Controlled by Fear?

Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Rallying for Julian Assange - Bring Him Home
Bush adventures at Binacrombi
Bush adventures at Binacrombi
My battle with the Combat Sports Authority continues
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
Celebrating Ola and Jessie's wedding on Lord Howe Island
A foreword by the Grand Mufti of Syria
A foreword by the Grand Mufti of Syria

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Hi Fighter,

I begin today’s newsletter from beautiful Lord Howe Island, somewhere off the east coast of Australia (though I have no idea exactly where). This is not somewhere I ever thought I’d end up, but about 18 months ago I agreed to do a wedding here for a young Swedish boxer named Ola (who also happens to be an Anglican priest) and his Australian partner, Jesse, and … here we are. Two days in paradise!

Back on the mainland things look far less idyllic. Indeed, we seem to be quickly degenerating into a society ruled by fear – fear of infection from this latest virus. People are fighting to empty the supermarkets shelves, preparing for a lock-down. Tempers are short and anxiety levels are high.

I guess we used up our resilience. Will-power is like any other muscle. You can only exercise it so much before it wears out, which is why advertisers always try to hit us repeatedly with their ads in order to wear us down. In this case, we survived the drought, the fires and the floods. We just didn’t have any will-power left over to resist the next crisis. It wouldn’t have mattered what it was.

Personally, I have no intention of being ruled by fear and I don’t think the church should give in to fear either. “Perfect love casts out all fear”, the Apostle John says (1 John 4:18). In Jesus’ case that meant Him touching all sorts of people who others considered unclean (lepers, people with different illnesses, etc). Likewise, in today’s environment, I can’t see Jesus refusing a handshake or a hug to anyone, I won’t either.

Mind you, I’m battling my own fears at the moment – fears about my own future, as my life’s vocation as parish priest of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill draws to a close. Everyone has been asking me what I plan to do next – none more so than my youngest daughter who gets worried about where we will live. I thought I’d take the opportunity in this newsletter to share some of my hopes for the future.

I’m not envisaging any further opportunities to work with a church, and, at 58 years of age, I think I’ve left my run a bit late to retrain as a neurosurgeon (as attractive as that option might seem). My hope is that I’ll be able to keep going with my work with the young people through the boxing club, and hopefully continue too with my social justice work – campaigning for peace, for freedom of speech, for a fair go for asylum-seekers, etc. The trick will be finding a way to stay financial while I do what I feel called to do. I’ve got a few ideas:

Firstly, I may be able to develop our campsite ministry – Binacrombi – into something that generates an income. After almost 20 years of operation, it’s yet to turn a profit. Even so, we’ve seen lots of wonderful things take place there, and it may be that if we can increase the number of wonderful things taking place, it may also generate enough to support Fran and myself.

I’ve been talking lately with some Indigenous leaders about running camps for Indigenous young people at our site. That would be brilliant. I’ve also been separately talking to an old boxing champion who now works with vulnerable men, and to a church leader who works with at-risk women. They are both really keen to try bush retreats as a path to healing for the people they work with. Who knows where this might take us? 🙂

Independent of this, I’m about to publish my second book – “Christians and Muslims can be friends”. As I said to my young daughter, all we need to do is sell a million copies at a profit of $1 per book and we’ll have enough to buy a house! That’s easier said than done, of course, and the aim of the book is not to make money. Even so, God works in mysterious ways. We’ll see where this takes us.

In truth, I am very excited about the book. I’ve been waiting for many months for the foreword to be completed by His Grace, the Grand Mufti of Syria. I received that forward in Arabic a few weeks ago and I’ve subsequently had four translators working on it to give me the best possible English translation. I’m so proud of this forward that I can’t resist sharing a part of it with you today. I’ve published an excerpt here. My sincere and deep thanks to my esteemed brother, Dr Hassoun, the Mufti – a man I deeply admire and pray for every day. May God’s peace rest upon him and strengthen him as he shoulders the task of rebuilding his country.

