Retired Sydney bookmaker and luxury property mogul Robert Blann, once known as “king of the ring”, has died from illness at age 85.
Mr Blann, known by his nickname “Bob”, was born in the inner suburbs of Sydney, the only child of a hairbrush factory worker and a wharfie who played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He is survived by his four children Glen, Jodie, Meegan and Christopher.
Venture capitalist Bob Blann died last week.  
Mr Blann was born into poverty, leaving Cleveland Street High School at just 14 years old to work in a paint shop. He saved money until he was able to buy a licence to become a bookmaker, a role in which he eventually looked after high-profile clients including the late Kerry Packer.
“He was so humble, so private,” Mr Blann’s younger son, Christopher, said.
“All of the opportunities that he provided me and all my siblings is something that we will be forever indebted to him for. He was so old school. His responsibility was to provide food, clothing, shelter because he didn’t have that.”
The intensely private bookmaker spent 20 years on Sydney racetracks, and at one point was considered the best performing in terms of turnover. Newspapers reported that between 1982 and 1983 he accepted more than $39 million in bets.
Mr Blann’s early career was at times colourful. In 1982, he and Australian racing identity Robbie Waterhouse were charged with improper conduct by the Australian Jockey Club for an altercation over money.
Mr Blann quit bookmaking in early 1984, claiming it was no longer a money-making business. Just months prior, he was disqualified from bookmaking for 12 months by the AJC for allegedly accepting bets away from the track. He denied the claims and tried to appeal the decision.
In his later life, Mr Blann became chairman and part owner of Howard Financial Services, a financial planning and investment management firm. His post-bookmaking life also included a stint as chairman and part owner of former bloodstock company, Blandford Park.
Mr Blann made headlines in recent years for his large investments in property across Victoria and NSW, specifically the Palm Beach beachfront house he bought in 2009 for almost $12 million and the $40 million 515sqm apartment on the 61st floor of One Barangaroo.
He died on Friday, June 23, at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
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