Just like his boxing career, Jeff Fenech should never be counted out.
The health crisis that unfolded in Thailand had its sequel on the weekend when the former champ returned home to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding in Sydney.
It was a relief for family and friends to see the old boxer back on his feet after a near-death experience when he took ill with pneumonia, resulting in heart surgery.
Thankfully, the young boxers he was mentoring sensed Fenech was not well and got him to hospital.
But although that was what was needed, we’re not so sure about the bizarre hospital bedside interviews that followed.
While many Australians were concerned for Fenech’s welfare, the fact the entire episode was captured on video by Epicentre Boxing and uploaded to social media made for uncomfortable viewing.
It all seemed a tad intrusive as Fenech cried in his bed, watched by his verbally challenged young charges, ending with his famous catchcry “I love youse all”.
‘Hold my beer’ said Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.
With Fenech looking like he’d miss his daughter’s wedding, ACA just happened to be there when Jessie flew to Thailand to have a bedside ceremony, only for the champ to then make a ‘surprise’ trip home in time for the nuptials at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Boxing fans will never forget the pin drop moment when Fenech was unexpectedly floored in the seventh round by Calvin Grove in his 1993 Melbourne comeback, but this was even more depressing.
If Channel Nine’s bedside wedding with the champ laid up holding a stuffed heart pillow was bizarre, they landed a knockout blow for good taste when reporter Sylvia Jeffreys welcomed the frail-looking 55-year-old back to Sydney just one hour before the second wedding.
“Thank you so much, you guys, for your support,” Fenech tellingly offers at one one stage in the report.
“You look remarkably well after open heart surgery,” says Jeffreys.
Ah, no, actually, the champ looked like he’d gone 25 rounds with Ali – Fenech barely having the strength to lift his shirt when Jeffreys asks about his ‘neat scar’.
It was excruciating to see Fenech jumping through hoops to make the story sing, filmed shivering alone behind the cathedral as he waited to surprise the bride.
Ultimately Jessie couldn’t speak to her dad upon the surprise being revealed because her tears would likely ruin her make-up and dress.
Someone should really have thought of that.
Still, boxing loves a comeback story, so the good news is Fenech looks to be on the mend, with his new heart valve working perfectly.
“They say [it] can last 20-25 years,” Fenech told ACA.
This new valve, hopefully … To the whole of Australia, supported me, I love youse all.’’
Right back at you Jeff, but not so much the wedding crashers.
Who’ll bring the bounce to Wallabies
Michael Cheika’s departure as coach of the Wallabies after a less-than-stellar stint and a World Cup quarter-final exit was no surprise, but the main man’s grumpiness when asked about his likely fate was pretty much what we’d come to expect.
Cheika certainly continued his admirable trait of taking the blame onto himself, but his interviews with the host broadcaster after Australia’s matches on more than one occasion offered little but the usual platitudes as he psyched the interviewer out of ‘asking the hard ones’.
His “cruel, cruel world” comments when one journalist had the temerity to ask him about his future in the aftermath of the World Cup exit merely deflected the issue for another 24 hours when surely straight talking was the order of the night.
What can be said for Cheika is that he did it his way with a team that was far from the best ever assembled in the green and gold.
There’s now a top-line field lining up for the Wallabies job, with New Zealand’s Dave Rennie from Glasgow Warriors the favoured candidate at this stage.
Others mentioned in dispatches are England’s current coach Eddie Jones – despite being contracted for another two years – along with his attack consultant Scott Wisemantel.
Japan’s Jamie Joseph and the Brumbies Dan McKellar are also thought to be in the frame.
I have a meme … Ricciardo on song again
Australian formula one trickster Daniel Ricciardo has to be one of the sport’s greatest assets, driving fan engagement and amusing the paddock with his fun-at-all-costs antics.
This week, even the formula one official website could not resist the sight of Ricciardo disrupting other drivers in the media bullpen offering up his version of baritone.
Ferrari’s Charles Le Clerc was so distracted he couldn’t finish his interview, but got the Renault driver back on the plane trip home from Japan, sending this offering out on social media. Expect the memes to follow.
Sport thought …
‘‘What we really want to find out is what’s happening inside the abattoir when these beautiful horses are slaughtered.’’
– After the racing ‘wastage’ scandal Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner wants a full investigation into the Meramist Abattoir at Caboolture