In terms of my hopes for staying financial, my primary hope is actually that I will land a big fight in the near future. I appreciate that 58 is not normally considered the ideal age for a professional boxer. Even so, I figure that being ancient also makes me a novelty, and the truth is that I have never been fitter, stronger or faster. I’m not sure how to explain that except that I believe it is God’s way of telling me to keep on punching.

Of course, the first step to getting a big fight is getting a fight, and the Combat Sports Authority (CSA) has made that very difficult for me. I took the CSA to the Administrative Tribunal (thGloves of God bannede poor man’s version of court) after they prohibited my last fight in my hometown – stopping me an hour before I was due to go on. Unfortunately, the case was ultimately dismissed on a technicality. The Daily Telegraph published an article about that last weekend (click the pic for a more readable version)

My plan was to fight in Port Moresby again next month, which was part of an attempt to draw attention again to the plight of asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea, this time with the backing of Amnesty International. Even so, travel restrictions currently being implemented by the government will mean that I have to abandon that plan for the moment.

Even so, I’ve also got ‘Wild Bill’ Kimbacher wanting to rematch me in northern Queensland where the NSW-based CSA can’t reach me. Bill has even put together a video challenge (which you can see here). That will be a tough fight. I trust that these virus fears won’t stop the bout happening.

From there … Syria again perhaps (when travel restrictions lighten up) or perhaps they’ll let me fight in Sydney again by then? Time will tell. Pray for me though please – pray that the Lord will open the doors I need opened and that I get my shot at a brighter future.

Sermon Time

I’m including today my sermon on Jesus’ encounter with an unnamed woman that He met at a well in Samaria, as narrated to us in the Gospel of John, chapter four. It’s a story that I found myself identifying with in many ways, and I did share a lot that is personal in this sermon.

Henri Nouwen pointed out that it was only when Jesus shared his wounds with His disciples that healing began. Nouwen saw this as the model for the priest/preacher. I had hoped that this sermon might lead to healing too. Time will tell. Click below, or get the written version here.

In terms of what’s on, everything is in turmoil due to new regulations coming down in response to the virus. April 19 is still the key day for me – the day when I hand over leadership of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill to Father Hugh Isaacs. Whether I’ll be able or organise anything special for that day, or whether we’ll even be meeting is now uncertain. I’ll keep you up-to-date, but if we can do something, we will do something, and we do do something, you are invited. 🙂

I’ll finish off today by adding a few extra videos below:

  1. Wild Bill’s Kimbacher’s fight challenge (4 minutes)
  2. My speech at a recent rally for Julian Assange (4 minutes)
  3. Episode four of Revved UP! (45 minutes)!





May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Things have got to change

Christmas is on its way! 🙂
The numbers supporting Julian grow daily!
The numbers supporting Julian grow daily!
The numbers supporting Julian grow daily!
with Superhero, Jennifer Robinson - Julian's lawyer
Alex wins yet another Karate tournament!
Nestor fights for the title
Nestor fights for the title


Hi Fighter,

It will be a quick one today as I’m weary after another round with the Combat Sports Authority (CSA).

The CSA is the government body that oversees all combat sports, including boxing. Unfortunately, my stoush with them is a legal one. It’s over the prohibition they placed on my fight last March.

In case you don’t know the story, the CSA had approved my fight against Jason Mac Gura some weeks before it was scheduled but then reversed their decision at the last minute – issuing a probation order just an hour before I was due to go on!

They gave no reason. They communicated their decision to the promoter via an email. I tried calling them to get the decision reversed, or at least to find out what the problem was. I got nothing. Given that I had 50 supporters there, many paying upwards of $200 per ticket to watch me fight, the CSA’s action left everyone out of pocket and me without credibility. I haven’t been able to fight in my home state since!

I was hoping that today I’d have my day in court. I had taken the case to the Administrative Tribunal, rather than to the regular court, as it only costs $100 to go to the Tribunal and I simply can’t afford anything else. I had all my points prepared and I really thought I’d be able to convince the judge to order the CSA not to treat me like this again, and perhaps to even give us some compensation that I could put back into our work. Unfortunately, the CSA instead asked that the case be dismissed on a technicality. According to their legal team, if the CSA cancels my fight on LESS than 24 hours’ notice, they cannot be taken to the Tribunal. Go figure!

