Down but not Out

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at the airport with my trainer - the one and only, Tony O'Loughlin
the weigh-in
the weigh-in
after the fight is over - still mates
after the fight is over - still mates
holidaying with Fran on the Gold Coast
holidaying with Fran on the Gold Coast
holidaying with Fran on the Gold Coast
A big weekend at Binacrombi with the Bankstown Bulls
A big weekend at Binacrombi with the Bankstown Bulls

Hi Fighter,

I’m beginning this newsletter a little late. Indeed, I am on-board a flight to the Gold Coast with my wonderful daughter, Francesca, for a three-day holiday at Seaworld on the Gold Coast!

This trip was originally planned for this time last year – timed to coincide with the end of my term as parish priest in Dulwich Hill. That holiday was cancelled due to the lockdowns and was rescheduled for Christmas. The Christmas holiday was likewise cancelled due to lockdowns and was pushed forward to now and … here we are! 😊

I find myself sighing as we head off on this long-overdue holiday. This break had initially been planned as our silver lining in the midst of the storm of family breakdown and job loss. That silver lining was eclipsed by the dark clouds of COVID. It has been such a difficult twelve months, only made bearable by the support I’ve received from so many friends, and one of those supportive friends was ‘Wild’ Bill Kinbacher – the man who beat the crap out of me last Saturday night in Toowoomba.

Yes, I lost my big fight. It was a split decision, meaning that one of the three judges thought I won but the other two gave the fight to Bill. You can’t get any closer than that, and I’m still a little sore about the fight (literally) as I took quite a few shots in the back of the head and the kidneys. The judge warned Bill twice about the back-of-the-head shots but he missed the kidney shots, and that’s where I’m still feeling the pain two weeks later.

Having said  that, I take nothing away from Bill, who totally earned his win. He and his trainer studied all my fights and developed a strategy for shutting me down and, frankly, it worked pretty well. Moreover, Bill’s fitness was phenomenal! I always count on tiring my opponents out and, given the pace Bill maintained throughout our four rounds, Tony (my trainer) and I really thought he was going to tire by the last round. That didn’t happen. He was relentless right up to the final bell!

So that’s one win each for me and Bill, meaning that we need to fight a decider. I don’t want to fight on his turf again (in Queensland) and he’d prefer not to fight again in Sydney. The obvious solution is to fight the decider in Syria. Let’s see if we can’t make that happen. 😊

The Fight Continues

I mentioned in my last missive too that a protest had been scheduled outside Saint Andrews’ Cathedral in Sydney for the morning after my fight, calling for my reinstatement as parish priest in Dulwich Hill. The protest was organised by the Australian Communist Party (ACP), and that still makes me smile. In truth, the key ACP guys are local people in Dulwich Hill, and a number are members of our boxing club. Our connection, in other words, is community-based and not purely ideological, though the ACP do see me as an outspoken opponent of Imperialism, and I hope I am.

I was fascinated to receive a debrief of the protest a day after it took place. Apparently, members of the Cathedral community had been keen to point out to the protestors that this was my second marital breakdown during my 30 year tenure in Dulwich Hill – the first being in 1991 and the second in 2018. Their point was that I was evidently a total loser, and that I was lucky that the church had kept me on as long as they did!, Decent people don’t experience marital breakdown, and certainly not twice!

It seems extraordinary to me that otherwise intelligent people can only have only one criteria for judging the success or failure of a relationship. If a couple separate, their marriage was a failure. If they stay together, till death do them part, it is a success, regardless of how much misery or violence the relationship might have generated.

I remember hearing one man speaking of how his grandmother’s marriage had been ‘saved by her death’. “She hated the bastard”, he said, “but never had the courage to leave him”, so at her funeral everybody spoke of how they courageously ‘stuck it out’ together. If she had left him, they would have spoken of the marriage as a failure.

It is time we grew up and stopped trivializing human relationships through these sorts of simplistic judgements. No relationship that lasts for 25 years and generates three children and a lifetime of memories can be written off as a simple fail. To do so trivialises all human relationships!

Personally, I think that Proverbs 24:16 is a far better starting-point for the Biblically minded in these matters – “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again”  It’s a verse that beautifully parallels the old Zen Buddhist saying, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. Are these sayings about boxing or about human relationships? They are about all of life. All of life is a struggle – a fight. You get knocked down you get up again, and you keep going, right up to the final bell.

Apparently, the protestors outside the Cathedral couldn’t get anybody to accept their petition, calling for the “reform of the Church’s policy”  and demanding that “Father Dave receive just compensation for all the work he has done over the years.”  The petition had 872 signatures last time I checked. I didn’t expect it to achieve much, but I didn’t expect that the church would refuse to read it either! Oh well … we get knocked down, we get up again …

He has risen indeed!

All this talk of falling and rising again seems very appropriate when we’ve just celebrated Easter! This year the lectionary gave us Mark’s version of the resurrection narrative, which I love, as it’s a resurrection narrative with no resurrection! Unlike the other Gospel accounts, Jesus makes no appearance in Mark’s narrative! Rumors are spreading that Jesus is back on the scene, but this only makes the disciples confused and afraid!

We suspect that there was an early portion of Mark’s Gospel, dealing with Jesus’ resurrection appearances, that has been lost., and so the Gospel that we have only gives us this scene of the church running around in confusion. It’s a beautifully contemporary image, and reminds me of Karl Barth’s humbling depiction of the church as being no more than “the crater reflecting the impact of the coming of Jesus in history.” Sometimes that impact leaves us a bit stunned!

I had more to say about Mark’s Gospel in the Sunday Eucharist last weekend but you’ll have to plough through a bit more boxing if you want to reach it. 😉

I mentioned last time that I’m relaunching the member site at  and I’m deeply grateful to each of you who signed up in response. This is my attempt to make a fresh start in my life and ministry, and I deeply appreciate your support.

As mentioned, my goal is to get 100 people signed up at $10/month (level 1) and 10 people signed up at $100/month (level 2). This will give me enough to pay the rent and cover most of my expenses. So far we have ten people signed up at $10/month and two at $100/month. It’s a great start! 😊

Having said that, I don’t see many of you new members using the site yet. That may be because there are parts of it that aren’t functioning properly, or perhaps it’s because the platform isn’t user-friendly enough, or perhaps there’s another reason. Please give me some feedback.

I really want to build our member site into a dynamic community forum where we can share our passions and insights without fear of censor (something that is becoming increasingly difficult these days).

If you haven’t signed up yet, please consider joining the team here.

That will do for this newsletter. I started writing on  Monday, en route to the Gold Coast. I’m finishing on Saturday, after helping run a two-day fitness camp at Binacrombi for 45 boys from the Bankstown Bulls rugby league football club! Life can still be hectic, even when you don’t have a job!

I’ll hope to catch you for this weeks’ Saturday night Bush Bash and for our Bush Eucharist at midday on Sunday. Both events live streamed, from the Binacrombi Facebook page and the Father Dave Facebook page, respectively.

Until then, keep me in your prayers please, as I do you.

Your brother in the Good Fight


About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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