"I wish I was good at piano or something... but I was good at boxing," is what Bill Booth told the crowd at the 2019 Gloucester Sports Star Awards.
During the event, he was acknowledged for his past sporting achievements, which included representing Australia as a bantamweight boxer at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
As he stood in the Gloucester Soldiers Club auditorium in his green Olympic blazer, he retold the story of his one and only fight at the games.
"There was blood pouring into my eye, so the referee stopped the fight," Bill explained.
He was up against Cuban boxer, Fermin Espinosa in a match he remembers being ahead on in points. But his Olympic medal aspirations were smashed when he lost in a Referee Stopped Contest (RSC).
Leading up to this moment, Bill (known then as Billy), had a pretty stellar boxing career and entered the games ranked number one in the 10 man Australian boxing troupe.
According to his daughter, Gemma Brenton, Bill got into boxing after being told he had asthma.
"The doctor suggested a sport like swimming or even taking up the trumpet," Gemma said. "Instead he began boxing at the (Belmore) Police Boys Club."
According to Bill, he took up boxing after having been in a few brawls in the streets.
"I wanted to be able to stand up for himself," he smiled.
At 13-years-old he took to boxing enthusiastically, launching a successful junior career before stepping into the ring as a senior in 1960 at 16-years-old.
One of Bill's earliest bouts was a loss on points to Rocky Gattellari, who went on to box professionally and was beaten by Lionel Rose for the Australian bantamweight title in 1967.
It wasn't long before Bill became the talk of the amateur circuit.
On October 15, 1962, he knocked out Eddie Barney (Australian flyweight champion) at Kingaroy, Queensland, then defeated Jeff Dynevor (Australian bantamweight champion) in Sydney two days later on October 17, 1962. From there, Bill went on to win the NSW amateur bantamweight championship - in 1963, 64 and 65, as well as the Australian bantamweight championships in 1963 and 64.
But 1964 was Bill's big year. His most memorable fight was in March, when a team of seven Japanese boxers visited Sydney. Bill took a lot of satisfaction in defeating fellow southpaw, Takao Sakurai in front of 5000 spectators.
"I got knocked down and when I got back up, it brought the roof down. Then I gave him his," Bill smiled.
Also in 1964, Bill came up against Lionel Rose for the Australian amateur bantamweight title in a match held at Festival Hall in Melbourne, where Rose was a big name.
Bill won the title and with it, a spot on the Olympic team. The fight was reenacted in the 1990 two-part television series about Lionel called, Rose Against the Odds, in which Bill was played by Glen Williams.
He had not long turned 20-years-old when he entered the ring in Toyko to face his Cuban opponent; a fight he'll never forget.
"It was bloody terrible," he said about the RSC decision. "I broke down and cried.
"You feel as though you've let everyone down."
The gold medal went to Takao Sakurai, the same boxer he had defeated in Sydney earlier in the year.
"I never had blood during a fight. Only that one time," Bill said.
Bill prides himself on never getting knocked out during any of his 89 fights, of which he won 78.
"I never got stopped," Bill explained having lost only in points.
It wasn't long after that Bill retired from boxing and picked up a career as a butcher, after completing an apprenticeship.
"I had met my future wife and discovered there were more things in life than boxing and training seven days a week," Bill admitted.
He did get a chance to look at a professional career in boxing, something he said his Dad wanted for him. He was approached with a financial offer to have a re-match with Lionel Rose, but after making a few enquirers Bill found out the dollar amount he was offered was only half of the original amount.
"My mum said if that's what the people are like, I shouldn't have anything to do with them," Bill recalled.
So he walked away, something he said he's regretted now and then over the years.
"I'd beat a lot of the fella who became professional and they made a lot of money," he said.
On September 11, 2000, Bill carried the Olympic torch on the 96th day of the relay ahead of the Sydney games. It was another Olympic memory to add to his collection, along with that of his opening ceremony march, which Dawn Fraser encouraged him to attend.
"She said, 'If you don't march at the opening ceremony, it's not going to the Olympics," Bill said.
Bill married Jacqueline and together they had two children, Gemma and Benjamin, and three grandchildren, Heidi, Cody and Mia. Bill and Jacqueline moved to Gloucester about eight years ago and in 2012, she passed away.
Today, Bill is a soft-spoken man who loves to share is boxing stories.
In his final ever match in 1965, Bill remembers taking on a sailor named, Bill Hobbs.
"I knocked him out in about a minute," Bill smiled. "He was a nice bloke. I liked him."
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