How Arthur Tunstall Enraged The Tyrants
'With foot in mouth, Tunstall heads for Melbourne' The Age 2/2/2006

Arthur Tunstall has never been one to hold back an opinion. Lock up the bleeding hearts, warn the feminists, Kiwis, disabled athletes — and Cathy Freeman...

Arthur Tunstall, 84 this week, has been invited as an official guest to next month's Commonwealth Games — his 11th — and he's extremely pleased no one will have any trouble understanding him. Returning to a well-worn refrain, Tunstall, the secretary of Boxing NSW, is glad no Tower of Babel is needed in Melbourne.

"The thing about the Commonwealth Games is that it's about one-third of the population of the world and the beauty of it is that everybody can speak English. I don't mean that in a derogatory way but the fact is if you wish to communicate with anybody from another country, you can do it quite easily," Tunstall explained. "Whereas if you go to the Olympics, you have a situation where, if you want to speak to somebody, in most cases you have to get an interpreter."

Perry Crosswhite, chief executive of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, allowed himself an "Oh dear", before confirming that Tunstall, who was not invited to Manchester four years ago, would be back.

"Arthur's a life member of the association but he's certainly not involved with us anymore," Crosswhite said. "Ron Walker invited him and he'll be here."

Auckland in 1990 probably wasn't the most diplomatic place to suggest New Zealand be considered the seventh and eighth states of Australia. Four years later came his public rebuke of Cathy Freeman for carrying both Aboriginal and Australian flags on her victory lap in Canada, and his description of disabled athletes as an embarrassment.

Nor was a speech to the Olympic Writers and Photographers' Association in 1998 the best place to crack jokes about Aborigines and Jews.

Tunstall said criticism was always part of life.

"If you're the boss of the team, you've got to make decisions and you certainly won't please everyone," he said. "I've never believed in mucking around. If you're going to say something, then that's the way it is. Unfortunately, today, Australia is losing it's own identity for the simple reason everybody wants to be politically correct. Nobody tells jokes any more."

This week, Tunstall sent his 39th letter to NSW Sports Minister Sandra Nori appealing against the ban that bars boys from boxing until they turn 14. He expects the same reply: when the Government changes policy, they'll let him know. But women? That's a different matter.

"I don't think their bodies are there to be knocked around," he said.