Thomas Alfred "Nutty" Fairhall (1901 - 1986)
- Welterweight Champion


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Nutty's family details are available in my family files.


It was a happy twist of fate that William's second son, Samuel, who died so tragically at Maitland Hospital in 1875, was to have a great-grandson whose boxing prowess ranked him among the greats of the Australian ring. He is Tommy ("Nutty") Fairhall, whose ring career started at the end of World War I and continued until 1932. He became as popular a ring idol in New Zealand as he was in the big stadiums of eastern Australia. A former Welterweight champion of Australia, his bulky album of news clippings of his career provide a bright and exciting chapter in the Fairhall saga.

Tommy (Thomas Alfred) was born at Raymond Terrace on 25 November 1901, son of John Henry Fairhall (1871-1950), a coalmining engineer and sometime farmer at Ash Island and adjacent areas. His father and mother (nee Lillian Adams, of Millers Forest) were married in the little church on the Windeyer estate at Tomago. He went to school at Tomago and grew up at Cessnock where he worked in the Aberdare Extended Coal mine.

His Early Boxing Career

At the time, Maitland's immortal Les Darcy was beating the world's best middleweights. Nearly every boy in the district wanted to be another Les Darcy, and Tommy was no exception. When boxing promoter George Ruenolf started a competition among Cessnock's young hopefuls, Tommy, who had not had a boxing lesson in his life, fronted for six bouts. He won them all. That was in 1918 - 1919. He was an immediate attraction. Without slogging his way up through preliminariess, he walked straight into 20-rounders - 10 in 1920 and 16 in 1921 - with spectacular success. He never looked back.

Fight History

Leading sports reporter Merv Williams, reviewing his career in The Sporting Globe (20.5.1970), wrote: "He was one of those rare people -- born to be a fighter." Ring experts rated him a freak. So began the career that made Tommy a featured topliner. In his first 50 fights, he had 43 victories. He never weighed much more than 9st. 13lb. (63kg) but mostly fought welterweights around the 10st. 7lb. mark. In fact, during most of his career, he gave away lots of weight.

The names of men he fought read like a boxing Who's Who in the two decades leading to the Depression, probably the toughest years in the fight game. Among them were Ernie Izzard and Harry Mason (England), Larry Avera, Jack Sparr and Tony Fielding (America), Billy Thomas, Jack Jones and Billy Nicholls (Hales), Eugene Volaire, Fern Quendreux (France), Sylvano Jamito (Philippines), Charlie Purdey (New Zealand), Willy Thomas, Bluey Jones, Norm Gillespie (holder of both featherweight and lightweight championships at different times), Havilah Uren, Harry Stone, Tod Morgan, Rus Critcher, Jimmy Kelso, Billy Grimes and Wally Hancock (welter champion). 0f the 113 fights he fought, he had 41 wins on points; won another 41 inside the distance; 21 defeats, nine draws and one no-contest.

His great assets were his superb ringcraft and stamina, elusiveness and skill, and his beautifully judged hitting and timing. When he defeated New Zealand lightweight champion, Les Murray at Timaru in 1923, the fight was acclaimed, "one of the most scientific exhibitions of boxing ever seen in New Zealand".
Probably his most thrilling bout was when he outpointed Wally Hancock to take the national welterweight title in 1930. The rafters of Leichhardt Stadium rang with the cheers of the 4,000 who stood for several minutes to applaud the decision. Afterwards, Tommy Fairhall and his wife went to New Zealand to live. He did not return to defend his title, and relinquished it.


During World War II, he fought in the Middle East with the New Zealand Army, and in later life returned to Sydney to run a barber shop at Petersham, living at nearby Stanmore until his death on 19 February 1986.

Tommy's youngest brother Alfred (there were five boys and three girls in the family) made his own niche in the sporting world in 1937 when he scored a staggering 61 points for Northern Newcastle in a Rugby League match against Morpeth-East Maitland. This consisted of 11 tries and 15 goals. It earned him a mention in the Guinness' Book of Records thay year.

* My Family - the Fairhalls by Thomas J. Fairhall (1981)

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This page was updated on: 9 September 2020