Australian citizens were victim to some of the cruelest measures on the planet during the very recent Covid pandemic, the government even sent the unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic packing after landing on Australian shores.
Boxing manager and promoter Tony Tolj’s story during this unprecedented time brings us a tale of near human torture, pulling off the un-thinkable for his fighters in a state of constant quarantine.
“I did a show on the 6th March in 2020. The pandemic had just started rumbling at that time, then a week or two later disaster hit and the World just pressed stop! We couldn’t even leave our houses most the time, and nobody is working. Even the Moloney’s (Andrew & Jason) were looking to do some extra work because they have young kids and bills to pay.”
Tony Tolj promotes the series Thunderdome in his native Perth and has been the career long manager of twin brothers Andrew and Jason Moloney. Along with his large stable of fighters, both the Moloney brothers and Thunderdome were in a precarious position.
“I was talking to Top Rank, telling them what a complete disaster everything is. They were telling we they wanted to kick things off again, but were struggling for fighters. They said if we could get there, they would get the Moloney’s some opportunities.
“I had to move heaven and earth to get those boys out of Australia. I got in touch with government officials and devised a strategy for them to grant us permission to leave. You had to get an exemption to leave the country at the time. To be honest, you are just stumbling into the unknown. They were all making up rules as they went along, you have to just go along and try make it work for you and your fighters.”
During the harshest of the periods for Australia in 2020 and 2021, Tolj saw Jason Moloney go 2-1 in the US with wins over Leonardo Baez and Joshua Greer Jr and losing to World champion Naoya Inoue in-between those victories. Twin brother Andrew Moloney went through a turbulent and unjust trilogy with Joshua Franco for the WBA Super Flyweight World title, losing two and one fight being scored a no-contest.
“Problem was that when we came back to Australia we would have to do two weeks of quarantine in the hotel when we got to Melbourne or Sydney. After the two weeks the boys could go home, but because I live in Perth, I would then have to do another two weeks when I went to a different state, I’m doing four weeks of it every time I come back. I did six months of quarantine altogether.
“Then shortly after that is all finished I had Bruno Tarimo fighting in Manchester. The fight finished at 22:30 on the Parker/Chisora card, by midnight I’m at the airport, then two or three hours after I land in Australia I go to Andrew Moloney’s fight in Sydney. Huge fight for him considering it was his first fight back since the Franco stuff, so I had to be there.
“Then my problem was that I was in New South Wales for Andrew’s fight, I was then locked out of Western Australia where I live because they had different rules. I stayed with my mate Angelo Hyder for a couple of months, it stopped me from doing one of my shows.”
Tolj’s Thunderdome series also took a serious hit during the period. Pre-pandemic Tolj would promote a well matched card in his home city of Perth nearly every calendar month, which depleted to just four shows in two years. However, Tony Tolj and his treasured promotional company is back in the swing of things.
“Me and Andrew (Moloney) are off to the WBO convention in Puerto Rico. Then I’m off to the WBC version with Jason (Moloney) in Mexico as he won his final eliminator. We then have our 40th Anniversary show on the 25th November. We will definitely look to make that a big deal.”