Rise of thugs who scare Bra Boys

TO core leaders of the notorious surf gang the Bra Boys, the Russell Crowe-narrated documentary about their life in

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Surfer culture has attained legendary status at Maroubra Beach through the Bra Boys. Picture: John Appleyard

Now they fear the worldwide hit has helped spawn a new generation of young thugs who saw instead a homage to violence.

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Russell Crowe flanked by Bra Boys figureheads Koby Abberton (left) and Sunny Abberton at the premiere of documentary Bra Boys at the State Theatre in Sydney.Source:News Corp Australia

The concerns come after self-proclaimed Bra Boy Ray Travers, 20, and his brother Jacksun, 18, were arrested on June 27 and charged over the murder of Peter Hofmann, 68 — found stabbed to death in the Ford Laser he called home on a Maroubra street.

The new generation are ice-fuelled teenagers and young men whose thuggery and marathon debauchery shocks even Bra Boys veterans, no strangers to fists, machismo and hedonistic excess.

And the Bra Boys leaders are angry these new “wannabe outlaws” are claiming affiliation or membership of their group and sport the gang’s trademark “My brother’s keeper” tattoo arcing across their chests or stomachs.

Mr Hofmann’s murder once again thrust the Bra Boys into the headlines 10 years after the gang — formed in 1990 — found world-wide fame through the controversial documentary.

“We are wary of these guys coming through who are getting the tattoos and using the name.”

Koby Abberton, the charismatic founder and “face” of the Bra Boys, and core member John Gannon — both stars of the film — deny the Travers brothers are affiliated with their group.

They are concerned that other young men are a part of a “rogue” fringe group trading on the Bra Boys name.

According to Gannon, some of these young men are heavy users of easily accessible drugs and possess a much more violent streak. He fears they are on the rise.

“These guys are at a level of thuggery that you didn’t see back in our day,” says Gannon, now a fitness trainer who was a key member of the group throughout the ’90s and 2000s.

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A roadside tribute to murdered homeless man Peter Hofmann, killed while living in his car.Source:News Corp Australia

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Peter Hofmann was found stabbed to death.Source:News Corp Australia

The Bra Boys, Gannon said, were “no angels”, but “this goes way beyond anything we used to do”.

“This is gutless, shocking stuff,” he says. “It’s not what we’re about. And we are wary of these guys coming through who are getting the tattoos and using the name.

“We want to move away from the thuggery stuff.

“It’s really not what we want to be about.”

Abberton also denies any Bra Boys link to Peter Hofmann’s death.

“It has nothing to do with us,” he said when contacted at his home in Bali last week.

Central Bra Boys member Mark Mathews, who has forged a career as a big wave surfer and motivational speaker, recently criticised what he called a “divide” in Maroubra which he says came about soon after the release of the documentary.

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Ray Travers (right) with the My Brother’s Keeper tattoo worn by many Bra Boys, who along with brother Jacksun has been charged with Peter Hofmann’s murder.Source:The Sunday Telegraph

“It started to become about drugs and violence,” Mathews said in a recent interview with Stab surfing magazine.

“If it wasn’t proving yourself fighting, it was proving how long you could bend for, how many nights you could stay up, how many drugs you could take, and that’s when it got split,” he says.

He believes the documentary “gave a message that was really good and was multicultural ... but I also think it made the young generation of kids growing up here think that it was all about fighting at Maroubra and causing trouble. So many kids wanted to be Bra Boys because of how famous the doco was. That part of it was kind of shit.”

Gannon agrees the destigmatisation of ice — easily available and cheap — has caused immeasurable damage to the area.

“When we were coming through, heroin was this big, serious drug and if you did it you were a junkie, basically,” he says.

“Now ice is the big thing but there’s no real stigma attached to it.

“It’s almost seen as cool to do it. And it’s cost the area so much in terms of just the potential we see wasted all the time.

“These kids come through, they’re great surfers and all of a sudden they stop surfing and ... and then we’ve lost them. So we try to keep them in the surf ... keep them playing footy, keep them at school. And when you talk about fixing it there are not many answers.”

Originally published as Rise of thugs who scare Bra Boys

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Article Rise of thugs who scare Bra Boys compiled by www.news.com.au