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Denis Hill '57

Written on the 16 April 2018 by Old Collegians Association

Denis Hill 

Exert from 2003 Rostrevor Magazine

A recent visit to Rostrevor by Denis ('57) and May Hill, to do some research on the Inter-Collegiate Boxing Cup for a 'History of Boxing in South Australia' they are working on, prompted Red & Black to catch up with Denis to explore further the Hill family's association with Rostrevor College.

May and Denis Hill

What Red & Black discovered in meeting Denis is the story of an exceptionally generous man. Denis Hill has given much of his life to SA boxing and in doing so, has helped along the way, hundreds of boys who have been given some confidence and re-direction in life and have had their self-esteem restored or strengthened, largely through Denis' devotion and work.

Denis is the son of Tom Hill who commenced at Rostrevor in 1929. Tom came to Rostrevor at the age of 11 and made his mark at once as an outstanding sportsman in the Under 13s in football and cricket. From 1932 to 1935 he played in the lstXVIII being Captain in his last two years. He was a champion full back remembered for his tremendous ' dropkicks. Tom was also Captain of the 1st XI in 1934 and 35. He was highly respected by all at Rostrevor and was a Prefect in his last two years. On leaving school he joined the Railways Department where he remained for his working life. Tom was a keen worker for St Vincent de Paul and a regular visitor of youths in gaol, with his strong commitment to helping the marginalized.

From the 1935 Annual: 1st XVIII. J. Hogan, T Hill, K O'Neill.

Son Denis has picked up on this positive quality and has continued to give marginalized youth opportunities and avenues to turn their lives around, in particular through his devotion to boxing but more generally in being there to support and mentor boys in dealing with life.

Denis attended Rostrevor from Marist Brothers at Thebarton. Other old boys to do the same were David and Michael David. He states he was not a great scholar while at Rostrevor but remembers the good work of Bros Hayes, Greening, Whiting, Miller and Mr Tom Kendall. Tom took an interest in Denis as an athlete and Denis went on to play for Northern YCW which Tom coached in those days.
While not keeping in touch with too many old boys upon leaving school, when prompted he remembers John Lamprell, John Fielder, Kevin Moore, Ron Bannear, Bob Stanford and Robert Ryan too name a few whose company he enjoyed while at Rostrevor. Denis' involvement in boxing started in 1957 at Sandy Walsh's Gym at Thebarton.

He had about 6 amateur bouts at places like the Pennington Hostel, St Clair Youth Centre, where he was a support fight for the great Jimmy Carruthers, the Railway Institute, Adelaide Town Hall and Australian Hall. When son Anthony was around 13, Denis encouraged him to go to the gym to gain some fitness. From there Denis began training Anthony. Other Rostrevor boys to join Anthony at the gym at various times were Damien Brow n, James Devitt, Greg Weir and Sean and Mark Cash. Anthony was also supported by his good friend Patrick McDonald.

After 4 years of gym work Anthony commenced a campaign to the State Titles Super Heavyweight Division (91kg and over). He won that title in 1985. Later in 1985 he went to the Australian titles in Perth and took the Silver Medal of the Heavy Weight division with only 3 bouts under his belt.

In 1985 he was named Boxer of the Year and in 1986 he won the Northern Territory Title. In 1987 he went to the Oceania Games in West Samoa and in 1987 the King's Cup in Bangkok where he won Bronze. In the same year he won Bronze at the Oceania Cup, was SA Heavy Weight Champion and was again named Boxer of the Year. In 1988 he gained Bronze at the President's Cup in Indonesia and then boxed at the Oceania in Tahiti. In 1988 he won the SA Heavy Weight Championship.

Anthony Hill fighting in England in1989.

Anthony married Dianne in 1989 and they have a son, Matthew.  He went on to gain an Economics Degree. He is presently working in England. Paralleling Anthony's success as a boxer was Denis' success and respect as his coach.

In 1987 Denis was approached by Barry Mitchell of Casserly and Mitchell Real Estate at Elizabeth. Mitchell wanted to do more for the youth of Elizabeth and so he refurbished the Northside Boxing Club and invited Denis to be Head Coach. This was to begin a I5 year commitment to the youth of the Elizabeth area. One success is Leon Dornford who won number three in the world at the Youth World Titles as a Lightweight.

In 1990, Denis was selected as a coach for Australians competing in International tournaments around the world and for nearly 10 years he attended two International tournaments a year. As well as his commitment to Northside where he coached Don McKay, Mark Dalby and David Ross to name a few, Denis found time to be State Coach for 14 years and worked with Danny Green, Earl Wiltshire, Richard Roullis, Justin Kane and James Swann at the National level. In the late 90s his work was justly recognized and rewarded when he applied for and won a position as a Coach of the Australian Boxing Team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He spent 5 months with head coach, Bodo Andreass, and the team, qualifying through the Oceania region. His involvement with the 2000 Australian Olympic campaign was just recognition for Denis' life devotion to boxing and to his charges.

From the 1957 Annual: Sons of Old Scholars.
Back: D. Hambour, K. McEntee, B. Bourke, D. Bourke.
Third: P. Gluyas, M. Burns, M. David, J. Kearney.
Second: J. Gaffney, D. Hill, G. Pedler.
Front: J. Sullivan, K. Hancock, D. Ryan, R. Ryan.

A chance meeting has enabled Red & Black to share quite a remarkable story of success, commitment and kindness through the achievements of Denis with the support of his wife May.

 

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