Heart of the Fight

Documentary, 30 minutes, 2016, Mark Taylor & Byron Arellano

Watch via the video link below. Also regularly broadcast on NITV (like our Facebook page for updates)

Heart of the Fight is a film portrait of Aboriginal pastor Richard Phillips, aka Dick Blair, Australian middleweight champion and the inspiration behind The Block in Redfern.

Dickie Blair was one of the last in his league, a cane cutter from the north who came to Sydney during a pivotal time in the history of Indigenous Australia and became a great boxer, a Christian leader and a great father. Arriving in Redfern in the late ’60s against the backdrop of the referendum and the new wave of the Aboriginal rights movement, Richard was already a fighter inside and outside the ring.

Curious? Learn more about the film

Premiered on NITV, 6 July 2016. Stay in touch for future screening updates.

The story of the founding of The Block in Redfern through the eyes of Australian Champion boxer, Dick Blair. Dickie was one of the last in his league, a cane cutter from the north who came to Sydney during a pivotal time in the history of indigenous Australia and became a great boxer, a spiritual leader and a great father. Arriving in Redfern in the late ’60s against the backdrop of the referendum and the new wave of the Aboriginal Rights Movement , Richard was already a fighter inside and outside the ring.

Dickie was a visionary, and fighter, for the foundation of The Block in Redfern, where the dispossessed came to reconnect with their kin and learn to survive in a white Australia.

The film shows Richard Phillips preparing for his next big fight. At almost 80 and with a professional boxing career spanning 50 years, Richard Phillips’ toughest fights have always been outside of the ring.

Born in the 1930s, this Aboriginal man and his wife survived in a white Australia, raising a family of ten in Redfern, NSW.

Richard’s youth was a mix of cane-cutting and tent boxing before landing in Sydney under the wing of a famous boxing trainer. It is here he raised his family and became involved in the development of what is now known as The Block in Redfern. He has truly seen it all and has survived. He took a bullet to save a stranger, found affinity with a motorcycle gang and later founded a church.

Despite the dispossession and violence that surrounded him, Richard still emanates peace, and preaches love. Boxing has been a guiding light in his life teaching him commitment, respect, to not let your guard down and to carefully consider your opponent. All qualities he points out, that when mirrored in daily life, will lead to a fruitful and positive life amidst adversity.

With the recent passing of his wife, the film shows Richard’s fight intensifying. He needs to lead his family through this toughest of times. He is about to hand the baton to his son Shane whose life work is continuing the legacy of his father, to help his community through its toughest challenges. But there are some burning questions to be answered – about history and family and about what it means to be a fighter!

The result is a highly personal film about a great man who resides with great honour in Australian boxing history who happened to become a great leader in his community.

Soundtrack by Roger Knox – Purchase his music

Film Credits

Heart of the Fight The Life of Dick Blair Produced & Directed by Mark Taylor & Byron Arellano Executive Producer S.Shakthidaran Production Assistants Chris Alexander Kyle White Jerome Mundine Sound Recording Saif Jari Chris Alexander Cinematography Mark Taylor Guido Gonzalez S.Shakthidaran Editor Mark Taylor Sound Mix Marcus Longfoot Full Circle Audio Research & Script by Mark Taylor Motion Graphics Davor Opacek Mark Taylor Filmed on location in Redfern Redfern Community Centre Elouera Tony Mundine Gym The Settlement, Chippendale Archival material courtesy of Margaret Anne Smith The Phillips Family Elaine Kitchener Jim Brown National Film Sound Archive State Library NSW Special Thanks Richard Phillips Yvonne Phillips Cecil Phillips Shane Phillips Lyall Munro Tony Mundine Mick Mundine Terry Hoskins Jim Brown Uncle Chicka Madden Isaac Phillips Brandon Phillips Mark Spinks Wally Car Additional thanks to Nicolette Dixon Roger Knox Nan Warshaw (BloodShot Records) Preston Peachy City of Sydney John Janson-Moore Margaret Anne Smith Davor Opacek Music ‘Bring It on Home to Me’ Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee From the album ‘Sonny & Terry’ © 1973 A&M Records Recordings courtesy of Archive.org ‘Wayward Dreams’ Roger Knox. From the album ‘Stranger in my Land’ © 2013 Bloodshot Records. Recordings courtesy of Nan Warshaw ‘Brisbane Blacks’ Roger Knox. From the album ‘Stranger in my Land’ © 2013 Bloodshot RecordsRecordings courtesy of Nan Warshaw   ‘World Turning’ Yothu Yindi From the album ‘Freedom’ ©  (1993) Mushroom Records

Special dedicated thanks to Margaret Anne Smith for her contributions to this film and her dedication to Australian Independent filmmaking.

© 2015

Cine Esperanza Tribal Warrior Association CuriousWorks

This film has been made with the generous support of the Wales Foundation and Arts Support and the Australia Council for the Arts. Just as importantly, the project was developed in collaboration with a number of families from ‘The Block’ over three years.

Behind the Scenes Heart of the Fight was made in close collaboration with members and young people from the Redfern/ Waterloo/Glebe local community.