By David McPherson
Australia’s most successful Commonwealth Games boxer almost didn’t qualify for the 1962 Perth British Empire Games – where he defended his light-heavyweight title and won his second Commonwealth gold.
Tony Madigan was living and fighting abroad in America when he decided to return to Australia to compete.
“Australian British Empire Games gold medalist Tony Madigan will pay his own fare from America to defend his own light-heavyweight at the Empire Games in Perth,” a Canberra Times article at the time said.
“He announced his intention to return in a letter to his mother recently… He intends leaving New York by ship next month.”
To qualify for the Games Madigan needed to compete in the New South Wales championships. It was left to his mother to make sure he had a place in the event. The Canberra Times explained the situation.
“Secretary of the Amateur Boxing Association, Mr Arthur Tunstall, said last night that Madigan would have to lodge his entry for the State titles tomorrow or miss out on the Australian titles and the Empire Games.”
“Mr. Tunstall said he had tried unsuccessfully for over a week to communicate with Madigan.”
An Australian United Press reporter tracked down Madigan’s mother and explained the situation to her – allowing her to lodge Madigan’s entry. Madigan knew nothing about the impending cut-off date and was scheduled to arrive back in Australia on the morning of the championships.
The championships were an eventful with the then 32-year-old suffering a clash of heads in the semi-final that resulted in a one and a half inch gash under his left eye.
Madigan received five stitches in the wound at the Sydney hospital before fighting in the final.
Newspaper reports were not glowing in review of his efforts.
“Several months of soft living in America and a rush to get home last week have left him well below his top condition,” the Canberra Times said.
“Madigan tonight was not the same fighter as when he last fought in Sydney nearly two years ago.”
Despite some of the nylon stitches coming loose in the fight, Madigan had no trouble in dispatching farm hand Athol McQueen in the final of the event.
Competing in his third Commonwealth Games, Madigan was given the honour of being Australia’s flag bearer.
“There is no better pillar of amateurism than Tony Madigan,” Australian team manager Edgar Tanner said.
Madigan didn’t let his country down, winning Australia’s 32nd gold on points against Ghana’s Jogo Miles.
Miles matched Madigan for the first two rounds of the bout before the experienced Australian sensed danger and pulled away in the third.