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'Pop would be proud as punch': Wally Carr's fighting spirit inspires Storm

A beaming Josh Addo-Carr said "Pop would be proud as punch" after Melbourne beat the Knights in a fitting tribute to his mentor and lifelong inspiration.

The Storm players all wore his late grandfather Wally Carr's name on the inside of their jersey collar in the 26-16 win for Indigenous Round and that gesture "meant the world" to Addo-Carr.

Wally Carr was a great boxer and regarded as one of Australia's best during his pomp in the 1970s where he won a plethora of state and national titles.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy shared inspirational stories about the legendary Indigenous fighter with the players the night before the game and after losing skipper Cameron Smith to injury in the first half, they played with the toughness and commitment that Carr epitomised in more than 100 bouts.  

"We have a saying here that 'if it matters to one of us, it matters to all of us' so the boys and the club have been really supportive," Addo-Carr said.

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"I am super proud of what the Storm has done for me and my family and it is something I will never forget

"Craig shared a story about my grandfather last night and said how proud he was as an Indigenous man of who he was. That is one of our trademarks at the club -  being proud of the club, who you are and your performance.

"My grandfather obviously worked hard to be at the level he was and we had to put the effort in.

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"It was very special. Pop would be looking down, proud as punch. He’d be thinking that he was back in his boxing days when he was his famous and a star. I do really miss him.

"My grandfather told me to come down here before I signed with the Storm, and that was a big part of why I came here."

Wally used to give Addo-Carr pocket money when he was a junior for every try he scored and their bond became unbreakable.

Before Carr died in 2019 he had met most of the Storm players at a training camp and won them over with his humility and his story of beating the odds.

"So it was definitely emotional when Craig shared a couple of stories," Addo-Carr, a proud Wiradjuri man, said.

"Pop was one of the last boxers to fight in tents. Back in the day they used to travel around in boxing tents.

"Before he became a professional fighter he started fighting when he was 16 years of age. That was his living.

The late, great Wally Carr with Storm international Josh Addo-Carr.
The late, great Wally Carr with Storm international Josh Addo-Carr. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"I don’t know how much they earned but he used to travel around with circuses and they’d fight in tents and nominate anyone in the crowd to fight.

"I was so happy that Craig shared the story."

Bellamy was a boxing fan growing up and had taken a keen interest in Wally and his exploits before Addo-Carr joined the club.

"He was the person Josh really looked up to in life and Wally’s record as a boxer in Australian boxing is unparalleled. He had 101 fights and held eight Australian titles at different weight divisions," Bellamy said.

"He came down to one of our camps in Geelong. He was supposed to stay for four hours and ended up staying for four days.

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"That is how much he enjoyed it and how much we enjoyed having him around, a gifted athlete like that went through a real tough upbringing and turned into the man he did.

“The one thing I learned about Wally Carr watching him on TV and ring-side is how tough he was and that he was a really proud man.

"They are a couple of traits that we wanted to show on the field today – tough and proud of what we do.

"It was Indigenous Round and being Josh’s grandfather and the person and athlete he was…and most of the guys got to meet him, it was a pretty special day for Josh. Hopefully he’ll remember this."

Nicho Hynes, who came off the bench in the win over the Storm, never met Wally but said his story and the significance of the Indigenous Round occasion resonated with him "massively".

"Craig told us a bit of a yarn last night about Wally and how tough he was and what he had done to make his name. All the boys wanted to put a big effort in after that and got the job done for him," Hynes, also a Wiradjuri man, said.

"It gave me chills and sent shivers down my spine hearing the story. He is an icon in the Indigenous world and meant a lot to everyone here at the club

"That was huge. He was Josh’s grandfather and if it means something to Josh it means something to all of us, especially me being an Indigenous fella as well."

Addo-Carr has given some of his jerseys away for a good cause, but the one he wore on Sunday may be a different story.

"It was a special day … and you’re definitely not taking that jersey off me," Addo-Carr grinned as he walked back to the sheds to savour a win to remember.