Bendigo’s namesake one out of the box

GLOBAL PR: Bendigo residents have been supporting a move to raise the profile of the British boxer who lent his name to the city.

GLOBAL PR: Bendigo residents have been supporting a move to raise the profile of the British boxer who lent his name to the city.

You’ll be happy to know the campaign to improve Bendigo’s image abroad continues, err, the boxer, not our city. 

Although it seems some in Bendigo (the place) are backing the push to do a PR makeover on Bendigo (the boxer).

As you would most likely know, Bendigo is probably named after the nickname of a local Ravenswood Run shepherd who was handy with his fists. The nickname came from Nottingham’s William Abednego Thompson, who became the bare-knuckle Champion of All England in 1839.

His middle name was abbreviated to Bendigo, and many in his native city of Nottingham feel he has been overlooked by history.

Most recall him as the youngest of 21(!) children who had a stellar bare-knuckle career before falling from grace and becoming a town drunk. He died by falling down some stairs.

In two years from 1835 he had three major triumphs in matches lasting 52, 51 and 92 rounds!

Here in Bendigo, we’re familiar with the standard image of him in posed fighting stance, but in Nottingham, the Bendigo Memorial Fund folk want a more realistic image cast in bronze and mounted in Nottingham’s Trinity Square.

They’ve been fundraising for nearly two years – with some bucks being flung from here – and we have to say the design for the statue makes old Bendigo Thompson a much more interesting bloke.

The Bendigo Memorial Fund touches on the Australian links: “A statue of Bendigo in Nottingham would represent more than just the man himself. It would represent the Bendigonians on the other side of the world (Australia) and it would show that you can come from the meanest street there is but still succeed and become a champion.”

Nottingham Council last week approved the statue – if someone else pays for it.

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It was also fascinating to watch the coverage of the 100th anniversary of the charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba, which is regarded as a major turning point in World War I.

For 100 years, Australians have pronounced it “Beer Sheba” as in, well, amber ale and Sheba as in “Queen of Sheba.”

But at least one serious Australian foreign correspondent (okay, so it was the ABC) had a red hot go at getting it right, pronouncing it “b’ear sh’va”,

It has a range of meanings, the most likely to be the Well of Oaths.

It’s been commented that the Aussies were so intense on winning the battle simply because of its potentially frothy name.