Monday, 26 October 2015

Tragic death of Lithuanian boxer in Broken Hill

The Sydney Morning Herald of 4 November 1933 carried the following news item on page 19:

Broken Hill, Friday
Sydney Ernest Sloan, a Sydney boxer, was remanded at the police court this morning on a charge of having feloniously slain Victor Cromberg, who died in hospital last night following a spar with Sloane.  Letters in the possession of Cromberg indicate that he was a Lithuanian, and that his relatives live overseas.

Cromberg had arrived in Australia around 1927, aged 17 or 18.  He may have been a Prussian Lithuanian from the Klaipeda region (known as Memel before 1923) as his parents had written to him in German.  Cromberg worked as a commercial traveller for Silk Products Ltd of Sydney and was also an occasional boxer who had fought in Sydney and Melbourne.  The previous week he had fought in Port Pirie (South Australia) before making his way to Broken Hill.  Aged 24 in 1933 he was athletic and a solid man, weighing 12 stone.

The Broken Hill press covered the death, including Victor Cromberg's background, in detail.  Cromberg was reported as having been most anxious to learn to box: The Barrier Miner of 3 November 1933 (p1) wrote that "He stated that 12 months ago he did not know the difference between boxing and wrestling, but was determined to learn boxing from the first steps".  In addition, "Cromberg was apparently in poor circumstances in Broken Hill.  He had very little clothing with him. There was only a small balance in his bank book.  Citizens who came in contact with the man during his short stay here stated that he was well informed and could talk on almost any subject."

It is tempting to speculate that Victor Cromberg's interest in boxing, at that time, might have been sparked by the success of another Lithuanian, Jack Sharkey, in the USA (see  Sharkey was the world heavyweight title holder in 1932 and 1933.

Sloan was in Broken Hill preparing for a scheduled fight on 4 November and had sparred with Cromberg on 1 November.  The next day Cromberg also sparred with Sloan; half way through the first round Cromberg was hit and fell backwards, his head striking the flooring boards.  He died later that evening in hospital; the post-mortem examination found a clot on the brain.  

The Coroner found that Cromberg's death was a most unfortunate accident.  Evidence submitted to the inquest suggested that even though Cromberg was wearing good boxing kit, including head gear, he fell heavily onto an unprotected floor and probably as a consequence sustained a sub-dural hemorrhage.  The Coroner recommended that the floor in question should be protected during future sparring bouts. Charges against Sloane were withdrawn; he was reported to have been deeply distressed by the accident and considering retiring from the ring.

No comments:

Post a Comment