HE has a new tattoo (and a needle phobia), mobile phone, boxing gloves, an e-mail address and a ripper sermon.
The muscular Reverend Dave Smith, Dulwich Hill’s “Fighting Father”, has also learnt how to work a camera since the Courier discovered him in 1994, but he has ruled out a modelling career because he has had a few too many fights.
“I haven’t got the nose for it,” he said.
Instead Father Dave, sporting a new and rather tender Fighting Fathers tattoo, will continue to run Holy Trinity Church’s program “Get Off the Gear and into the Ring” as he has done for the past three years.
Police Minister and Ashfield MP Paul Whelan said the boxing and wrestling program, which offered young local people an alternative to drugs and crime, operated on a “shoestring”.
Mr Whelan, who has allocated the program a $5000 grant, said: “The Rev David Smith has recognised the great need for activities and support for young people living in the Duiwich Hill area and has quietly achieved remarkable success”.
Father Dave said many of the 70 local kids who attended the centre daily were using heroin and the program offered them a realistic alternative and a different way of life.
The priest has a second degree black belt in Hapkido and has competed in both amateur and professional levels in boxing, kickboxing and wrestling.
Father Dave said people criticised the program because of the adverse health effects the contact sport may have on the youths in 30 years time.
He said the program had, however, achieved its goal if suicidal kids were still alive in “six days or six months time”.
“Get a look at what’s at stake here,” he said.
“Let’s get these emotions out in the ring rather than the street.” Fighting in the ring taught the kids to function under pressure, taking control of emotions”.
More and more girls were also taking up the challenge of boxing and wrestling at the centre and even Father Dave’s seven-year-old daughter Veronica is in on the action.
Veronica keeps a score card at the end of her bed that reads: “Veronica 12, Dad 3.”
Father Dave and his wife Ange are expecting their second child in seven weeks.
Apart from the imbalanced father-daughter scorecard, it looks as though Father Dave is winning even on a shoestring”.