One of many boxing talents hailing from Flemington and Kensington, Jack Carroll (born as Arthur Ernest Hardwick in Kensington in 1906), won the Australian title in 1928 and never lost it. He “re-won” it in 1933, after others claimed the title, and still held it when he retired in 1938. He was inducted into the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.
The seventh child of Elizabeth and Thomas Hardwick, “Red” Hardwick went to Boundary State School and Kensington State School, when he was described as “one of the Kensington scallywags”, before working in the abattoirs and at Kimpton’s Flour Mills.
In a feature for the Sporting Globe, Carroll recounted his early days in Kensington:
As a kid at school I could always use my fists, and was never very far away when there was any scrapping to be done. At the same time, I wasn’t a bully, judged by Kensington standards, because out there it used to be a case of look after yourself or look out!
Carroll claimed he was “never a very rugged-looking youngster. On the contrary, I must have been a bag of bones in comparison with some of the youngsters.” Nevertheless, he said:
Every now and then I would play the wag from school and would ride around on the cart with the local baker… I wasn’t exactly the apple of the teacher’s eye
It was suggested that I ought to leave the Boundary Road State School and go to Kensington State School. That was okay with me!
I quietened down a lot at the new school probably because I found a fine outlet for excess energy by joining George Lynch’s physical culture class at Newmarket. For years I was one of George’s lads and the training did me a lot of good. I still cherish a few medals for wrestling, skipping, athletics and that sort of thing which George would present at the end of the year to the boy who’d won most points in the many competitions.
That was where I first got the feel of a boxing glove; but I was more attracted to wrestling than boxing, and I picked up quite a lot of points about the mat game in that class.
Carroll recounted how he would train on Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday mornings at Billy McWilliam’s rooms in Grattan Street, Carlton, but his mate John Woolley, the “cause” of him becoming a professional boxer, would get them practising on off nights in a loft over a stable in Woolley’s brother’s back yard in Scarborough Place, Kensington.
Carroll said “We had a smelly old set of gloves, and the four or five of us would paste each other mercifully. And how I loved it – I couldn’t get enough of it.”
Carroll adopted the name “Jack Carroll”, which was the real name of Charlie Ring, who had been middleweight champion of Australia a year or so before and used to be a hero for him. It also helped him hide his fighting from his family, who did not approve.
Carroll had just started working at Kimpton’s Flour Mills when in 1924 he was matched to a six-rounder at the West Melbourne Stadium with Vin O’Brien. It was a problem for Carroll getting away from home for the fight without arousing suspicions. On the day of the fight, he came home in the early afternoon, packed his bag and passed it out through the window into a side laneway. When he was sure none of his family was about, he smuggled his bag down to Fred Sharp’s shop on the corner. He later told his mother he was off to watch the fights. He said, “As I limped off for my first fight, I realised that, not only did I have to win but I had also to come out of that fight without a mark on my face, else there would be some awkward explanations to make back at home.”
Carroll lamented that he could not persuade people he had his “fighter’s nose” before he became a boxer and he did not get it from a punch. He said “I was playing football with an Ugly Men’s team at Kensington about the time I left school. Abie Young and I were running for the ball. I tripped, and as Abie made a might kick at the ball my nose got in the way.”
You can see Carroll fighting Jimmy Leeto in 1937 in a compilation of newsreel footage from the National Film and Sound Archive.
Peter Corris, “Hardwick, Arthur Ernest (1906-1976)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, ANU (published in hard copy 1983, accessed online on 20 July 2016)
Jack Carroll with Aubrey Burt, “Jack Carroll’s Dented Nose”, Sporting Globe, 6 June 1936 (page 7)
Jack Carroll with Aubrey Burt, “How Carroll Became a Boxer”, Sporting Globe, 13 June 1936 (page 12)
Photo (193-) from the Arnold Thomas Boxing Collection, held by the National Library of Australia.