Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Passing of Lionel Rose

We mourn the passing of Lionel Rose, a remarkable Australian and national hero.

Mr Rose’s exemplary sportsmanship made him a role model and respected community member who has inspired many people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to pursue their dreams.

He was a true pioneer for Indigenous people in sport at a time when they were not recognised as citizens.

Born and raised at Jackson’s Track near Victorian town of Warragul, Mr Rose came from humble beginnings to become one of Australia’s most successful boxers.

The eldest of nine children, he took up boxing as a child to help support his family.

Following his professional boxing debut at age 16, he went on to become the first Indigenous Australian to win a World Title in boxing, defeating Japan’s Fighting Harada in 1968, to take the World Bantamweight Title.

In the same year – just one year after the referendum was passed to include Aboriginal people in the census – Mr Rose also became the first Aboriginal to be awarded Australian of the Year, and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire.

I extend my deepest condolences to Mr Rose’s family, friends and community.