The pugnacious style of Tony Abbott, the winner of Australia's election, has played well with the electorate. He may have run a gaffe-prone campaign against the bookish Kevin Rudd, the incumbent Labor prime minister, but his knockabout style, which harkens back to older, safer times, proved popular with an electorate exhausted by years of Labor infighting.
Having successfully deflected accusations of sexism -- dismissing a campaign gaffe in which he lauded a Liberal female candidate for her "sex appeal" as a "dad moment" -- Abbott has presented himself as an unreconstructed male who loves his sport and beer.
In Australia's current social climate, which some have attacked for being increasingly insular, self-absorbed and xenophobic, Abbott's bruising confrontational style has hit a rich seam.
Politics might be a tough profession, but in few places is it as bruising as in Australia where mudslinging and name-calling occur on an almost daily basis.
Some exchanges in Australian parliament are almost the stuff of folk legend.
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating (1991-96), when pressed to name an election date, told the leader of the opposition he wouldn't reveal the date because, "I want to do you slowly." More recently, the former Australian leader recently ousted Rudd, Julia Gillard gave the opposition a spirited lecture in sexism that went viral and even drew praise from U.S. President Barack Obama.
But not since leader of the Labor opposition Mark Latham broke a taxi driver's arm in a dispute over a cab fare in 2001 have Australians had the chance to elect a real brawler as premier.
Latham's bid for prime minister failed, but in Abbott, the leader of the Liberal-National Coalition, the country may have found a natural successor.
Combative in debate and with the media, Abbott may have shown little of his predecessors' verbal flair -- recent gaffes had him talking about the "suppository," rather than the repository, "of all wisdom" -- but he has displayed the kind of dogged aggression that Australians like to see in their sportsmen.
A former Rhodes Scholar who won an Oxford Blue in boxing, he allegedly punched the wall either side of the head of a female political rival during his student days in the 1970s. Abbott claims the incident "never happened."
For one former alumni from his Jesuit secondary school St. Ignatius' College, Riverview, in Sydney, the episode would not have been out of character.
"All I remember is his rictus grin and the rolled-up sleeves of his short-sleeved shirt, giving his biceps something to rub up against," the former classmate, who now works in the Hong Kong banking industry, told CNN.
"What struck me was the raw emotion he could elicit just by being him. You could pour an enormous bucket on him, and he was not only impervious in terms of being hurt but would grin back at you and give it back -- with compound interest and probably a compound fracture," he added.
While Abbott is a polarizing figure to the electorate, the socially conservative politician is known to hold complex views in some areas of policy.
He has been known to defend areas of Medicare -- the country's national health system normally championed by the Labor Party -- and even opposed his own party on industrial relations reform, arguing that it was too harsh on workers.
Born in England in 1957 to an Australian mother and an English-born father, he graduated in economics and law from Sydney University where he became involved in the rough and tumble world of student politics.
Avowedly right-wing at a time when the prevailing orthodoxy on campuses was deeply left-wing, Abbott, according to one of his biographers Michael Duffy, was beaten up at a student conference.
Briefly training as a Catholic priest before working variously as a concrete contractor and as a journalist for The Australian newspaper, he entered politics in 1994 when he was elected to represent the affluent Warringah district of Sydney.