Stockton, the close-knit northern community of Newcastle, New South Wales, was industrialised even by 1840. Shipbuilding, a tweed factory, salt works, lime kilns, a tin smelter and vitriol works, supplemented by a coal mine from 1885, were established there, but these no longer exist. Large ships were moored beside it three abreast waiting to be refitted. With such a declining community by the 1940s, the local working-class culture nevertheless had deep roots. Boxing was one of its compelling collective passions. The brilliant Aboriginal boxer Dave Sands came to live there at the height of his glowing fighting career. He married a local, Bessie Burns, in 1945 and after a reception, Sands had to leave early that evening to fight in the main event at the Newcastle Stadium. The authors argue that the analysis of space can be a useful way of researching the history of sport. Observations of the local landscape at Lynn Oval, Stockton, provide, quite apart from written documents, a visual record of how the work and lives of former generations were carried on within an industrial setting. The organisation of sport was used for local community building and local achievement which was eventually married to the international boxing prowess of Sands. This article, through an analysis of the contemporary printed media, explores the reasons Sands chose Stockton as a place of residence and how the local population viewed him with growing admiration as a family man and their own national sporting hero. And yet the champion’s saga is a discourse that contains discordant notes: ambiguities that arose from the white society’s prejudices and racist attitudes. A close analysis is made of his public persona, his reception as the British Empire Champion and the outpouring of grief at his untimely death. Consideration is given to local oral testimonies and to the communal character of monuments dedicated to the great boxer in Stockton, Kempsey, Dungog and Sydney.