Mario Fenech holds a place in Australian sporting history as one of the most passionate Rugby League players to play the game. Today Mario continues to be acknowledged for his ongoing contribution to Rugby League and the wider Community.
Since retiring as a player 15 years ago, Mario has remained in the media spotlight. Among other media engagements, Mario plays the lovable character (‘the Falcon’) on Channel Nine’s award winning Footy Show, while also fulfilling his role as the NRL Sponsorship Manager.
Mario’s reputation as a player and his work in the media and community have seen Mario amass a huge fan base that extends across 3 generations. Mario is just as popular with the younger generation who know him as the Falcon as he is with those who followed his Rugby League career. You only need to walk down the street with Mario to experience his popularity with people of all ages and cultures who want a photo with him, an autograph or just to shake his hand.
Mario has a face that people instantly recognise and the ability to gain rapport with literally anyone he comes into contact with. These attributes along with the diversity of his fan base place Mario in high demand with companies wanting to increase awareness and acceptance of their brands. Put simply - people trust the brands and companies Mario is associated with.
Mario is also known as a great story teller and motivator with a knack for captivating an audience. He is highly sought after as a key-note speaker and for guest appearances at corporate functions.
Schools also recognise Mario as an important role model for our youth. Mario overcame peer pressure to remain a non-drinker, he experienced bullying first hand and he knows how self-respect and self-believe can turn challenges into achievements. Mario is often invited to schools to tell his story and to educate students on the importance of correct diet, health and fitness. You will often see Mario surrounded by a large audience of students who are hanging on his every word as he explains how he overcame the bullies, peer pressure, self-image and many other challenges our youth face today.
15 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT MARIO
Contact us to find out how Mario can help your company achieve a measurable increase in sales, brand awareness and market share, or to book Mario for your next event.
I was born in Malta and came to Australia as a 10 month old baby in the mid 60s with my parents and my brother Joe, who was 11 months older than me. We settled in the inner city suburb of Redfern.
In 1966 I started school at Mount Carmel Catholic at the age of 4. The early days in Redfern were tough. There was a perception that ‘wogs’ (as they called us) were taking Australian jobs. You can imagine how a boy named Mario was treated, having dark skin, dark hair and a look that was different to everyone else.
These were tough times, but in contrast I experienced a change in people’s perception when I started playing Rugby League. I soon learnt that in Australian culture there was a level of respect given to those who were accomplished at sport. The bullying soon subsided and I was even more determined to continue playing Rugby League. My first game of Rugby League was during my first year of school at Mount Carmel Catholic.
My parents moved from Redfern to Botany in 1971 and I started playing for Botany Juniors. Shortly after my best mate Craig Mullins convinced me to switch to Mascot, who were a very successful club. In 1973 I started high school at Marist Brothers Pagewood where I began to develop as a Rugby League player.
In 1976 I started making the junior representative teams, starting with SG Ball, then Jersey Flegg and President’s Cup. In 1981 I played under 23s which was the start of my professional Rugby League career. After my first game in the under 23s Bill Anderson, the first grade coach, asked me to sit on the bench for first grade. Halfway through the second half I got the call to warm up. My dream of playing in the big time was about to happen. I was elevated to first grade pretty quickly after that and I achieved my dream of playing in the big time for my beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The sudden death of my brother Joe was mind blowing. At the time it happened I was away with Souths in the Bush for a pre season trial. I have never really overcome losing my best mate, who was only 11months older than me. I feel for my parents that still carry the cross to this day.
I won the lottery in 1992 when I married my wife Rebecca who is a rare diamond. We are totally different, but at the same time we complement each other and still share a deep love after 17 years of marriage. Rebecca and I met at Terry Parker’s (then Souths CEO) second wedding. I did not want to go but my Mother and Father were invited and my Mother grabbed me by the ear and said ‘You ARE coming to this wedding, you are the team captain’…and boy I am glad I listened.
