The Bra Boys

Bra Boys

The Bra Boys are a surfing group centered around the Sydney suburb of Maroubra. The group is named after their suburb: "Marou-BRA." Members of the group often tattoo "Bra Boys" and the Maroubra postal code (2035) on their back.

Prominent members include the Abberton brothers, Jai, professional big wave surfing champion Koby Abberton, and Rugby League players Reni Maitua, John Sutton and Byron Ford. Also surfers Mark Matthews, Evan Faulks and Richie Vas.

In May 2005 Jai was acquitted of a 2003 murder. Koby was handed a suspended nine month jail sentence after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice in the same matter.

In late 2002, some members of the group attending a birthday party at the Coogee-Randwick RSL Club were involved in a brawl with a large group of off-duty Waverley policemen and policewomen leaving a Christmas party on the same premises.

In August 2005, the group led a protest of 100 people against parking meters near the local beaches.

Following the Cronulla riot, in which the group was not involved but was subsequently targeted, Jai and Koby held well-publicised meetings with other uninvolved groups to help ease tensions.

A movie about the Bra Boys, entitled Bra Boys had its premiere in Sydney on the 9th of March, 2007 and was released on the 15th of March, 2007. It will tell the story of the Bra Boys and is narrated by Russell Crowe.

The Bra Boys are linked with the Maroubra Surfers Association.



Koby Abberton

Sunny Abberton



My Brother's Keeper


Media Man Australia is delighted to have assisted ABC 'Australian Story' in relation to The Bra Boys feature, 'Sons Of Beaches'

Media Man Australia is delighted to have been able to champion the good name of The Bra Boys on Radio 2GB in relation to "What Is Success" and community spirit - 24th December 2006

Press Releases

ABC Australian Story


The Bra Boys (movie released in 2007)

Maroubra Surfers Association


Fairfax - Meet The Bra Boy

Media Man Australia Bra Boys Movie Review


Bra Boys is one of the most powerful, amazing and inspirational films I have ever seen. A modern day classic cult film that will go down in history. Society can learn much from this. - Greg Tingle, Media Man Australia.


Bra Boys, by Paul Byrnes , Reviewer
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

The Australian working-class male is putting his foot down, in a hob-nailed boot.

Genre Documentary
Run Time 85 minutes
Rated M
Country Australia
Director Sunny Abberton
Rating 2 stars

BY ONE DEFINITION, documentary is what the middle classes do to the working classes. That sense of superiority is always difficult to avoid when stories are told from the outside. The family in Sylvania Waters would have told a different story than the one told by the British film crew, for instance.

That's what I found compelling about Bra Boys. It's completely from within the fold of the group of Maroubra surfers who call themselves the Bra Boys. You may not come out liking them but the film gives an extraordinary insight into the aggressive culture that formed them. It's the debut of a new style of "gangsta" surf movie that has its antecedents in US subculture films such as Dogtown and Z boys (2001), and an earlier Australian genre: the bushranging film.

The four Abberton brothers - Sunny, Jai, Koby and, to a lesser extent, Dakota (the youngest, who has little presence in the film) - are a lot like the Kelly gang, riding surfboards instead of horses. Their attitudes are similar - a sentimental attachment to family, a hatred of the police, a distrust of anyone outside the tribe. There's also a matriarch, the boys' late grandmother, Mavis, who took over raising them while their mother, Lynn, struggled with heroin addiction. And there's a murder trial, the much-publicised case in which Jai Abberton was charged with killing fellow Bra Boy and standover man Tony Hines, while Koby was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, by lying to police about the killing.

In a sense, this film, co-directed by Sunny Abberton and fellow Bra Boy Macario de Souza, is their version of Ned Kelly's famous Jerilderie letter. In its own way, it has a similar authenticity, even eloquence, although it could also be seen as a defence of the thug life and a massive exercise in self-promotion. The addition of Russell Crowe as reader of an almost unnecessary narration confirms the idea that it's at least partly an exercise in outlaw chic. The trouble is, the Abbertons want it both ways, to be respected as iron-bar toughs, while rejecting the label of hardened gangsters.

