01 March 2011

Slain racing identity's "knockabout" past

The Sydney Morning Herald, reporting on the murder of racing identity Les Samba, offered this potted biography:
"Samba, a former male stripper, ... was described yesterday as a knockabout character. Prominent trainer David Hayes said Samba was ''colourful'' and likeable. Samba started out as a small-time trainer at Morphettville in South Australia, winning races with a very small team. He was one of the main players in a group of nightclubs in Adelaide's Hindley Street, dealings that brought him into contact with notorious Sydney criminal Abe Saffron. He later went to Perth and took over the training of George Way's team after Way was disqualified for 11 years for doping horses with ''elephant juice''. Samba never stopped bragging about how he had made a hit-and-run visit to Victoria with a horse from South Australia in the 1980s and won so much money that not enough bags had been produced to carry the money back over border. His financial dealings have long been of interest to authorities. Between 1999 and 2002, he and his wife, Deirdre, were investigated by the National Crime Authority and the (Australian) Tax Office over their failure to declare $1.2 million in income. Samba, who in late 1999 told authorities that he derived most of his money from gambling, declared bankruptcy to avoid paying tax on the income."

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