Smuggle me budgie down, sport

In recent sporting news, from the Financial Times on the 4th, a story by Primrose Riordan on

a minor scandal in Malaysia, where Australians have been arrested for wearing Malaysian flag-themed budgie smugglers to the Formula One grand prix.

Nine Australians stripped down to their underwear at the event in Kuala Lumpur and drank alcohol out of shoes after Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, who won the race, drank champagne from his boot in celebration.


Caption: Nine Australian revellers at Malaysia’s Formula 1 racing circuit have been jailed after stripping down to reveal underpants themed on Malaysia’s national flag. Photo credit: New Straits Times Press/Osman Adnan

On budgie smugglers, from Urban Dictionary:

(by Mr.Sorter 4/27/06) Australian slang term for men’s tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear. The ‘lump in the front’ apparently resembles a budgie when it is stuffed down the front of someone’s shorts. Ah, those crazy Aussies!!

In discussing his film “Revolver” on BBC’s Radio 5Live, Guy Ritchie said that Ray Liotta’s ‘Mr. Macha’ character, who parades around wearing only budgie smugglers for much of the film – was ‘an impressive sight’.

And from The Wild Reed Blog in 2011, in “Boardies, Budgie Smugglers and Euro-Togs. . . A Brief Survey of Aussie Male Swimwear”:

For my non-Australian readers the following illustration by John Hunter humorously shows what a “budgie” or budgerigar is, and why such a colourful little bird gets caught up in the whole “boardies versus Speedos” debate.


(On this blog on 10/15/14, “No stinkin’ budgies”, there’s a note on budgie, informal for budgerigar the bird (popular as a pet).)

Note: the Financial Times piece identifies the garments in #1 as “underwear”, but my understanding is that they’re swimwear (Australian swimmers). In any case, there’s a real question as to whether the garments count as publicly indecent in a racing venue in Malaysia. They certainly count as publicly disrespectful, even insulting, to Malaysia — because of the Malaysian flag on them. From the Financial Times piece:

The head of the racetrack where the event was held – Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali – said action should be taken against the young men.

“This shows a huge lack of respect to us as Malaysians; this is stupid behaviour from foreigners who have no sense of cultural sensitivity and respect.

“They deserve to be locked up, investigated and taken action against. It embarrasses their own country as well, it gives Australians a bad name,” Mr Razlan told the New Straits Times.

The young men eventually apologized for their youthful folly and seem to have been allowed to return to Australia.

But back to budgie smugglers. The term, in a variant spelling, has been promoted to a trade name, for the, er, cheeky firm Budgy Smugglers. From their entertaining website:

Budgy Smugglers are the pair of swimmers you always wanted but never had the chance to buy. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, don’t worry, you’re not alone. All you need to know is that budgy smuggler is Australian for blokes swimwear

A lot of people ask us why we are “budgy smuggler”, not “budgie smuggler”? We really wish we had a good answer. Two of our favourite explanations are the impressive sounding, “it has to do with trademark law, you wouldn’t understand it”, and the mysterious sounding “we’re not detail people, we are concept people”.

The sad fact is, we only realised the incorrect spelling after it was too late to change back again. So budgy smuggler should have been budgie smuggler. But you know what, however you spell it, you’ll still look great in a pair of smugglers.

All budgy smugglers are 100% Australian made in our factory in Sydney with the top quality Australian Made fabric. We understand when it comes to smuggling your budgy there can be no compromise on quality.

Budgy Smuggler is family owned and run by a few 20 something year olds who aspire to never have a traditional desk job.

The company was founded in a back yard and we are stoked that people from all around the world are discovering the joy of smuggling!

Visit the Budgy Shop today to start packing your package in a pair of Budgy Smugglers.

Elsewhere the swimsuits are described as “classic speedo-style swimwear”, with the tradename Speedo genericized to refer to any men’s brief, tight (and consequently sexually revealing) swimming trunks.

On actual Speedos, from Wikipedia:

Speedo International Ltd. is a manufacturer and distributor of swimwear and swim-related accessories based in Nottingham, England. Founded in Sydney, Australia, in 1914, the industry-leading company is now a subsidiary of the British Pentland Group. Today, the Speedo brand can be found on products ranging from swimsuits and goggles to wrist watches and MP3 players. The Speedo brand is manufactured for and marketed in North America as Speedo USA by PVH under an exclusive perpetual licence, who acquired prior licencee Warnaco Group in 2013.

In accordance with its Australian roots, Speedo uses a boomerang as their symbol. Due to their success in the swimwear industry, the word “Speedo” has become synonymous with racing bathing suits.

Though many Speedos and speedo-style swimsuits have already appeared on this blog, here’s a genial septet of fit, attractive young men, diverse on several dimensions, displaying themselves for the camera:


Bonus: the title of this posting. It’s a play on “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport”,

a song written by Australian singer Rolf Harris in 1957 which became a hit across the world in the 1960s in two recordings (1960 in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the original, and 1963 with a re-recording of his song in the United States). Inspired by Harry Belafonte’s calypsos, it is about an Australian stockman on his deathbed. The song is one of the best-known and most successful Australian songs. (Wikipedia link)

You can listen to Harris singing the song here. Warning: high earworm potential.

3 Responses to “Smuggle me budgie down, sport”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From (Aussie-born) Jason Parker-Burlingham on Facebook:

    The former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is somewhat famous/notorious for a picture of him on a beach wearing nothing but red Speedos.

    Also, people really do try to smuggle Australian birds and eggs out of the country in their pants, so the “budgie smuggler” name isn’t totally inappropriate.

    [But:] No-one would traffic in budgies since they’re kept the world over, known as parakeets, but I guess that just highlights the teeny size of the swimwear and the doubled vowel is too tempting.

    From Wikipedia:

    The budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) … , also known as the common pet parakeet or shell parakeet and informally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot. Budgerigars are the only species in the Australian genus Melopsittacus, and are found wild throughout the drier parts of Australia where the species has survived harsh inland conditions for the last five million years. Budgerigars are naturally green and yellow with black, scalloped markings on the nape, back, and wings, but have been bred in captivity with colouring in blues, whites, yellows, greys, and even with small crests. Budgerigars are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, and ability to mimic human speech. The origin of the budgerigar’s name is unclear [though usually assumed to be from an Aboriginal language].

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From David Preston on Facebook:

    I love that the Malaysian news pixelated the swimsuit, but showed the bare skin

  3. chrishansenhome Says:

    The Singaporean swim team at one time had swimsuits with part of the national flag on them. They were told that they were disrespectful (and might even be breaking the law) and so they changed them.

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