If you listen to the police, the Bra Boys are a gang of thugs with ties to drug-dealing and organised crime. According to the Bra Boys themselves, they are surfing friends from difficult backgrounds who guard their own territory and never back down. Koby Abberton, famous now as a big wave surfer (and something of a tattoo model), says in one interview on the web (at that the gang drove heroin dealers out of Maroubra. "We'd hear of a house that was selling it and we'd go and kick the door in and sort it out ... Today, by comparison, nobody is doing heroin in Maroubra."

It's not really necessary to believe him to have doubts about the police version of who the Bra Boys are. The bad blood between cops and Maroubra surfers goes back years and is regularly rekindled. The film revisits the night of December 22, 2002, when the Bra Boys took on the cops at the Coogee RSL and won. According to the film, 200 Bra Boys were attending the 21st birthday party of one of their own, pro-surfer Mark Matthews, when a brawl broke out with off-duty members of the force, who were holding their annual Christmas party on the floor above.

It also shows us ample evidence that the police could hardly not have been interested in their activities. In early scenes, we see several bare-knuckle, one-on-one street fights and one large all-in brawl, involving knives and clubs. These were all shot by amateur photographers and are presented as evidence of the group's toughness, a kind of video bragging. Other footage shows us their fun-loving side, reserved for days when the surf is flat. We see one guy setting himself alight and jumping off a cliff into the sea, others dancing on the roof of a State Transit Authority bus during a series of big outdoor parties. These are largely all-male affairs; they're not called the Bra Persons, after all.

Perhaps the least satisfying aspect of the film is the lack of detail about the events of August 5, 2003, when Jai Abberton shot Hines and dumped his body off the cliffs at Mistral Point. Jai says he and Hines were once good mates; that Hines suspected him and two others of sleeping with his girlfriend (which Jai doesn't comment upon); that it was self-defence. We don't learn of the testimony offered in court that Hines was in the front seat of the car, when Jai shot him from the back seat or what Koby did that night when he found out what had happened. I suppose it's not surprising that the film lacks candour about these events; they were the basis for the charges and were extensively aired in court.

Bra Boys is an accomplished, if contradictory, piece of work. It gives a vivid sense of the cult of masculinity in a working-class Sydney beach suburb, the rampant physicality that values a brawl as much as a barrel, and it's just as clearly a work of bravado, a legend-making exercise, but I didn't mind that. It gives us a glimpse of an otherwise closed world, with its own rules and rituals, told in the first person. It's like looking at a side of Australian male culture that has all but disappeared from our media - except perhaps in rugby league.

The Bra Boys don't need to bring back the biff; they never lost it in the first place.



Google News search for "Bra Boys"


Bra Boy rides a giant wave of sponsorship opportunity, by Simon Canning - 8th March 2007
(Credit: The Australian)

KOBY Abberton hasn't seen a big wave in more than a year, yet he is riding a swell of publicity that has drinking mate John Singleton ready to punt that the Bra Boy gang member is the next big thing, Australia's alternative Ian Thorpe.

Last night Koby and brothers Sunny and Jai looked on as Sydney celebrities walked the red carpet to the premiere of their autobiographical flick Bra Boys.

It was the next stage of the remaking of the brothers after four headline-grabbing years that began with Jai being charged with the murder of a notorious standover man from the Sydney beachside suburb of Maroubra.

It is now the business of being the Abbertons. The Bra Boys, they insist, will never be a brand, but the big wave champion and his band of brothers are growing rapidly beyond the Maroubra patch where they began life as grommets fighting to survive in a world of disadvantage.

In recent weeks the Boys have been all over the likes of fashion magazine Marie Claire, Nova radio, talkback radio and the Seven Network's Sunrise.

