Name: Dave Russell
Birthplace: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Boxing Record: click
Dave (The Destroyer) Russell won the W.B.F World Cruiserweight title from the American titleholder “Dangerous” Dan Murphy at the ripe old age of 32 years old at the Knox Stadium in Melbourne, via point’s decision on an extremely hot night on the 11th December 1992. This win capped off a distinguished career as one of Australia’s premier Cruiserweights ever.
Russell was born on the 16th June 1960 in England, however, he moved to Australia as an infant. After an amateur career in which he represented his home state of Victoria, Russell turned professional as a heavyweight on the 23rd October 1983 in a fight against Sydney southpaw Leo Moore. Russell won within four rounds of the scheduled eight. Before long, Russell had attracted a large number of fans to his bouts. He had approximately 95 tattoos, a drooping black moustache and a shaven head (long before it became trendy in Australia). His looks however, belied the fact that he was a really good bloke and a gentleman in and out of the ring. He regularly visited prisons in Victoria, including the notorious Pentridge Prison, to give boxing exhibitions, sign autographs and give advice when needed.
He won a few more bouts before touring the United Kingdom in 1984, to gain some international experience. Russell had three fights in England, winning two points decisions against Frank Robinson and Lee White respectively and he also scored a draw against John Westgarth. While in England, Russell also sparred with future W.B.C Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno. After returning to Australia he knocked out Mandingo in 3 rounds in Melbourne. Next up, Dave Russell hit the big time when he challenged veteran Steve Aczel for both the Australian and Orient & Pacific Boxing Federation (O.P.B.F) heavyweight titles on the 15th February 1985 in Melbourne. Russell dominated his more experienced opponent to win by a TKO in the 6th round. The OPBF title is the WBC regional title for the Asia-Pacific region.
Big Dave then won his next four bouts, before “Mean” Dean Waters challenged him for the Australian heavyweight title. They fought in the town of Swan Hill on the Murray River on the 15th March 1986. Russell was leading the fight when Waters stopped him in the 10th round, to take his crown. Russell was a small heavyweight at around 200-210 pounds, and it came as no surprise when he dropped down in weight to fight in the Cruiserweight division. His first fight at Cruiserweight was against the tough Zambian Chisanda Mutti for the Commonwealth title in Melbourne on the 9th May 1986. Before a national television audience, Russell showed immense courage before being stopped in the 11th round. In his next fight he fought for the Australian and Orient & Pacific Boxing Federation (O.P.B.F) Cruiserweight titles against Kevin Wagstaff in Melbourne on the 30th April 1987. Russell blasted Wagstaff out with a second round KO. After a few more wins he defended against Apollo Sweet. Again, Russell was leading until he run out of steam, and was stopped in the 9th round. After a few more fights, including a win over American Jack Johnson (of Washington) on the Fenech-Navarro undercard and two wins over South Australian “Irish” Kevin Barry, Russell had a rematch with Apollo Sweet for the Australian Cruiserweight title at Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne. Sweet had a cut opened up in the first round by an accidental head butt and the fight was declared a draw after one round. To say the crowd was extremely unhappy is a bit of an understatement.
In 1991, Russell challenged Briton, Derek Angol for the Commonwealth title. Angol stopped Russell in the fourth round. The year of 1992 proved to be possibly the best year of his career. After beating Jack Johnson and Ted Cofie, he again challenged for the Australian Cruiserweight title. This time he fought “Vicious” Vivian Schwalger from Queensland in front of 4,000 people at the Knox Stadium. Russell dominated the fight, eventually stopping Schwalger in the sixth round to win the Australian Cruiserweight title for the second time. His next fight was the pinnacle of his career, when he outpointed the American Dan Murphy for the W.B.F Cruiserweight title in Melbourne. There was even a brawl in the crowd that night.
His first defence of his new title was against the talented Englishman Johnny Nelson on the 30th April, at Melbourne’s Festival Hall, known locally as the “House Of Stoush”. After eleven hard fought rounds Nelson eventually stopped the game Australian.
Russell retired after this fight with his head held high. He was arguably the most popular Melbourne boxer of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He had held the Australian and O.P.B.F Heavyweight titles, the Australian (twice), and O.P.B.F Cruiserweight titles, and the W.B.F World Cruiserweight title. He was one boxer who always gave the boxing fans their money’s worth.
Dave Russell keeps in touch with the fight game by helping out at the Melbourne boxing gymnasium.
Record: Total Bouts-33, Wins-22 (13 KO), Lost-8, Draws-3.