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Today's Birthday 13/09

AAP logoAAP 12/09/2016

Today's Birthday, September 13: Billionaire and Australian businessman Kerry Stokes (1940-)

Bursting through the societal-imposed ranks of the mid 20th century, Kerry Stokes' life is a rare rags to riches story of guts, courage and self-taught determination

Born John Patrick Alford in Melbourne, Stokes was adopted into an impoverished Catholic family before he was old enough to even remember his mother.

His first job was in Perth selling TV antennae during the 1960s when the West Australian state's housing boom erupted.

Stokes' success could read like a text book step-by-step guide to the top, but the man once described as tough, shrewd, direct and independent said it had been a tough life for him.

"I had lots of different occupations and obviously lots of different experiences. Sometimes I had some time on the street, and sometimes work was very difficult," he told the Australian media at the turn of the 21st century.

But he worked through his adversity and fortune found its way to him.

Soon he started selling land, and the profits enabled him to invest in the mining, construction, shopping centre, print and electronic media sectors.

Today he remains the executive chairman of the Seven Group, and the chairman of Australian Capital Equity. Along with numerous awards and honorary university degrees, Stokes was also made a Companion in the General Division in the Order of Australia (AC) in 2008.

He currently employs seven people to look after his vast art collection; a hobby that began during the 1960s following the purchase of a $350 charcoal piece by Robert Dickerson.

Divorced four times, Stokes has two children to his first wife, and two children to his second wife. He remains married to his fifth wife.

Stokes is worth $1.57b and is listed at no.27 on the Forbes' rich list.

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