Home Games History: Indigenous Trailblazers

By David McPherson


A spring-heeled ‘Boy from Bourke’ and a boxer with a missing finger won two of Australia’s record-breaking 38 gold at the 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games.

High-jumper Percy Hobson and boxer Jeff ‘Mitta’ Dynevor were Australia’s first Indigenous Commonwealth Games gold medalists.

Hobson became the first of the two men to stand atop the podium when he won the men’s high jump against highly-fancied opponents with a leap of 2.08m.

His improvement ahead of the Games was as rapid as it was remarkable.

Hobson recorded a 12th-place finish and a jump of 1.75m at the 1961 Australian Championships, while training mainly in his backyard in his hometown Bourke.

By March of the next year the ‘shy and unassuming’ Hobson had defeated all his rivals to win the Australian Championships ahead of the Perth Games.

With the Games trials in sight, Hobson was spending time in Sydney readying himself to compete against a talented field of Australian jumpers.

Australian record-holder Colin Ridgway, 1956 Olympic silver medalist Chilla Porter and Victorian Tony Sneazwell led the field of competitors jumping at the trials.

Hobson secured his ticket to Perth with a jump of 2.03m and second-place finish to Sneazwell.

It was Porter who gave Hobson his stiffest competition in Perth, with the two men the last remaining athletes with the bar set at 2.08m.

The Bourke butcher cleared the mark on his final attempt to clinch the gold and his status as Australia’s first Indigenous gold medalist at the Games.


High jump medal winners (from left) Charles Porter (Australia), silver medal; Percy Hobson (Australia), gold; Anton Norris (Barbados), bronze.


Bantamweight boxer Dynevor joined Adrian Blair and Eddie Barney as one of three Aboriginal boxers at the Games – with all hailing from Queensland. Barney’s father Eddie Gilbert is known for bowling Sir Donald Bradman out for a duck with what the Don described as the fastest bowling he ever faced.

Dynevor defeated Ghana’s Samuel Abbey in the bantamweight final – all without the use of one of his fingers which he lost in a workplace accident.

Dynevor said he injured the finger at the Cherbourg joinery and didn’t bother with surgery after the incident – rather cutting off the tip with a pair of scissors.