Anyway, the judge told them to put their dismissal case in writing and to send it to me so that I have a right of reply. Of course, I wouldn’t have a clue how to respond to this, though dismissing the case because I was NOT given any notice seems radically unjust! So … if there are any legal eagles out there who’d like to give me advice on this one, I’d love to hear from you.

Social Justice Theatre

On a brighter note, this coming Saturday – November 23rd – we’ll be holding the first of our Social Justice Theatre screenings in our church hall. Our focus this time will be on Palestine, which this week took another big hit when the US government decided that the illegal occupation of Palestinian land was no longer illegal. Again … go figure!

We’ll be screening Budrus – an award-winning feature documentary film about Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites Palestinian political factions and invites Israeli supporters to join an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.

We’ll begin with coffee and snacks at 5.30 pm and start the actual film no later than 6 pm. That will make it easy to do dinner afterwards for any who are interested. More details are on the Facebook event page (here).

If you can’t make it this week, our second screening will be a fortnight later – December 7th. I haven’t got the title for the movie that night but it will be about our brother, Julian Assange, and we’ll have Julian’s dad, John, with us for the evening.

That evening may be a big one, as support for Julian is definitely growing! I attended a meeting at the University of Technology (UTS) last Friday where Julian’s lawyer – Jennifer Robinson – was interviewed. It was a full house!

I’m not sure why we’ve had such a surge of support.  Is it because the alleged rape allegations in Sweden have finally been shown to be a ruse? Are people concerned about the inhumanity of Julian’s treatment? Has the penny finally dropped with regards to the impact it will have on humanity if everyone who reports a crime committed by someone powerful is imprisoned and tortured? Maybe it’s a combination of the above, along with a healthy respect for the importance of free speech? I’m not sure, but I am sure that support is growing, and I’m praying that it will grow into an enormous wave that will sweep across this country and bring significant change.

Put it in your diary – same time, same place.

Sermon Time

I’ve given a few sermons since my last communication. I’ve decided today to share one entitled, “Love is forever. Marriage isn’t”. This is not a commentary on my personal struggles but a reflection on Jesus’ argument with a group of religious academics about marriage and the resurrection. In the end, the dialogue isn’t really about marriage at all but about the new and beautiful future that God has planned for our world. I hope you’ll find this encouraging, whatever you are struggling with. Click below for the video, or read the written version here.

In closing, thank you for your prayers for Bob – our caretaker at Binacrombi. Our dear brother is doing much better – in body, and certainly in spirits.

It was a horrible accident. The car blew a front tire on a remote dirt road and it rolled. Tragically, Bob had the window down and his arm resting on the outside of the door, and the car rolled on to his arm! Thanks to the wonders of modern surgery, we remain hopeful that Bob will regain full use of the arm. Keep praying.

That’s all for now. I hope to see you Saturday night if you’re in the vicinity. Either way, let me know what sorts of films/subjects you think we should be covering in our future Social Justice Theatre sessions. I’d love to hear from you.

Yours in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Not Happy

Making weight for the fight that never happened
Making weight for the fight that never happened
Making weight for the fight that never happened
my darling girl, Imogen, gets through to the finals of Miss World, Australia
my darling girl, Imogen, gets through to the finals of Miss World, Australia
my darling girl, Imogen, gets through to the finals of Miss World, Australia
the boys in black are back!


Hi Fighter,

It’s Dave, touching base again, and this week I’m not happy.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and I know I have a lot to be thankful for – a healthy family, supportive friends, and a wonderful church community. Even so, when my fight was cancelled last Friday night just before I was due to go on, I felt deeply dejected.

For those who don’t know the story, my fight against Jason Mac Gura had been scheduled for about a month. All the paperwork had been completed, medicals done, blood tests, etc. All the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed.

On Thursday, March 21st, I made weight, coming in at 75.7 kilos, meaning that I’d successfully lost four kilos in the six weeks of training leading up to the fight. I was in great shape! I turned up to the venue on the Friday night feeling confident and ready. Then the promoter told me that he’d just received an email from the Combat Sports Authority (CSA), saying that my fight had been prohibited from going ahead!

