Father Dave’s missive – November 21st, 2013

G’day Fighter,

What a magnificent time we had last Thursday night at Fight Club!

If you missed my invitation, we had six members of the Palestinian Olympic team join us.

Not all of the team were boxers but all of them were great ambassadors for their country and a number of them joined in the training even though it was their first time in the ring!

I had particularly memorable bouts with Ahmed, their swimming champ who did his best to put me on the canvas, and with Aseel – a lovely girl about the same age as my eldest daughter and a long-distance runner.

I also did a round with their former heavyweight champ, Nader Jayousi, who is now their boxing coach. He was gracious enough not to put me on the canvas.

I have to tell you that the pic of my stare-out with Nader is one I will always treasure. It was taken just before we did our round together and has Michael Dahdal (of Palestine MMA) keeping us apart. It’s the complimentary tatts that I love. I have my small white-boy logo of the Fighting Fathers on my shoulder. He has an enormous tattoo of Yasser Arafat on his!

(hint: hover your cursor over the pic to pause the slide-show)

Palestinian Olympians visit Father Dave's Fight Club
I teach Ahmed and Aseel their boxing basics
Heavyweight, Nader Jayousi, hits the bags
Sizing up against Palestinian Heavyweight, Nader Jayousi
This pic gives the illusion that I was in control! 🙂
Friends for life! 🙂
A great night! 🙂

Thank you to John Clutterbuck for providing us with these wonderful photos.

It was an inspiring night and one that has left me with a powerful sense of the way boxing could be used to help fight prejudice against Palestinians and build bridges between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

I’m not exactly sure at this stage how this will all play out but Michael and I were talking about sponsoring a Palestinian boxing team to come to Australia. In my mind I’d like to take it one step further and see a combined team of Australians and Palestinians of all faiths touring this country and then moving through Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, teaching boxing to children in the camps and preaching a message of reconciliation and hope.

Does that sound overly idealistic? Watch this space … :-)

Sermon Time!

“Blessed are you poor!”

That’s the title of today’s sermon, and it’s a direct quote from Jesus! (Luke 6:20)

It’s NOT a typo. It’s “Blessed are you poor” and not “blessed are the poor in spirit!”, which is the better-known variation of the saying and turns up in a totally different part of the New Testament (Matthew 5:3).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” sounds sort of poetic, but “blessed are you poor” sounds  like a crazy thing to say. Surely if you’re poor it means you missed out on being blessed!

Of course it’s easy to romanticize poverty when you’re young but once you’ve visited a refugee camp or have seen families lose everything through war, fire or flood you realise that there is nothing blessed about the state of poverty, or is there?

Perhaps Jesus sees something we don’t see?

Or perhaps He meant something else?

Or perhaps He was just plain wrong?

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If you can’t see this video, click here.

Warriors’ Weekend

I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that our Warrior Weekends now have their own website: http://warriorweekends.com.

You’ll also, no doubt, be glad to know that you still have time to to book your place on our last Warrior Weekend for 2013, running from December 6th to 8th.

You can expect the usual combination of intense training and good, clean fun:

  • Develop your boxing skill
  • Build your fitness
  • Meet some great people
  • Enjoy the Aussie bush!

$110 per person covers accommodation, training and food for the weekend, and subsidies are available for those without a regular income.

We’ll also help organise transport if you can’t get to Binacrombi under your own steam. You can’t ask for much more than that! :-)

Call Fighting Father Marco on 1800 620 706 to book your place.

Solomon with his two boys

Solomon with his two boys

And before I let you go, please join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to our brother in the Good Fight, Sol Egberime – friend, fellow-parishioner at Holy Trinity, and senior boxing trainer for our Warrior Weekend.

I won’t tell you how old he’s just turned but I will say that he’s still young enough to take his shot at the World Junior-Welterweight title next yet. I’m hoping that 2014 will be a big year for him. Indeed, I’m hoping that it will be a big year for all of us!

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!


About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

My not-quite-weekly Missive – November 5th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Forgive my prolonged silence. I’m afraid I’ve just had my head down lately, struggling with balancing my commitments to the church, the youth centre, the fight club, the campsite, my websites and my family.

Celebrating some birthdays at our Youth Centre

Celebrating birthdays at our Youth Centre

Things are plenty busy at the moment as we get into the lead-up to Christmas. Even so, I’m gulping down a glass of Toohey’s New at the moment and feeling relaxed. I should add that beer is not normally my drink of choice, and neither is Toohey’s New my normal beer of choice, but this beer has a story behind it that makes it taste rather good. Allow me to share the story with you … :-)

A few days ago I received a surprise visit from Trevor – a local mentally-disabled man who roams the streets of Dulwich Hill day and night and is a warm and welcoming personality. I see Trevor almost every day but he doesn’t normally visit the rectory specifically, and neither does he normally have a friend with him.

“Father Dave”, Trevor shouted in his always-too-loud voice. “This is Hadi and he needs to talk to you. He’s just got out of prison and he’s got a few problems. He needs to talk to a priest.”  Trevor then turned and left me with Hadi – a short man of around 30 with a thin moustache. He eyed me silently while taking a drag on his cigarette.

“Are you OK, brother?” I asked.

“I’m a bit confused, Father”.

“Confused?” I questioned, using my best counselling voice.

“Like maybe I should go f**k some c**t up?”, he replied.

I tried to maintain my professional counsellor expression and nodded while my brain screamed “that is so NOT what I expected you to say!”

