Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Angles, Cyril Joseph (1906–1962)

by John Ritchie

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Cyril Joseph Angles (1906-1962), sporting commentator, was born on 1 October 1906 at Surry Hills, Sydney, second of eleven children of Victor Emmanuel Angles, labourer, and his wife Ethel Josephine, née Smith, both Sydneysiders. His mother averred that Cyril cried until he was eighteen months old. The family shifted to the Kensington district when he was 4 and he was later sent to Marist Brothers' High School, Darlinghurst, where he distinguished himself as a sprinter in 1919. Having ridden his pony at Payten's paddock, Randwick, he was apprenticed as a jockey to Jack Phoenix, but put on weight and left after two years. By then he belonged to the sub-culture of the turf which flourished around the five courses near his home and he next worked as a clerk for his father, 'Lordy' Angles, who had become a bookie. Through the influence of his brother Fred, a big punter, in 1924 Cyril was employed as a tipster and commission agent by the self-styled 'Mastermind of the Turf' Rufe Naylor who got him a job in 1931 with radio station 2KY.  

Encouraged in his new career by Emil Voigt, Angles broadcast between thirty and fifty-eight races each week. He moved to 2UW by February 1935, forming a popular racing service with his former rival Charles Lawrence, and was involved in the protracted legal struggle between that station and the Victoria Park Racing Club in 1936-38 over the right to call races from outside the track. Before being allowed to broadcast on course, Angles covered events from the laundry of a flat overlooking the Kensington track, from a roost in the branches of a Moreton Bay fig-tree flanking Warwick Farm, from a chair precariously perched upon a table on the back of a lorry that parked next to Rosehill and from a platform atop some rickety scaffolding at Ascot.

The accuracy of his incisive and unhurried descriptions, delivered in a flat, mechanical and slightly abrasive voice, established his reputation and in 1940 he was promoted head of 2UW's sporting department. Rejected as medically unfit for service in World War II, Angles joined 2GB on 1 December 1945 as the highest-paid broadcaster in Australia. He was to return to 2UW by January 1958. During his career he estimated that he had called 30,00 horse, trotting and greyhound races, as well as commenting on a sporting gallimaufry that included boxing, wrestling, athletics, cycling, ice-hockey, football, cricket, swimming and most other codes down to ping-pong. He even appeared in a revue, They're Racing, with George Wallace junior at Brisbane's Theatre Royal in May 1949. With his income secure, Angles had stopped betting as early as 1938—you 'can't beat the game'—but frugality was foreign to him. Open hearted, he did not know how to refuse a request and gave his money away, saying 'she'll be apples'. With wavy hair combed carefully back, sharp eyes, arched brows, prominent teeth and a full lower lip, he dressed in a dark suit and tie, and was overweight, cheerful and loyal 'from go to whoa'.

On 17 November 1928 Angles had married Ivy Janet Manders at St Michael's Anglican Church, Surry Hills. They had met when both of them were aged 16 and been sweethearts ever since. She meant 'the world' to him and was a 'good little brick' who took the bad times with the good. Angles was a devoted husband and the proud father of three daughters, his 'little princesses'. A keen yachtsman, tennis and billiard player, he belonged to City Tattersall's, the Albert and the Professional Musicians' clubs; he owned a much-thumbed copy of Don Athaldo's Health, Strength & Muscular Power and his favourite author was Edgar Wallace. For the last seven years of his life Angles fought a battle with cancer, for which he underwent radium treatment and numerous operations. Survived by his wife and daughters, he died of cardiac disease on 29 July 1962 at his East Lindfield home and was buried with Catholic rites in Northern Suburbs cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Wireless Weekly, 15 Feb 1935, 11 Dec 1936, 29 Jan 1937, 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Sept 1938
  • Parade, Oct 1964
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 1962
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 24 June, 1 July 1979
  • Angles papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

John Ritchie, 'Angles, Cyril Joseph (1906–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/angles-cyril-joseph-9367/text16453, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 20 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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