Fighter until the end
Saturday, 7th May, 2016
By Darrin Manuel
The boxing fraternity and West Football Club will farewell an iconic character in local sport on Monday with the funeral of Jimmy Johns.
Johns passed away at Broken Hill Hospital on Wednesday at the age of 75 after suffering a heart attack.
Born in Broken Hill and raised in Newton Street, Johns found his first job working at the abattoir before landing a job at Bruce Langford’s butcher shop.
He then opened his own butcher shop in Gypsum Street near Burke Ward school, and was often seen giving free fritz to young Burkies making their way home from school.
Many youngsters would remember him from his work in the school system however, where he held the role of general assistant for a number of years at Burke Ward, Morgan Street and Willyama until his retirement at the age of 65.
Away from work, his primary loves were his wife Gae and family, boxing, and football.
His daughter Malissa said Jimmy was a talented all-round sportsman and mentor, and when he wasn’t in the boxing ring he could be found playing or coaching football, baseball, basketball and squash and numerous other sports.
She said he was also a loving father who raised her and her siblings - Sharon, Kylie, and Casey - in a happy, rough-and-ready household.
“He had girls and he’d wanted sons up until Casey came along, so Sharon and I did a lot of boxing, we’d armwrestle, it was almost like having a house full of boys,” she laughed.
“We shot rabbits, we’d go fishing and camping, he was just an honest, hard-working, loyal friend.”
Malissa said her father could be both stoic yet lighthearted, balancing his strong convictions with a good sense of humour.
“He was respectful and had strong principles, he was a very principled man,” she said.
“And he was a great guy with a wicked sense of humour, right up until the end he was cracking jokes.”
When Johns knew the end could be drawing near while he was in hospital, he maintained the same steely resolve he had shown throughout his life.
“He said ‘If I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go. I’m not going to (mess) around with all this stuff hanging out of me’.
“So he went out the way he wanted, which doesn’t surprise me at all - he always did things the way he wanted,” said Malissa.
Jimmy suffered a small heart attack on Monday, then went into cardiac arrest on Wednesday and was unable to be revived.
While his passing will be mourned by many in the community, Malissa said it had also brought together many forgotten friends who Jimmy had helped throughout his life.
“Some of the messages I’ve received from people who I haven’t seen for 40 years - from boys who he trained years ago - the things they’re saying really are a testament to him.”
West past players and officials committee chairman, David Sedunary, said Johns was a well-liked premiership player and best and fairest winner who would be sadly missed by all at the club.
“He was a good friend and mentor, he did a lot of things for the West Football Club,” he said.
“And he was very caring to a lot of young people in Broken Hill - teaching them how to defend themselves.
“And he would have done a lot of it for free, Jimmy would just help anyone.”
Jimmy’s funeral will be held at 3pm on Monday. Full funeral details can be found in the classifieds section of today’s edition.