THERE is no doubt Orange has lost one of its great people.
Last Thursday John Robinson, aged 60, passed away surrounded by family and friends.
Robinson’s death has obviously had an impact on his family and close friends but it will also leave a gaping hole in the lives of many people in Orange.
Robinson played an important part in Orange’s sporting history and changed the lives of many of those he came in contact with.
He is best known for his success as a boxing coach, with Mick Fabar and brothers Glen, John and Dean Sutherland just some of those who had success under Robinson’s guidance.
Robinson was also an excellent fitness trainer and was involved with Orange CYMS, Orange Hawks, Orange City and Orange Emus in various capacities when he was in the city.
Despite his ability to help people achieve their sporting dreams, he remained humble and never chased the spotlight.
Those who spent time with him said he was a mentor as well as a coach.
IN THE RING
John Robinson had a knack for developing great boxers.
He took up a voluntary position at the Orange PCYC as boxing coach in the early 1980s.
From there he developed one of the largest boxing teams in regional Australia.
“He had guys at state titles, Australia titles, state teams. He had guys representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games. For one year he was one of the Australian Boxing Team coaches,” Mick Fabar explained.
Robinson coached Fabar through his entire career.
The Sutherland brothers, Glen, John and Dean, all benefited from Robinson’s guidance.
“Robbo helped me chase my dream and I achieved it,” Glen Sutherland said.
“My dream was to win an Australian title and I did that with my sixth professional fight.”
Fabar said Robinson’s ability to develop great boxers came from his ‘old school’ methods.
“A lot of people have been touched by what we call his “magic”,” Fabar explained.
“He had a lot of old school techniques but they worked. He helped a lot of people achieve whatever their goals were. He broke it down into achievable goals.”
KEEPING ORANGE FIT
When it came to sport, Robinson’s involvement wasn’t restricted to just boxing.
He knew how to get people fit.
He was the fitness trainer at Orange City Rugby Club from the late 1980s to the 1990s and was involved with premiership-winning sides.
Despite being a huge Lions fan, he coached Orange Emus’ first grade side in 1998 and they finished third in the Central West Rugby Union competition.
Robinson had also been involved with Orange CYMS and Orange Hawks and had even done fitness training for some of Orange’s netballers.
He was happy to share his knowledge with anyone who wanted it and was willing to work.
Robinson moved to Coolangatta in 2001 and continued to help people get fit by running various training groups.
GIVING THAT BIT EXTRA
While obviously a talented and dedicated sports and fitness coach, Robinson was also a mentor.
Those who spent time with him have nothing but praise and respect for him.
“It was more about helping kids and getting them off the streets and giving them something. He was a mentor,” Sutherland said.
“If it wasn’t for his guidance, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Fabar agreed with Sutherland.
“He was very committed to the people he was helping. He was one of those unique guys,” Fabar said.
“He had 100 sons. It didn’t matter if you were trying to win a world title or trying to lose five kilos through boxing, he would help you.
“He was one of those guys who got his greatest happiness from helping others. If our main purpose in life is to make others happy then he passed with flying colours.”
Jason Hamling, the Orange Sports Committee chairman, lived with Robinson when he was younger and saw the amazing work he did with so many people.
“He was a mentor to a lot of people,” Hamling said.
“He’s going to be a huge loss. He took a lot of kids at the PCYC and put them on the right track. He turned them into good sportspeople and good people.
“He was a good teacher and good at what he did.”
It’s no surprise Robinson’s work, all voluntary, was recognised with various awards over the years, including Orange Citizen of the Year.
Robinson lost his brief battle with cancer last Thursday in Orange.
He is survived by his four children, Hayley Williamson, Tim Robinson, Sacha Robinson and Tim Crosby, his mother Henny Carroll and his sisters, Tracy Robinson, Jennifer Keary and Christine Schmidt, as well as extended family.
His father Jack Robinson and brother Phillip Robinson had passed away before his death.
Hayley Williamson said her father was nothing short of amazing.
“Dad was a great man who helped many people and we are deeply saddened by his passing. Our family is very grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from those who knew him. We will miss him dearly, however we take comfort and pride in what he achieved”.
A funeral service will be held for John Robinson today at St Mary’s Catholic Church at 10.30am.
“There is no doubt he will be sadly missed,” Fabar said.