Moresby ASOPA? No. Let’s try Canberra
Govt considers School of the Pacific

Boxing: Martin Beni put PNG on the map

Richard Richard E Jones

The PNG House of Assembly rose early on 26 September 1974. Chief Minister Michael Somare shelved his plans and drove the short distance to Port Moresby’s Sir Hubert Murray stadium to see PNG boxing hero Martin Beni contest an international bout. The 23-year-old motor mechanic from Waima village matched against Colin Cassidy, the Australian lightweight champion.

Fight promoter Phil Harris had worked feverishly leading up to the big night. His loudspeaker van touring Moresby’s suburbs and neighbouring villages urging people to support Beni in his most important bout. On fight night 9000 patrons turned up.

Beni started the fight without apparent nerves and set a brisk pace. By the third round, though, Cassidy was on song. Three stinging rights from the Australian had ‘The Chief’ Somare squirming in his ringside seat. Towards the end of the third, Beni took a Cassidy uppercut before landing a right to the body and a shot that started a Cassidy nosebleed. The hometown fans sensed an improvement. Beni was now consistently landing overhand lefts and rights to Cassidy’s head.

The Australian looked wobbly as the fifth began and ran into a battery of Beni punches but summoned a last burst of energy mid-round. He trapped Beni in the corner and landed a flurry of body punches. Then Beni landed five chopping rights on the Australian’s jaw. Cassidy slumped to the canvas, clinging to the ring’s bottom rope. The roar of the crowd drowned out the sound of the bell.

A savage 60 seconds awaited the Aussie lightweight champion in the sixth. Beni’s short arm blows hammered Cassidy but this time there was no bell to save him. He crumpled forward on his knees and his head fell to the canvas. The referee counted him out as the crowd roared its delight. Beni was on his way to a Commonwealth ranking in pro boxing.

So, just 12 months before independence from Australia was proclaimed, Martin Beni had put PNG on the sporting world map.

[With thanks to Mike Ryan and staff at Australia’s old Fighter magazine]

Richard Jones’ full account of this historic moment in PNG sport will be published in the next issue of Una Voce, the magazine of the PNG Association of Australia.


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David Roake

Just a short mail to thank you for passing my message on to your friend Richard [Jones].

He came up trumps with a really good picture of Martin Beni which I will add to my website shortly.

Thanks so much for your help, Keith.

Richard Jones

I have a mid-70s Fighter magazine which has pix of Martin Beni in it, but I’m not air-mailing my irreplaceable copy to the other side of the world. Sorry.

The people from the long defunct Fighter magazine - Mike Ryan and Bev(erley) Wills - were the people who would have had the pics for the lead story/magazine front cover taken all those years ago.

Maybe the Post-Courier in Lawes Road, Port Moresby, has back copies. As it’s in PNG, I wouldn’t hold my breath! Even tho’ it’s the capital city!

I've asked Ryycharrdde if he might scan the precious item for our UK friend, David - KJ

Reginald Renagi

Thank you David Roake for taking us down memory lane in that memorable fight and win by our then local Papuan hero, Martin Beni.

Martin was a strong strappy lad attending the Idubada Technical School in Kanudi, Port Moresby, when he put PNG on the world boxing map.

This famous fight inspired a Motuan string band from Roku village west of Port Moresby harbour to compose the popular Motuan song in tribute to Martin Beni: "Hepaisi Gabuna be Konedobu" (meaning 'the fight place is at Konedobu').

I have posted your comments in all print media outlets so anyone with Martin's old photographs can contact you.

I bump into Martin now and then in the streets. We do chat about the good old days of Mosbi.

I will contact my Papuan network to see if I can get him to contact you.

David Roake

I have been collecting photos of boxers for 50 years now and recently started my own website

The idea is to have a photographic record of every top class boxer of the gloved era up until 1985 and I have nearly 15,000 photos to try to upload.

It is very much an amateur venture and will hopefully keep me occupied when I retire. I am always ready and willing to help out other collectors without charge.

There are however, a few fighters that it is very difficult to obtain a photo of and one such is Martin Beni.

I wonder if you would be able to help me out with a picture of him when he was boxing and allow me to put it on my website.

Naturally I would credit you or your organisation with being the source of the photo.

My email address is [email protected].

I would be most grateful it you can help me out and hope to hear back from you when you have time. All good wishes.

I'm hoping former boxing reporter with the then South Pacific Post, Richard Jones, can help out with this one. Other readers who may be able to assist should contact David direct - KJ

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