Today’s Doodle, created by guest artist Mark Munk Ross of Sydney, Australia, honours Indigenous Australian world champion bantamweight boxer Lionel Rose. Rose was inducted into the Sport Australian Hall of Fame on this day in 1985 as the first Indigenous Australian to win a world championship sports title.
Lionel Edmund Rose was born into poverty in the Indigenous Australian hamlet of Jackson’s Track on June 21, 1948, where he suffered severe persecution. He looked up to his father, a two-time Australian lightweight champion who used rags as gloves to train Rose. Rose won his first amateur flyweight title at the age of 15, and by 1964, he had turned pro.
Rose made history in 1968 by being the second Australian adolescent and the first Indigenous Australian fighter to win a world title after a 15-round decision victory over Japanese champion Masahiko “Fighting” Harada in Tokyo. He rapidly gained a reputation for his lightning-fast reflexes and tenacious counter-punches, and upon his return from Japan, he was greeted by an estimated 250,000 people in Melbourne’s streets, the largest welcome home in Australian sports history. Rose was also a talented singer and guitarist, recording a chart-topping country album after meeting Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock & Roll.”
Rose was the first Indigenous Australian to be named Australian of the Year in 1968. Until 1969, he successfully defended his title in three successive matches before relinquishing it. He retired in 1976 as a national hero and one of Australia’s best athletes of all time, remembered as a generous and humble leader.
Lionel Rose, thank you for standing up for future generations of Indigenous Australian athletes!
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