Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lionel Rose: Australian hero

Lionel Rose: World Champion and 1968 Australian of the Year

Lionel became World Bantamweight Champion on 26 February 1968 by defeating Figthing Harada in Tokyo. He was the Australian of the year for 1968, the first aborigine in that role. He was only nineteen.

Lionel was not a political person in his youth unlike his American counterpart Muhammad Ali. Ali's boxing licence had been suspended a year earlier because of his refusal to be drafted for the Vietnam War. He was also stripped of his world title.

You didn't have to be into boxing to watch Lionel's bouts. We all did. There was no traffic in Melbourne if it was televised. His trainer was Jack Rennie - no relation, though it is a family name.

When he became the greatest boxer in Australian history, he was only nineteen.

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