In 1994 my son Joe was born. It seemed fitting to name my son after my best mate and brother who died years earlier. It was great to see my parents finally start to smile again and it brings me a lot of joy to witness the loving relationship he shares with my parents. In 1996 we were blessed with the birth with a baby girl we named Bonnie. My daughter is the love of my life. I am one of four boys and never had a sister therefore it’s been a learning curve which I am told gets more interesting as life continues. At 13 years of age my Bonnie is very mature and achieving great results in her first year in High School. I am very proud of my two children, how they apply themselves at school.
I played for South Sydney for 10 years. When I left Souths I entered in talks with 4 clubs, two of which were St. George and North Sydney. I was on my way to the Dragons until they sacked Craig Young as coach. I then decided to go to the Bears in 1991 and played 4 seasons. I later retired after my final season as the inaugural captain of South East QLD Crushers in 1995.
Retirement was not easy. I was accustomed to preparing for battle each week and turning up to regular training sessions with a group of mates who shared a bond and mission to succeed. I remember thinking…”how can I possibly fill the huge hole and replace the highs and lows of professional Rugby League?” I am grateful for the support I received from my family who helped me to adjust. Their love and guidance throughout the years has been instrumental in shaping who I am today.
Looking back, my Rugby League career was a magical experience and an adventure I will never forget. Even though I was hanging up the boots, I was still motivated to maintain a close association with Rugby League and the Community.
I was fortunate to have a chance meeting with Gary Burns who was the Midday Show Executive Producer at the time. In 1988 Gary asked me to surprise mad South’s man Ray Martin, by bringing on a cake to celebrate their 500th show. Gary and I became great mates after that and later Gary became Director of Sport for Channel Nine. Through this association, the Falcon character was born.
Today I continue to play the Falcon character on Channel Nine’s award winning Footy Show. I also work as the Sponsorship Manager for the NRL. This sees me responsible for ensuring the NRL meet their contractual obligations with NRL sponsors and just as importantly that sponsors are satisfied that they are achieving value for money. My role at the NRL has me involved in a very different side to the sport. This has allowed me to form friendships with people and partnerships with companies who are integral to supporting the game financially. I signed Harvey Norman into Rugby League in 1997. I am proud to call Katie Page a friend and to have been instrumental in ensuring a mutually rewarding partnership between Harvey Norman and the NRL since 1997.
The community and our youth are also extremely important to me. I work closely with Sydney Children’s Hospital where I am an Ambassador, I am a White Ribbon Ambassador for violence against women, Pink Ribbon Breast cancer charity, the No Way Campaign say no to drugs, and regularly visit schools to lecture on topics such as diet, fitness, bullying, obesity, education and peer-pressure.
In addition to my media commitments I enjoy the opportunity to work with a variety of different companies and helping them promote their brands in the public domain using my Mario Fenech and the Falcon brands.
I have a number of exciting plans for the future. I am currently in talks with health professionals with plans to launch an awareness campaign to help tackle the growing obesity challenge. I invite you to become my friend on Facebook to follow my journey.
A tough Competitor
Fitness is Important
Proud to be a Non-Drinker
Hey Mario this was taken in Eastgardens Pagewood. My daughter thinks you're the ants pants XXX
Mario came to Bathurst today and met my husband and daughter. My daughter Abbey had a great day. Thanks Mario
Jody 'Lawson' Searle
Harvey Norman has been working with Mario for 10 years. Mario’s recently featured in our 2009 Triple Treat TVC and also starred in a version of the YouTube Linebacker Terry Tait video. Mario is a legend to work with and he always puts in 110%.
TV & Radio Manager
Our product is related to schools and sporting clubs therefore we were looking for a celebrity to represent our product who was not only popular, but a great role model. Mario being a non-drinker and known for his commitment to health, fitness and wellbeing made him an obvious choice. Mario has proven to be a great asset to our business.
We totally underestimated Mario’s popularity beyond Rugby League. Since Mario has been promoting our range of QLINK products we have seen a measurable increase in sales across all demographics.
If you’re looking to increase your sales I highly recommend you get Mario Fenech involved in your next marketing campaign. The campaigns Mario has done for BAMS have all delivered beyond expectation.
BAMS Commercial Fitouts
Our crew have filmed Mario Fenech for number of advertising campaigns. We see a lot of celebrities and can say without doubt that Mario is the most professional. His talent and experience in the media make him a pleasure to work with.