Surf gangs have been protecting their local surf breaks for decades. They were involved in stories of war, violence, death and respect. For good or bad, they provide the glue to many surfing communities around the world, and none more so than for Marubra beach–located 6 miles south of Sydney’s CBD.
Sociologically, surf localism could be understood as the defense system which is activated when someone who has not been invited to our home still sits in our favorite couch.
Founded and based in Maroubra–an eastern suburb of Sydney, New South Wales–the Bra Boys have gained notoriety through violence and alleged links to organised crime, as well as some community activism. The Bra Boys achieved national and international media attention in 2007 with the release of a feature-length documentary entitled Bra Boys: Blood is Thicker than Water, written and directed by members of the group.
Understanding the social importance of a gang like the Bra boys shouldn’t be taken lightly, as this Australian comedian found. Trivialising a group like the Bra Boys wasn’t very sensible, and could have ended in tears if it wasn’t for the actions of a bystander.
Some members of the surf tribe tattoo “My Brother’s Keeper” across the front of their chest. This sentiment was encapsulated in the documentary shown above, which focuses on Jai Abberton. He and his brothers were involved in the death of Anthony ‘Tony’ Hines, a story with several complicated layers.
Abberton avoided a prison sentence, and the story became the basis for an award-winning documentary. It must be difficult to empathise with the type of communities found around the world’s greatest surf spots. If you consider the reasons behind the foundation of the Bra Boys, it becomes clear that their existence sits between good and bad; a world where honest intentions can include violent ramifications.
“When I was about 14, our crew started the Bra Boys, and basically started controlling the place. We said there’s not going to be any heroin in Maroubra anymore, because we didn’t want drugs in the place.”
Jai Abberton, founding member of the Bra Boys.