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5/10/11 8:53 AM
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Edited: 05/10/11 8:54 AM
Member Since: 6/14/02
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How was this guy for an old smoothy:

http://7pmproject.com.au/vale-lionel-rose.htm

 

Lionel's final round

Monday, 9 May 2011

Boxing (and singing) legend

Photo © 2011 AP Photo/File

Few Australian sportsmen captured the attention of the nation quite like Lionel Rose.

The boxing legend, who died on Sunday aged 62, shot to prominence as a 19-year-old in 1968 when he defeated Japan's Fighting Harada in Tokyo to claim the bantamweight world title.

The feat saw Rose become the first Aboriginal boxer to claim a world championship, catapulting him to instant stardom and icon status for Australia's indigenous community.

Astonishingly, an estimated 250,000 people lined Melbourne's streets to welcome him back from Tokyo in February, 1968.

Even Elvis Presley wanted a piece when Rose defended his title in California later that year, requesting to meet him.

"I was in awe of him, but he said he was in awe of me," Rose recounted of the meeting in an interview.

While many argue Rose is Australia's greatest boxing talent, he is remembered equally by many for how he helped change racial attitudes and inspired his people.

His achievements and career are astonishing considering his humble beginnings.

The eldest of nine children, Rose was born on June 21, 1948, and grew up in Jackson's Track, an Aboriginal settlement near the Victorian town of Warragul.

His father was an amateur boxer and introduced him to the sport in a makeshift ring when he was 14.

Rose won his first major fight at Melbourne's Festival Hall in 1963, the day after his father died.

By the end of the year, he had claimed Australia's national amateur flyweight title.

To help support his family, Rose turned professional in 1964 under legendary Australian trainer Jack Rennie.

After a string of successful bouts, he won the Australian bantamweight title in October 1966, before making history in Japan two years later.

Five months after defeating Harada, Rose returned to Tokyo to retain his title with a 15-round decision win over Takao Sakurai and defended it again by decision against Chucho Castillo in Inglewood, California, later that year.

Rose's feats saw him named Australian of the Year in 1968, the first Aborigine to be awarded the honour, while he was also appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

In March 1969, Rose retained the title with a 15-round decision over Alan Rudkin, but five months later he returned to Inglewood, where he faced Ruben Olivares and lost the world bantamweight title via a fifth-round knockout.

Rose continued fighting, coming close several times to another world title before retiring in 1971.

He made a brief comeback in 1975 but retired permanently with a record 42 wins (12 KOS) from 53 fights.

Rose's talents weren't limited to the ring - he embarked on a successful singing career in Australia during his time off from boxing in the `70s, having hits with I Thank You and Please Remember Me.

Rose, who reportedly long believed he would die young, battled with his health over the past two decades, having his first heart attack at age 39.

In 2007, he suffered a stroke that left him with speech and movement difficulties.

Rose remains one of only four Australian-born fighters to win a world title overseas.

Jeff Harding and Jimmy Carruthers also achieved the feat, while the latest came on the same day as Rose's death, with Daniel Geale defeating German champion Sebastian Sylvester for the IBF middleweight title.

Brought to you by AAP

 

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