Indeed, it wasn’t just what he said that threw me, but the fact that he said it with such quiet detachment, as if he’d said “like maybe I should go get a haircut?”

Hadi explained himself further: “Like maybe I should roll some c**t”.

I continued to nod and said, “that sounds like a really bad idea”.

Hadi agreed. “It’s just when I get on the piss I go a bit crazy” he said.

It was at this point that I noticed that there were some bottles of beer at his feet. They were unopened but had clearly been separated from a six-pack, the rest of which I assumed had been consumed.

Drawing on my years of counselling experience, I responded with “then you’d better stay off the piss!”

Hadi nodded pensively.

I said “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to open the church up and I want you to go in and say some prayers and have a bit of a think about things and I’ll come back as soon as I’ve finished what I was working on and if you want to talk some more we can.”

Hadi was agreeable to this and I left him in the church alone.

I went back home and debriefed with Ange who suggested that I close the back door. “I don’t really want someone whose looking to f**k some c**t up wandering into the house if that’s OK?” I closed the back door.

I returned to the church building about 15 minutes later and Hadi had gone. I was sorry. Then I noticed he had left the unopened bottles of beer in my driveway!

As I say, Toohey’s New is not my favourite beer, and beer is not my favourite drink, but it tastes just right tonight! 

Sermon Time

Thinking of Hadi and me in the church together did remind me of a joke that Jesus told about two unlikely characters that bump into each other in the synagogue. It’s found in Luke chapter 18 but I don’t want to say more about it here as it will spoil the joke if you haven’t heard it before. Serendipitously I got to preach on the same passage last Sunday!

It may not be the funniest joke Jesus ever told but it is one of the most confronting!

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If you can’t view this video above, you can hear the audio version here or get the video with the full text of the sermon here.

Syria Update

I can’t let a missive go by without making comment on what’s happening in my beloved Syria!

The latest news, in case you haven’t heard, is that Israel has attacked Syria again – a naval attack this time on a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia.

Of course (as with the four previous attacks) Israel neither confirmed nor denied that they were responsible, but this time the Obama administration made Israel’s culpability public! This led to …. take a guess:

  1. Israel apologising for attacking another sovereign nation without provocation?
  2. The Israeli government desperately trying to justify itself to the international public?

No. Neither of the above, but rather:

3. Israel expressing outrage and indignation at the US for exposing them! (read more)

I guess you can’t blame Netanyahu. High profile criminals never expect to be held accountable for their crimes nowadays. It’s those who expose them who are hunted down and made to pay – Morde Vanunu, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Ed Snowden …

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, our dear Mother Agnes has begun her tour of the USA and Canada. On Sunday she spoke at the church of my dear friend Father Labib in San Francisco. How I wish I could have been there!

Mother’s full agenda can be found on the Syria Solidarity Movement website. If she’s coming to a town near you I’d encourage you to do your utmost to hear her. And please give both her and Sister Carmel a Syrian kiss on both cheeks from me when you see them.:-)

And whether or not you get to meet Mother in person, do please take a look at this wonderful pictorial that was put together of her recent initiative in Moaddamiya – a rebel-held city that has been under siege for many months.

Mother Agnes crossed the battle-lines, carrying only a white flag, and helped free 5,400 civilians and transport them to safety. You’ll find the story, the pics, and a video of Mother and Sister Carmel sharing olives with rebel soldiers and civilians in Moaddamiya here.

Mother Agnes in Moaddamiya

Mother Agnes in Moaddamiya

What’s On?

As I foreshadowed, there’s plenty happening in our part of the world at the moment. Even so, I am only going to mention one important event at this stage. It’s one that I am hoping you’ll get involved with –  the December 2013 Warriors’ Weekend Boot Camp!

We’ll be heading down to Binacrombi December 6 to 8. When I say ‘we’ I mean me, some of our Youth Centre kids, a squad from our Fight Club, a contingent from neighbouring fight clubs and youth refuges and … YOU! (well, I hope you’re coming).

It promises to be another spectacular experience, led by some of Australia’s greatest boxers – all with an aim of helping you find your engine!

A video says a thousand words, so If you missed the video clip that Denning put together on our last camp, click here (though note that it won’t play on a mobile phone).

I’ll be putting together a dedicated site and flyers and other promotional material for the camp over the coming weeks but why wait? Reserve your place now! An email and a deposit of $10 will do it! Total price for the weekend will be $110 (GST inclusive) and that covers accommodation, food and training, though not transport (though we can certainly organise your transport if necessary. :-)

German women's welterweight champion (Nadine) spars with Dulwich Hill's own Sol Egberime at our last Boot Camp

German women’s welterweight champion (Nadine) spars with Dulwich Hill’s own Sol Egberime at our last Boot Camp

OK. It’s time to wrap up another missive, but not before I share with you some family pics that I’ve taken since our last communication.

Most of these pics were from the wonderful two-day Halloween holiday that Imogen and I took last week – venturing up to Movie World on the Gold Coast for their annual ‘Fright Night’ extravaganza. I’ve also included a wonderful pic of dear Francesca wearing her scary Halloween mask! She made it herself!

Imogen at Sea World
Halloween Fight Night at Movie World - Imogen meets a zombie
I finally find somewhere where I can take a proper break
Fright Night at Movie World - Imogen and I are embraced by the Joker!
Francesca with her scary Halloween mask
Two beautiful redheads
Imogen and I take some time off and visit Movie World
Imogen and I meet one of our great role models - Mrs Puff -at Sea World

That’s enough from me for today.

Until next time we meet, I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four