The stories and achievements of Dave Sands are legendary.
A proud Dunghutti man from Burnt Bridge, he was one of the best boxers this country has ever produced who had eyes on a world title fight with the great Sugar Ray Robinson, before his unfortunate passing.
Before Sands' death he resided in Stockton with his wife and children; his fourth child Donna was born after his passing.
Memorials for Sands exist throughout various locations in NSW.
Sands and stones may break my bones, a three panel painting in honour of Sands, is the latest piece to honour him as part of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery's Shadow Boxer exhibit.
The exhibition launched on June 18 and runs till August 8 with the Sands' artwork designed and painted by Dunghutti artist Adam 'Blak' Douglas.
"I'm related to Dave, he is the ultimate hero to talk about in the family," Mr Douglas told the Argus.
"It was great (to be approached), I'm into world firsts and there's so many world firsts to be created for First Nations people here."
The piece has an intriguing story with a deep connection to Dunghutti culture.
"We're Dunghutti people, hence why I used our totem of the praying mantis in the design," Mr Douglas explained.
"The background pattern is a pattern I use in many of my mural projects, usually the colours are the ochre colours and it creates an attractive background pattern, particularly if you have a large surface.
"That's kind of borrowed from the 1940s' battleship pattern they used to use on battleships so you can't see them on the water.
"I re-modelled that to use it in my way. When I did that with the ochre colours it represents the fragmented cultures that have come since colonisation.
"When you usually look at Aboriginal designs using ochres, there's a harmonious, organic, ergonomic, concentric pattern but I wanted to fracture that to represent what is happening on the landscape here, not only physically and culturally but also environmentally.
"So in this case I used the same design but included the green to use the praying mantis."
Mr Douglas was approached by MRAG director Gerry Bobsien after she noticed the monument tribute to Sands in Dungog during her travels.
"I would drive past the memorial to Dave Sands in Dungog and started thinking about all of the stories that could be brought out by an exhibition towards boxing, particularly the Indigenous heritage and history and deep affection for the sport," Ms Bobsien explained to the Argus.
"Then I saw, by chance, a post from Chad Ritchie Sands and the artist Blak Douglas trying to raise funds to refurbish the memorial in Dungog.
"I spoke to Blak and said I really think you need to be a part of this exhibition and I want to bring out the Dave Sands story along with Les Darcy.
"So we commissioned Blak to do a beautiful portrait of Dave Sands which is up now in our gallery.
"That work now is a part of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery collection and it was a great way to honour an incredible Australian athlete."
Darcy, a former Australian heavyweight champion, known as 'The Maitland Wonder', was the original inspiration for the exhibit.
"We started the idea around 12 months ago," Ms Bobsien said.
"We're based in Maitland and Les Darcy is a historical figure of this town and we have a great collection of his personal items given to us by the family.
"We've got quite a few artists who were making work around boxing and I started to think this would be a good idea for a show."
Ms Bobsien said the exhibit has brought a new audience to the gallery.
"We're getting a great response for the show, lots of people who are not just interested in art but the way art and sport can weave together stories about our lives in an interesting way," she explained.
"There's other artists in the show who are well known Australian artists but also boxers.
"For example, Richard Lewer spends his morning in the studio but in the afternoon he's training boxers at the Northside gym in Melbourne.
"There's artists who are really interested in boxing as a sport and we wanted to bring out the reasons why that is and show the parallels between boxing and art in terms of the discipline required, training, repetition, camaraderie and community.
"It's been really interesting - we've had a lot of people come in who have never been in the gallery before."
Chad Ritchie Sands, grandson of Dave, was delighted to see the exhibit run and hopes for future recognition in Kempsey.
"It's good, we're really proud (of the exhibit)," he said.
"It's just a pity (there's not something in his home town), there is the tribute at the historical society but locals have been wanting something significant done in Kempsey for a long time."
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