Greater Shepparton Sports Hall of Fame
Domingo Carlos was a Spanish merchant whose ship became wrecked on his way to New Zealand in the 1920s.
He was saved near Sydney, where he met his wife Belle and they had five boys — the youngest named Max.
‘‘Domingo named him Max because he looked like a Mexican,’’ Max’s wife Yvonne said.
The brothers all enjoyed boxing, following in their father’s footsteps as Domingo used to enjoy a fight on the sailing ships of the Spanish Navy.
‘‘Max started boxing through the (Shepparton) Youth Club at the age of around 12 or 13,’’ Yvonne said.
‘‘He was very light on his feet ... was very fit, had extreme stamina and had a big lung capacity.
‘‘He was an orthodox fighter and his most famous punch was his straight left, but his defence was very good.’’
In the 1950s, Max worked under the tutelage of Shepparton coach Bill O’Brien and quickly worked his way up the ranks.
In 1954, he boxed as an amateur at the Shepparton Boys Club and won the Golden Gloves in 1955.
‘‘It was a tournament put on by the Catholics,’’ Yvonne said.
Max moved to Melbourne aged 18 to work under the well-known Ambrose Palmer, where he began to ply his trade against pro boxers.
Not long after, he became the National Amateur Champion and represented Australia in the South East Asian Games in the light welterweight division.
‘‘He won the gold medal, but there was no real great fuss about it,’’ Yvonne said.
Shepparton was full of excitement when Carlos was announced as a member of Australia’s 1956 Melbourne Olympics team.
Shepparton’s first Olympian was set to compete on the biggest stage, although not far from his own neighbourhood.
‘‘He used to say he went from Footscray to West Heidelberg to compete in the Games,’’ Yvonne said.
‘‘He had to hitchhike a ride back and forth to Shepparton because he didn’t have a car.’’
Carlos narrowly lost against American Joe Shaw in the second round of the competition, which Yvonne put down to an unfavourable draw.
‘‘He and American Joe Shaw were the two favourites and they fought each other in the second round,’’ she said.
‘‘Joe beat him and then had to pull out a few rounds later because of broken ribs.
‘‘But they sat together at the gold medal fight and Joe whispered in Max’s ear, ‘these two are fighting for our medals Maxy’.’’
His career peaked after winning the Australian lightweight championship over 15 rounds against indigenous boxer George Bracken before a packed house at Melbourne’s Festival Hall.
‘‘It was a rainy July night ... and his friend got arrested on the night trying to scalp money for a spare ticket we had,’’ Yvonne said.
‘‘He missed the entire fight because he was locked up.
‘‘Max beat him (Bracken) and took home two years worth of pay for the fight, which was 1800 pounds at the time.’’
Injury stepped in and cut short his career when Max suffered a fractured ear drum, so he used his status to become a businessman, opening a menswear store in Shepparton.
‘‘He retired in 1979 ... and four years later Max got sick,’’ Yvonne said.
‘‘He was diagnosed with a brain tumour, but with radiation therapy it shrunk and he lived another 13 years.’’
Max died aged 60, but he will forever be remembered as Shepparton’s first Olympian.