black hat and his meticulously braided long hair, a tattoo around his left ear expressing his dual Maori and Australian cultures, Michael Karaitiana's dark eyes fall upon the crowd.

Popular throughout the 20th century in Australia, the boxing tent would travel from country town to country town, staging fights. In 1924, Roy Bell became one of the first men to take to the road with his caravan, travelling all over the Northern Territory, Queensland and NSW. Michael Karaitiana is his grandson, and he's been immersed in the tradition from a very young age.

Karaitiana's father is Maori, his mother is Roy Bell's daughter. For him, the boxing tent is more than a simple boxing match: it's family history. He left school at 16 to take over the business, and keeping it running after all his rivals have packed up is a source of personal pride.

Undeterred by being the last man standing, Karaitiana is now preparing to pass on his knowledge to his eldest son, Marshall, in order to keep the tradition of the boxing tent alive.

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