Fighting on

He’s familiar to many as the plumber’s grumpy dad in the hit movie, Kenny. Ron Jacobson had other roles when not training young boxers to fight. Nathan Konstantinidis reports on a veteran coach about to hang up his gloves.

Boxing trainer Ron Jacobson has been coaching for 52 years and now faces the problem of finding someone to continue his legacy at Maribyrnong Boxing Club.

Jacobson, 80, who has acted in films including Kenny in 2006 starring his youngest son, Shane, and directed by his eldest, Clayton, has been coaching at his beloved club since his late twenties, having joined the club in 1963 to get fit for football and umpiring.

Head trainer Max Prescude approached Jacobson because he had prior boxing experience as a teenager, and appointed him assistant coach of the club.

Jacobson said, “Max told me that TV Ringside (a Channel 7 boxing program hosted by sports broadcaster Ron Casey) is about to kick off and he would like me to help look after the fighters while preparing for their fights.

“So I actually got into training by mistake. I originally came to the club to get fit for umpiring and 52 years later I’m still here.”

The most successful boxer to emerge from the gym under Jacobson’s tutelage was Michael Karpany, a leading contender for the Australian welterweight championship in 1973.

Approaching his ninth decade, Jacobson continues to open the boxing gym and devote his free time to the duties of head trainer – and he is always last to leave.

Why doesn’t he hang up his gloves? It’s all because of “the great pleasure of seeing young people improve in the sport”.

But, as time wears on, Jacobson realises he cannot continue being head coach forever. He is now thinking about the future of the club and is looking for key figures that could keep the club on top for the next 50 years.

“We have a lot of loyal people in this club. It’s all about choosing who is best to lead and coach our members,” Jacobson said.

Mr Jacobson was not pessimistic about the outcome of his search: “There are so many great people here (at the gym) who are capable to continue our fighting tradition and technique.

“As I look into the future of this club I have no doubt that this gym will continue its success because of the loyalty and consistency of our members.”