Koby is a name to be traded on. Sunglasses and accessories brand Oakley saw it when he was on top as the world's best big-wave rider but canned a $1million five-year deal during Jai's trial and acquittal, and Koby's subsequent charge and conviction for lying to police.

Other sponsors also deserted Koby. The sentence was suspended and Koby is rebuilding his value to sponsors.

Singo stands at the head of the queue, signing Koby as the face of his Bondi Blonde beer and luring him into a bikini model stunt with Paris Hilton in January that reaped acres of coverage for the brand during what journos call the silly season.

"Bondi Blonde will be the first of many sponsors," Singleton says. "Koby will be a success and he is going to make a lot more money overseas than in Australia, and he can certainly transcend the surf. There is nothing to dislike about Koby; he is quick-witted and he has no pretensions. When you stroll out with Koby, you are with royalty; he can talk to anyone."

Bondi Blonde's first ad starring the surfer goes to air next week.

Already the brands are beckoning. Last year the Bra Boys launched their clothing label - My Brother's Keeper - and the surf brands are circling. Singo believes it won't be long before mainstream brands dive in. Emerging sunglasses brand Sabre was the first to come on board last August, filling the void left by Oakley's hasty retreat.

"We were big admirers of Koby. He is a great person to represent our brand," Sabre sales manager Tania Rickards says. "We signed Koby in August and we were the first. He is fantastic. Any time there is an opportunity to promote our brand, he is in there.

"I think he has huge potential, he is so professional no matter what has been thrown at him."

Sabre was followed by surfwear brand Analog last November, then by publicly listed Globe last December.

While sponsors are re-engaging with Koby and his brothers on the back of a seemingly endless wave of publicity that surrounds the Bra Boys, one sponsor in particular never left the surfer even in his darkest days.

Brett Warner spotted Koby's talent early, shaped boards that met the challenge of surfing monster waves and is reaping the benefits of his re-ascending star.

"As an international star he is insane and I have not even started to deal with Koby internationally yet," Warner says. "I think he is someone who can become larger than the surfing industry."

Surprisingly, and despite the notoriety that has dogged Koby in recent years, Warner sees the most immediate results of his business relationship through the grommets surfing Sydney's beaches. "He has a big heart and the kids look up to him," he says. "They see him surfing my design and they come in wanting to have the same as Koby."

For Koby, Sunny (who directed the film) and Jai (who remains media shy), the movie is about telling their story their way, unhindered by the selective reporting of journalists.

They also hope to use the movie as a springboard for a charity, Streets to the Beach, helping underprivileged youngsters to connect with the beach and hopefully find salvation in the surf as they did.

It is where the comparison with Thorpe comes in.

Koby highlights Thorpe's swimming achievements as helping him to launch his charities and give something back to Australian youngsters.

"I know there are kids that look up to me and I want to do something with that. I can talk to kids that Ian might not be able to talk to. They may be going through things that I have gone through and I can help them get over that."

Ironically, Thorpe (perhaps the most successful example of a sports star leveraging sponsorship) and Koby have become friends behind the scenes and traded ideas about their charities.

Regardless of the move to set up the charity, Singleton says the value of Koby for sponsors within and outside of surfing will be maintained only as long as he keeps succeeding in the surf.

He also notes that when you buy Koby, you buy into the Bra Boys and Sunny and Jai.

"It's like saying if you get Mick Jagger, you get the Rolling Stones," Singleton says. "But he will need to win something big or ride some monster wave."

Another key part of the future, to bring in more sponsors and more deals, involves sanding some of Koby's rougher edges, much like shaping a surfboard.

Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, who narrates the film, businessman Peter Holmes a Court and Singleton are teaching the surfer how to handle the media.

"I've been doing some media training and trying to stray away from the life I have led until now," he says.

"I'm still the most publicised surfer in Australia next to Layne Beachley; she is awesome. But I'm a happy-go-lucky person and I live life to the fullest. I think I help people. Yes, I have got issues, but I guess that makes me interesting. But what I was born to do was surf big waves."