We don’t believe that Bendigo ever travelled outside of the British mainland, although many of his fellow prize-fighters did, often to the United States or Australia. All of Bendigo’s fights took place in England, so we decided to take ‘Bendy’ with us on a trip to County Cork in Ireland.
‘Bendy’ is our maquette (a small statue) of him. It was produced by renowned sculptor Andrew Edwards and it always attracts attention whenever it is displayed.
Prior to the trip, we got in touch with one of Ireland’s top middleweights and Corkonian, Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. Gary is a fine ambassador for Irish Boxing and we are grateful for the welcome he gave us.
Brian Dillon’s Boxing Club
We asked Gary to arrange a visit to one of Cork’s boxing clubs and he chose Brian Dillon’s Boxing Club, where he used to train. It turned out to be the perfect link to connect us, as it already had a Nottingham connection. Roy Keane used to box there, before his football career took off at Nottingham Forest in 1990. The name Brian Dillon relates to a contemporary of Bendigo too. The club is not named after its founder, but is in memory of a local 19th century republican who campaigned and fought for Irish independence. Dillon, like Bendigo, was born into a time of political injustice and both rose up to the challenge.
Brian Dillon was born on the Rathcooney Road in Cork in 1830. His republican activity got him imprisoned in an English prison. He was five years into his ten year sentence when he died in 1872. He was just 42 years of age.
He us considered a patron of Irish independence in the Cork area and Brian Dillon’s Boxing Club was set up in 1981 at premises used by the GAA Club as a meeting room on Stream Hill near Dillons Cross.
Over the years the club has produced many outstanding boxers who have won numerous County, Munster and, All-Ireland titles. Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan being one. Between 2009 and 2017, held multiple middleweight championships at regional level including the Irish title. He also acted and performed stunts in the 2007 film Strength and Honour.
On our visit to Brian Dillon’s Boxing Club, we presented them with some copies of our Heritage Booklet and let the young boxers admire ‘Bendy’ the maquette.
After our visit, we toured the coastal area of West Cork, taking ‘Bendy’ with us of course.
Here he is at Kinsale
Now at Baltimore
Any trip to Cork means a visit to Blarney Castle, where those that kiss the Blarney stone are supposedly endowed with the ‘gift of the gab’ or great eloquence. Something that Bendigo was certainly skilled at.