Brownsville Blacksmith – The Story of William Beach, Champion Oarsman of the World by Yvonne Downes | Hardback
It didn't take long after European settlement for the young Australia to find an international sporting superstar.
In August 1884 – eight years before Sheffield Shield competition began, 12 years before the founding of the modern Olympics and 17 years before Australian federation – a shy young man raised on the shores of Lake Illawarra became the sculling champion of the world.
In the days before organised team sports, sculling was hugely popular. When the young bloke named William “Bill” Beach, raised in Albion Park, NSW, flexed his blacksmith’s muscles and challenged the visiting Canadian world sculling champion, Edward Hanlan, more than 100,000 people watched the race on the Parramatta River, and hailed a new world champion.
Bill Beach would never lose the title, defending it several times in Australia and in the UK. Australia has become a great sporting nation, but perhaps only Walter Lindrum, Don Bradman and Heather McKay have dominated a sport in the way Bill Beach dominated sculling.
The story of this exceptionally humble hero – who would have traded all sporting glory for a quiet time at home with his family – is beautifully told in this book by one of that family. Yvonne Downes, Bill Beach’s great-grand-daughter, has recreated the life of a great man from the intimate viewpoint of an insider.
All profits from the sale of this book will go towards the restoration of Bill Beach’s gravesite
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