Boxers had to sink or swim
By STEVE SPINKS
LISMORE'S Stan Hayward is so tough he used to box in a swimming pool.
In fact, in 1957 the then 23-year-old pugilist won the NSW lightweight professional boxing title in the shallow end of the Lismore Memorial Baths.
As pictures of a boxer wearing floaties fill your mind, forget it ? the pool was drained at the time.
Hayward's memories of boxing in the Lismore pool are just another quirk to resurface as the $9.75million redeveloped Lismore Memorial Baths opens to the public today.
According to the now 71-year-old, boxing in the pool was a regular occurrence up until the 1960s during the winter months when the baths were empty.
"The ring would be in the shallow end and one side had to be built up so the ring was level," Hayward said.
"There were ringside seats that people had to climb down into, and the crowd in the grandstands used to be able to look down on the ring.
"I'm told the grandstand seats were the best."
On the night Hayward won his NSW title, more than 2000 people crammed into the Baths to watch.
Many fight nights were held at the Baths and former 1960 Olympic bronze medallist Tony Madigan fought at the unusual facility.
Hayward retired from boxing in 1961 but continued his involvement in the sport by coaching for more than 20 years with the Lismore Amateur Boxing Club and the Police Boys Club.
These days you're more likely to find him on the golf course, although he still looks fit enough to go a few rounds in the ring.
As for the new pool, Hayward said he would be down for a swim soon and he hopes the facility still reminds him of that special night in 1957.
But he's not expecting any boxing bouts to be held in the shallow end any time soon.
After all, the pool is heated and will be full for most of the year.