AUSTRALIA: Johnny Famechon, a legendary boxer from Australia, passed away at 77. Famechon was honoured in 1985 by being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
In his native Frankston, Victoria, a bronze statue of Famechon was installed in 2018. Famechon was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for his contributions to boxing at the highest level.
Famechon: King of Moomba
Born Jean-Pierre Famechon in France, he immigrated with his family to Australia at age five.
Famechon, who is the nephew of a French and European featherweight champion and the son of a lightweight boxing champion, followed in their footsteps by forgoing amateur boxing to enter the professional ranks at the age of 16.
The media referred to him as “the classiest fighter in Australia” because of his rapid movements, clever boxing, and strong defence.
He would collect a record of 56 victories (20 by knockout), six ties, and five losses during the course of a nine-year career.
For the Victorian featherweight championship in 1964, Famechon defeated Les Dunn. Later, in 1967, he won the Australian and Commonwealth titles.
Famechon faced Cuban boxer, Jose Legra, at London’s Albert Hall and defeated him by a narrow margin of points to win the title of undisputed world featherweight champion in 1969, sharing it with fellow Australian Lionel Rose.
Famechon would successfully defend the title against Fighting Harada of Japan, a former world champion at the flyweight and bantamweight weight classes, twice. Rose had defeated Harada to win the latter title.
The referee first declared the first fight to be a draw before declaring Famechon the winner. He would defeat the Mexican Vicente Saldivar in the rematch, which he would win by knockout in the early 1970s, before quitting boxing later that year.
He was named Melbourne’s ‘King of Moomba’ in 1970. Due to his stellar career, he soon became a household name.
Prior to his 1997 induction into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, he sustained permanently disabling injuries in 1991 while jogging when he was struck by a car.
Barry Michael, a former world boxing champion, said Famechon beat the odds to win the championship in London.
“It was the universal world title then,” Michael said.
“To beat Jose Legra, Famo was a huge underdog, and then he went and beat him convincingly.”
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