Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Zealand Giants

Here are a few famous New Zealanders we passed in yesterday’s drive from Akaroa to Oamaru.

First there is the giant trout at Rakia. The one we pictured at Adaminaby in Australia claims to be the biggest trout “statue” in the world, but there are several in New Zealand which might dispute the claim, including this one.

Then, approaching Timaru, at the Phar Lap racing track, a new statue has been erected of the famous New Zealand horse Phar Lap. Phar Lap spent most of his racing career in Australia, which of course claims him, as they do with so many famous New Zealanders who have moved to Australia. That would be fair enough if they made mention of the origins of these people (or in this case horse).

Phar Lap is believed by many to have been the best racehorse of all time. He certainly had a wonderful career, making many other superb horses look as if they should have been pulling something other than the fillies. He died in mysterious circumstances after travelling to USA and putting several of their wonder horses in their place.

The third statue, in the middle of Timaru, is of Bob Fitzimmons. Bob was born in Cornwall but spent most of his life in Timaru. An ex-blacksmith, he was first the middleweight, then the heavyweight champion of the world, taking that title from the famed “Gentleman Jim” Corbett (played in an excellent film by the Australian actor – and ex-boxer himself – Errol Flynn).

Most of Fitzimmons’ fights of course had to take place in Europe or America. Each journey would have taken weeks or months, which makes his achievements even more astonishing. I know from experience that it is not very easy to keep fit when on board ship for prolonged periods, and of course he would have been wanting to improve his fitness as he approached a fight, not just maintain it.

And look at his build. Heavyweights were so much slimmer, even in my lifetime, than the massive brutes who fight in that division these days.

(Of course the photos have appeared in the opposite order to my listing, but you can cope with that)

Oh, nearly forgot! This is a walking blog, is it not? We have walked 15 kms so far today and expect to add to that this afternoon.

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