I saw the email myself. No explanation was given. The officials at the venue guessed that the prohibition might have been due to the age-gap between myself and my opponent, or it might have had something to do with the head injury I sustained a year ago (from which I was subsequently completely cleared). Either way, the on-site officials were guessing. It wasn’t their call. They and the promoter were apologetic. The responsibility lay solely with the board of the CSA, none of whom were at the event.

Around fifty people had turned up to support me on the night. Many of them had paid more than $200 per ticket. Most were not boxing fans but believed in me and in our work. Understandably, some wanted their money back. I didn’t have the money to refund them with. When you don’t’ fight, you don’t’ get paid. I’d been hoping to raise funds through the fight to fund our next mission to Syria. In the case of my opponent, the fight’s cancellation meant he couldn’t pay his rent!

What were they thinking – the bureaucrats who blocked my fight at the last minute? My guess is that it had something to do with the recent death of an Australian boxer. They were probably worried about the legal ramifications if I got hurt.

In truth, these people had far more reason to be worried about my opponent than about me, and they had medical professionals at the event anyway – there to deal with any problems that might arise. To cancel the event via email, after everybody had paid their money and taken their seats, seems like an act of irresponsible cowardice to me, and I’m not going to simply take this one on the chin (so to speak).

I wrote to the CSA, asking them politely for $20,000 compensation so that I could refund my friends the cost of their tickets, pay my opponent, and put something towards the next Boxers for Peace mission to Syria. They haven’t replied. My guess is that they won’t reply. The next step is to proceed against them legally and/or to get the media involved. I’m open to your advice and support in both of these areas. If you’re a legal person and you’re willing to help, or if you’d like to help me promote this issue in the media, let me know.

In truth, this is not just about me, and I am by no means the only person who has been disenfranchised by the CSA in recent times. Indeed, friends in the industry have been asking me for some time to get involved in order to save our sport.

The problem, as I see it, is that the persons now governing boxing are not boxing experts or necessarily even boxing fans! They are government officials who find themselves on the board of the Combat Sports Authority en route to bigger and better portfolios. I see little to suggest that these people care much about the sport or the people involved.

Perhaps I am being overly harsh? In truth, it’s hard to know what is really going on behind the closed doors of the CSA when they won’t talk to me. My only way forward is to keep agitating until I get some sort of response.

OK … I had been hoping to share a video with you today of my fight with Mac Gura. Obviously, I can’t do that now. Instead, you’ll find below a video of my last fight in Sydney – ‘Fighting’ Father Dave vs. ‘Wild’ Bill Kinbacher on November 17, 2018.

The video was recorded from the hat-cam of my cornerman (the mighty George Plellis) and has only just been made public. The hat-cam perspective means that you see exactly what George was looking at, and it brings you right up-close to the action.

Sermon Time

If you’re hoping for a bit of light relief at this point, I apologise. It’s Lent, and the theme of our Gospel reading last Sunday was ‘Repent or Die’! Proceed if you dare. The sermon video can be found below the fight video.


Time for another Warriors’ Weekend

If you’re feeling as worked up as I am, you may be glad to know that we have another Warriors’ Weekend scheduled for only a couple of weeks’ time. It’s another bush adventure from April 12 to 14 where we train like Trojans and pray like monks.

If you haven’t seen what we get up to, check out the one-minute video documentary that was done on our Warrior Weekend last year.  We run, box, immerse ourselves in freezing water, and have an all-round good time.

The cost for the weekend is $200 for the rich, $100 for the poor and free for the destitute. If you’re interested, let me know via a comment on this page and I’ll get all the details to you.  If you can afford the full cost, all the better. Funds from the fight might have helped subsidise the camp but … (let’s not go back there …)

Either way, no one has ever been turned away from one of our camps because they couldn’t afford it. If you’d like to come, just let me know. We’d love to have you join us.

That’s all for now. Keep me in your prayers as I do you.

Yours in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four