Joe Wallis, boxing referee and host of the Cricketers Arms, Surry Hills


Cricketers’ Arms Hotel, Surry Hills, NSW. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection

joe wallis boxing referee

JOE Wallis (pictured), hosted the Cricketers’ Arms Hotel, in the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills during the 1940s.

The popular publican was born Joseph John Newton, to working-class parents, at St Peters.

As a teenager, he boxed for money and masculine honour.

After substituting in a bout for a friend called Wallis, he assumed his mate’s surname and went on to fight as a featherweight, but soon turned welterweight.

In later years he became a successful boxing referee before becoming host of the Cricketers’ Arms, which he was granted a license, in October 1941.

Wallis also ran a gymnasium and became well-known for giving away milk to children from poor families, outside his Surry Hills’ pub.

Joe Wallis died of cancer, aged 63, on October 30 1952.

Cricketers Arms Hotel Surry Hills NSW 1949 NBA ANU

The Cricketers’Arms, Surry Hills, Sydney, 1949, when Joe Wallis was host. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University


JOE WALLIS, well-known boxing referee, giving away milk to children of the district outside his hotel in Surry Hills recently. The milk had been given to him by one of his customers in exchange for a bottle of beer. It was the first milk the children had drunk that day. From left: Donald Friedwald, Alex Bradshaw, Windsor Chrispin (Wallis extreme right).

– Call and Bailey’s Weekly (Perth)Thursday 25 January 1945

joe wallis boxing ref C1940

Boxers Harry Collins and Sid Godfrey shake hands in front of referee and Cricketers Arms publican, Joe Wallis C1940. Picture: S.J. Hood.

Funeral of a fight referee

SYDNEY. —Boxing identities crowded the funeral of famous fight referee, Joe Wallis, at Darlinghurst.
Hundreds of spectators stood around and watched until the funeral cortege finally moved off to the Woronora Cemetery.
The funeral procession moved along Flinders St. into Dowling St., then Fitzroy St., passed the Cricketers Arms Hotel, where Mr. Wallis was licensee.
One of the world’s leading boxing referees, his real name was Joe Newton, but he adopted the name of Wallis for boxing.
Chief mourners were his widow, Mrs. Alice Newton, and his sons, Joseph and Robert.
The Evening Advocate (Innisfail, Qld.) Monday 5 January 1953


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Categories: Publicans, Sydney hotels

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3 replies

  1. Hey Mick,

    Would love to learn more. What is the best way to get in contact with you?


  2. The first pub I worked in about 1972. Bill Haisler and his washboard band played there every saturday arvo It was a horseshoe bar with straight people drinking on the Foveaux st side and the gay guys on the other side while out the back in a very dark bar the gay women drank, I was never game to go out there. Joe Wallis’s photo was still on the wall along with a host of fighters of the time Funny but great times at that pub.

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