Joe Vella l-Bokser
He emigrated to Sydney, Australia at the tender age of 16, following the footsteps of his elder brothers. An important facet of our culture which the young Joe took with him to the other side of the globe was his doze of għana which he had grown accustomed to listen on the Rediffusion service.
His initial five years were spent laboring with the Mount Isa Mines (MIM) company, then Australia's largest employer, in Queensland where he laid the railway lines spreading into freshly excavated terrain to facilitate the mining of copper.
Vella subsequently moved to Wetherill Park in New South Wales where he had a go at boxing, working his way to become the hero of the substantial Maltese community, on winning Australia's super middleweight title and therefore boxing champion in 1976, hence his nickname, when he beat Fiji-born Alipate Korovou at the South Sydney Rugby League Club. He lost the same title to Korovou in 1977. He later took the occupation of a taxi driver.
Vella started folksinging in 1977, with Ninu Galea l-Kalora and Salvu Galea tal-Kalora, and then sang with Loretu Vella tas-Siċċu and Saver Bonanno Tal-Manikata, a close relative of his. His has folk sang with the major Maltese folksingers visiting Australia.
In his long summer visit to Malta in 2013 he has been invited to perform as many as four times a week, especially with għana making a significant comeback.
Joe Il-Bokser performed in Għaxaq on 2 August 2013, during an event organized by Mikiel Cutajar Is-Superstar, the Brooklyn Bar on the 9th August, the PL club in Żejtun and Klabb tal-Boċċi San Ġorġ in Qormi on the 30th August and in Mġarr, together with the folksingers close to his paternal home, Manikata. His linguistic content in the vernacular contains of a more Semitic element than current spoken Maltese. His lyrics bear no malice, and he offers a strong witful challenge to the leading expontents of għana.
His visit to Malta in 2013 was openly welcomed by both folksingers and enthusiasts alike. He was interviewed for the televised One News in Malta on Sunday 1 September 2013.