September 2, 2009 / 9:11 AM / 8 years ago

Notorious Sydney surfing gang tell all in new book

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - They grew up poor in the shadows of a maximum security prison and a pristine South Pacific beach -- perhaps it’s no surprising the Abberton brothers became professional surf champions as well as founding members of a violent gang.

Sunny, Jai and Koby, the so-called “Bra Boys” who were named after their Sydney beach suburb Maroubra, made a documentary about their lives in 2007, which was narrated by Russell Crowe.

The film broke box office records, drawing audiences with its gritty expose of the drugs and despair that shape the lives of these urban surfers.

The brothers released in Australia last month the biographical book “My Brothers Keeper: the official Bra Boys story,” which eldest brother Sunny Abberton said aims to give youths from bad homes and neighborhoods hope.

Abberton recently spoke to Reuters.

Q: What prompted you to tell your story?

A: “We had a very positive response to the movie, it really was successful. We received so many supportive letters and emails. The book especially will give a lot of kids and people who grew up in our circumstances a good inspiration.”

Q: You grew up in a disadvantaged background, did this make it more difficult for you to become a successful professional surfer and movie maker?

A: “Sometimes there is that real stereotype placed on kids from disadvantaged areas, I think that was always hanging over us. A lot of kids like us grow up angry and you do want to take out your frustrations. I think the ocean was our outlet to get that anger out, to get it out in a positive way, you know attack the waves. If we’d grown up outside of the ocean, I don’t think we would have made it.”

Q: Who exactly are the Bra Boys?

A: ”We’ve been called a gang and stuff like that, but we don’t recruit and that’s the difference. We’ve all grown up together. There’s a real bond which gives kids that pride to belong to something which is very powerful. We have 12 professional athletes, which is quite amazing that kids from our background could rise above the social hardships. The ‘Bra Boys’ are really just a bunch of mates who have spurred each other. There’s now about 500 members. We’re not all surfers, there’s footballers, boxers, grandfathers, really just a whole mix, a real community.

Q: “My Brothers Keeper” is the motto of the Bra boys and most of your members have it tattooed on their body. Where does this come from and what does it mean?

A: “It’s a bible quote. One of the lines is ”I am the gatherer of lost children“ and we thought ”we are the lost children.“ We took it to mean, that no matter what you face in life you can rise above it, as long as we were all together nothing could effect us.”

Q: Why do the Bra Boys have a bad reputation? There’s a sense of fear when your name is mentioned.

A: “It definitely is a sub-culture of youth, we don’t really fit into the norm of general society. The reputation has been there for years, so in one sense it’s inherited. Also, we have led pretty adventurous lives.”

Q: What advice would you give disadvantaged youths?

A: “Don’t give up! Find a sport, an outlet, I’d say the ocean. Sometimes kids from hard backgrounds don’t fit into team sports, so surfing is perfect as you don’t need anyone. It doesn’t matter what you’re facing at home, you can achieve it and you will find the world will help you do it.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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