This is a transcription of a report written by Rosemary Roberts for the Sports section of some New Zealand newspaper, probably around 1970.

Old champ still fighting fit

Blith, quick-witted, as fit as years in the bush and gumfields could make him, Teddy Sanderson won the 1907 New Zealand amateur featherweight boxing championship in a canter.

Now 98 years old [this is an error, he died at 96 years of age] and the same man in spirit he looks back on a brief but memorable career in the ring with amusement and relish.

"I don't say for a moment I was the best fighter in the land," Mr Sanderson says modestly. "But I will say this. There wasn't one who had the intestinal fortitude to come forth and prove I wasn't."

What happened was, somewhat to his chagrin then and now, the reputation he made in Auckland before and after winning the Auckland championship in 1905 preceded him to Wellington and apparently caused him to win the national title by default.

Mr Sanderson recalls that he won the Auckland championship with three fights that lasted in all about six minutes.

"A record that boxers of all times might envy," he says less modestly. "One that might make Cassius Clay scratch his head in wonder."

He gave up boxing in 1906 but found himself drawn to try again the folowing year --- "the urge to see if I could do the same as I did in 1905 was irresistable."

The ensuing events are pungently described in some notes he made recently of his early life.

"On the same night as the Auckland championships, Wellington was staging a contest between Bob Turner of Australia and Jim Tracy of New Zealand and they asked Auckland to send down their best featherweight. They selected me.

"When Henry Donovan, who was eager to make the trip (I wasn't and would sooner have boxed in the Auckland championships) was asked to fight me to show his mettle and form, he said, "Not on your life, once in a lifetime is enough with that guy."

"Billy Hogan, the gold-field champion replaced Henry and told of the awful things he would do to me. I thought hard on the night and hit harder than usual and stopped Billy in the second round and with the loss of three of his front teeth.

Daylight robbery

"Now I'm in Wellington. Billy Crawford, the Wellington champ, and myself to fight Gould and Trezise, South Island's best feathers, each contest on six rounds duration.

"I meet Gould and lost the contest on points, Crawford losing to Trezise (this being a clash between north and south) and Trezise beats his mate Gould in a final. All fights go to the limit, six rounds. Trezise had an unbeaten record.

"The aftermath! Definitely we was robbed. When a friend of mine said he would back me for 50 quid on the morrow, Trezises manager said we are not professionals.' And that was that.

"There was no opposition, verbally or otherwise, when I was selected as Auckland's featherweight for the new Zealand championships to be held in Auckland a couple of weeks after my unfortunate Wellington defeat.

"Boxers from all over New Zealand were assembled here, some divisions being really too overcrowded for the best results. But the featherweights must have flown away to regions unknown for there were only two, Trezise (South Island) and myself (North Island).

"That it would be a duel between Trezise and myself suited me, but I must have made Alf (Trezise) and his party feel somewhat iffy. He had refused to meet me in Wellington but to reach his goal of New Zealand champion he was compelled to fight me. Aside: the official record shows that Alf forbidden by his doctor to appear

"Had there been more entrants, I might have been defeated, thus he might have reached his goal without meeting me at all. At the weigh-in I was a few ounces overweight and my prospective opponent's weight was just right. My opponent and his manager said the weight must come off.

"Briefly I got the weight off and a little later was heading for the ring when Dr Brockway who was playing cards in the room close-by said he would lay me 1000 quid to 1 quid that I would be New Zealand champion that night.

"It didn't make sense and I asked, `what for that?' and he said that my opponent was in bed, `he's not really sick, he's just got cold feet.' I told the doctor the bet was off.

"When the president of the boxing club congratulated me on my bloodless victory, I said I would have sooner had a little blood in it."

After the bloodless victory of 1907 Mr Sanderson did little boxing apart from some coaching. He married, settled on a farm in Mata near Whangereri, and there raised a family.

Quiz session

One of his sons, Mr W Sanderson, of Okaihau, recalling his childhood, speaks of the extreme fitness of his father. Mr Sanderson sen. he says, used to haul himself hand-over-hand up the long smooth trunks of kauris without the aid of spiked boots, and when the road was impassable would row 15 miles down harbour to Whangerei to collect supplies for the family. At 70 he had a job with the Whangerei County Council shovelling metal, and before last summer was still gardening for several hours each day at the home of his son in Okaihau.

Mr Sanderson is not a man to be asked the usual questions often put to those who have attained great age.

The query, have you a philosophy? met with the reply, "Don't ask a hen to lay bricks, their nature is to lay eggs." "You won't get milk from a horse in the morning by covering it with a cow-cover at night."

Any advice? Was answered, "Yes! When right sit tight. When in doubt, sit on it and keep it warm."

What have you most enjoyed? --- "Hard work and hard hitting."

Mr Sanderson has a strong faith in God and looks forward to death with serenity and interest.

"I'm a bit like Noah's dove." he wisecracks. "Hovering between dark seas and stormy skies" --- and to his amusement his relations protest "That doesn't seem too good, which are we?"

He says to a reporter, "Are you my executioner or deliverer?" and readily dons a pair of boxing gloves (no one can persuade him to remove his hat) for a photograph.

Though he nearly falls over in his excitement, the old eyes dance, the fists are raised in fighting pose.

"Come on, come on," he says, "Let me put you all to sleep!"


Edward (Teddy) Young Sanderson was my grandfather. Born: 5 May 1876, Died: evening Tuesday 9 November 1971.

And yes, he did teach me boxing but I was never any good at it.

E.Y.S Original
The fifth of May is my birthday
And now the years are ninety,
Up hill and down- much change of years
No need of any fags or beers.