Lionel Rose was born in the early 1940's he was one of the Australia's most successful boxers. Lionel grew up in an aboriginal settlement called Jackson's Track in Victoria.
When Lionel was growing up he studied his father who was also a boxer. Lionel saw boxing as an escape from poor living in the country. He ended up winning his first Australian amateur Flyweight title when he was just fifteen.
One of Lionel's greatest achievements was winning a world title. Although he was not the first aboriginal to win a world title he was the first boxer to do so. Rose won the Bantamweight title in 1968 against Harada from Japan. He was also only the second Australian to win a world title while still in his teens. After Lionel missed out on the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Rose turned professional. He was trained by a Melbourne trainer named Jack Rennie.
Rose entered in a fight against Rocky Gattellari at Sydney stadium everybody was behind Rocky Gattellari but when Lionel Rose knocked him out in round thirteen the fans had a new hero.
When Lionel went to Japan to fight Harada. Harada already had five successful title defences to his credit. Harada was given advice that if he hit an aboriginal in the legs he would fall immediately. He ignored the advice and hit him in the head, this had no effect. In the ninth round Harada had dropped to his knees with a short left punch to his chin he then opened himself to more and more punishment.
A few years ago Lionel Rose and another athlete Cathy Freeman where mentioned in a racial joke by Arthur Tunstall. Lionel and Cathy took this seriously but did not sue.
Alan Huddy, Herberton Secondary Department, Queensland, Australia
David Horton The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, pp954, 955.