Coast farewells hard man with heart of gold
Tributes have been flowing for one of Noosa's greatest and most generous fighters to lace up boxing gloves.
Friends, family and even a former school mate from Bobby "Precious" Wilson's rough upbringing have labelled him one-of-a-kind who more than lived up to his nickname.
The 62-year-old former Australian boxing team captain and Golden Gloves champion, who changed so many young lives for the better at his Awesome Wilson Boxing gym, was gallant in his last round defeat to cancer.
His army of local admirers knew he would never throw in the towel.
His grieving wife and soulmate Katrina was grateful for the support after his funeral and then moving memorial service at Noosa Heads Surf Club.
"Bobby and I would like to thank you for your extreme generosity, care and support," she said.
"Words can't say enough, and I would like you to know from the deepest spot in my heart a mammoth heartfelt, thanks a million and gratitude forever."
One of the many people Bobby helped, Amy Winter, posted her own tribute on Facebook about how the man they called the Sheriff, for his ability to enforce his sense of fair play and justice on others, was the making of her as person about 12 years ago.
His fight prodigy said she was going through some s---, "the worst 12 months of self-destruction at the time".
When she told Bobby his typical response was "I can help you with that"
"And he did," Amy said.
"So started my boxing journey, a new-found respect for myself and a friendship I'll be forever grateful for.
"Bobby and Kat taught me that I was stronger than I could ever have imagined (and had a killer right hook), that through darkness there is light and even when I feel alone I had so many who loved me, including them.
"Bobby instilled a discipline in me to do better and be better and he did this through his passion, boxing.
"It nearly killed me on many occasions but lucky for me Kat was my main trainer."
Much of Bobby's own troubled upbringing was captured in his lauded memoirs A Fire Tonight , A Street Kid's Promise.
The book told of a very frightened young boy's journey into manhood in Melbourne.
Bobby eventually moved to Noosa in the early 1980s where he joined forces with another force of nature in Frank Everett of Frank's Gym fame.
The late Everett summed up his friend's talent and tenacity many years ago.
"Bobby is the most exciting boxer, street fighter I have ever met," he said.
"Hard exterior with a heart of gold, who will protect people from all walks of life daily.
"He throws his heart in and his body follows."
His good mate Anton Mogg from Noosa Heads Surf Club gave Bobby's eulogy.
He said the starting bell for Bobby's life first rang on March 21, 1958.
His ex-serviceman dad Jack died when Bobby was just four and his mother Marjory's new partner was a violent drunk.
Bobby was 13 when he started living on the streets where he was given his "Precious" tag.
"At one stage home was an old chook house at a mate's place," Anton said.
He still managed to stay in school and took up karate and boxing in his teens.
The first to feel Bobby's power was an older school bully he punched on the nose.
"Something changed then and there, instantly the older boys at school left him alone and everyone saw him in a different light," Anton said.
"If Bobby was walking down the street in the Braybrook area and some other boy was giving another boy a hard time he'd say 'hey, stop that you can't do that'," he said.
This was the start of Bobby's Sheriff persona which stuck with him for the rest of his life.
Bobby began bouncing at nightclubs and eventually moved to Noosa in 1982 after honeymooning there with his first wife.
He bounced at the Noosa Villa and then the Reef Hotel where he worked his way up to be the pub's general manager.
He was regularly seen around town in his red and white Holden FC.
"That's where a lot of us met him and had the best times of our life," Anton said.
Frank was Bobby's boxing trainer, taking him to a record of 33 wins from 37 fights and 27 by knockout.
The heavyweight won two national titles, three state titles and three Golden Gloves.
Bobby boxed for Australia internationally six times and was eventually made team captain.
When he eventually turned his hand full time to training boxing, Anton said Bobby's impact was immediate.
"He gave many Noosa kids hope, love and confidence," he said.
"He also did this for so many Vietnam vets and returned servicemen."
Anton said Bobby met Katrina in 2007 and every single day was one of love and devotion for each other.
In 2017 Bobby received a Queensland Community Award recognising the many lives he had changed for the better.
His cancer diagnosis came in 2018 but he survived far longer than expected with the love and support of Katrina.
"We lost a great friend, a mentor, a saviour of life for so many," Anton said.