Home Boxing History Australia’s Greatest Boxer to never win a world title

Australia’s Greatest Boxer to never win a world title



Born Kempsey, Australia February 4 1926

Died August 11 1952 Age 26

Turned Pro: August 16 1941

Record: 100 fights, won 87 wins (52) 10 losses 1 draw, 2 No Decisions

Won Australia middleweight title May 1946

Won Australian light heavyweight title August 1946

Won Empire (forerunner of Commonwealth) Middleweight title September 1949

Won Australia heavyweight title September 1950 (held all three Australian titles simultaneously)

Beat: Alex Buxton, Robert Villemain, Dick Turpin, Bobo Olson (twice)-the second fight in Chicago in 1951 was the first televised coast-to-coast in the USA.

Lost to: Yolande Pompey, Tommy Yarosz (other losses were domestic fights early in his career).

Born David Ritchie in a mission in New South Wales he was the first indigenous (Aborigine) boxer to rise to fame

Fifth of eight children to George Ritchie and his Aborigine wife Mabel

His maternal great-uncle was a bare knuckle fighter, his father boxed as did five of his brothers

Following his success in Australia and with a 67-9-1 record he fought in England  and defeated Robert Villeman, who had lost a controversial decision against Jake LaMotta. After losing to Sands in July 1949 Villeman went on to beat LaMotta later in the same year.

After his first victory over Bobo Olson he was rated No 2 middleweight by Ring Magazine behind Randolph Turpin. Attempts were made to get Sands a fight with Sugar Ray Robinson but Turpin landed the title chance and outpointed Robinson with Sands having to settle for winning a ten round fight on the undercard.

Fresh efforts were made after he beat Olson in 1951but a loss against Yolande Pompey in November 1951 was a big blow and after returning to Australia and winning four fights attempts were again being made to get a fight with Robinson who had regained the title in September 1951 but on 11 August 1952 a truck Sands was driving overturned and he died that evening at the too young age of 26. Who can say how much more he could have achieved

Many Australians (and others) believe that Sands is the beat boxer ever produced by Australia and that he would have beaten Robinson if he could have landed a fight against Sugar Ray in 1951. He was inducted into the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009 and is generally recognised as one of the greatest fighters never to have won a world title