In 1991, Father Dave opened the church hall in Dulwich Hill as a place for where at risk youth could get fitness and martial arts training. This evolved to the Holy Trinity Youth Centre and Fight Club which officially opened in 1994. Father Dave says “When I opened the Youth Centre, 9 out of 10 kids we were dealing with had heroin issues. I lost a lot of kids, it was like a bloody war zone, it really was.”
Since then Father Dave has worked predominantly with young people suffering substance abuse issues. He cites boxing as an amazing tool that can not only break the cycle of behavior, but also pull people away from negative influences and peer groups.
Father Dave holds the world record for the longest continuous boxing match, an astonishing 120 rounds. He was the Marrickville Citizen of the Year in 1997 and 2009, and was nominated for Australian of the Year in 2005 and 2009. He continues to serve as Parish Priest of the Holy Trinity church in Dulwich Hill.
Luke Cornish (aka E.L.K.)
Luke is a Sydney-based artist who creates unique, powerful images from handmade stencils. His rise within the contemporary art world has been meteoric, becoming the first artist to be nominated for the Archibald Prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils.
“I knew straight away that Father Dave is the person I wanted to paint for this project” says Luke. “We don’t have male role models anymore, with the breakdown of the family unit. Many kids don’t have anyone to look up to. I certainly didn’t have any role models growing up. Not positive ones anyway.”