By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing
Sad to report the passing of Australian boxing legend, former WBC featherweight champion Johnny Famechon at the age of 77 years in his hometown of Frankston, Victoria, Australia
Famechon, who was born in Paris, migrated to Australia at the age of five and went on to win a world title in 1969 in an outstanding professional career. John never boxed as an amateur. From a French boxing family his father Andre, was tough-as-nails lightweight and uncle Ray who was a world-rated 1940’s featherweight who challenged Willie Pep for the world crown.
Johnny Famechon (47-4-6, 18 KOs) was a heavy underdog when he traveled to England in 1969 and shocked the boxing world when he outpointed WBC featherweight champion Jose Legra (105-5-4, 36 KOs) at Albert Hall in London, winning a fifteen round points decision.
“George Smith lifted up my arm. It took a couple of seconds to sink in”. Said Famechon in Frank Quill’s book Fammo. We’ve won – and a few more (seconds) before the full impact hit me. We’ve won the title.
The Aussie’s first defense was against the great Japanese warrior Masheiko Fighting Harada (54-6, 21 KOs) winning a controversial points decision over fifteen rounds, refereed by Wllie Pep, at the Sydney Stadium.
Six months later in Tokyo, Japan, in a career best performance, Famechon stopped Harada in fourteen rounds.
“As referee Nick Pope lifted up my arm to make the result official, something came flying into the ring, a coin I think, and almost hit me in the face
“The Australian group were cheering and yelling like it was their victory, and the Japanese gave me a very good hand and dozens of people streamed through the ropes, officials and photographers.
“The promoters loaded me down with trophies, huge things almost three foot high, and Harada came across the ring to shake hands. He nodded his head saying he knew I had beaten him and went back to his own corner.
“I could see through all the people pressing around me, Harada bowing to the crowd before he got down and out of the ring. But I couldn’t break through to reach him and the crowd didn’t even acknowledge him.
In his final ring appearance against the outstanding Mexican Vincente Saldivar in Rome, Italy, Famechon lost a close fifteen round decision to lose the WBC featherweight championship
“Really I didn’t think we had any worries about the fight with Saldivar. I reckon we won, though not by a great margin.”
Famechon said when interviewed recently that Vicente Saldivar was the best overall boxer he had boxed with Fighting Harada the strongest and best puncher and Jose Legra best footwork and jab.
In 2012 Famechon was elevated to Legend status in the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame.
He was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.
His life was turned around on 1991 when he was hit by a car in Sydney, which caused a stroke and resulted in an acquired brain injury.
Johnny was happily married to Glennyse in 1992 and both had attended boxing promotions and Australian Boxing Hall of Fame functions on a regular basis.
There is a bronze statue of Famechon erected in his honor in his hometown of Frankston in Victoria.
John was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2022 Queen‘s Birthday Honors for significant service to boxing at the elite level.
RIP Fammo.A superb technical boxer who was an Australian hero.When he retired that was it;no comebacks.
My favourite as a youngster. Retired at 25, after 9 years, and never stopped in 67 fights. Outstanding defence, RIP, Johnny.
RIP Johnny Famechon. A world champion, 67 fights and never stopped.
Congrats on a life well lived Johnny! Rest easy champ!