Lionel Rose MBE passes away

By Tony Nobbs: Very sad news comes out of Victoria today, with the passing of former world bantamweight king Lionel Edmond Rose MBE, age 62, after a long illness following stroke in 2007. Born at Jackson's Track, near Drouin, Victoria in 1948, Rose became the first Aboriginal Australian world champion in any sport when he defeated Hall of Famer Masahiko Fighting Harada on points after fifteen fabulous rounds in Tokyo in February 1968 at the age of 19. He made three succesful defenses of his WBA/WBC undisputed throne, out pointing 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist Takao Sakurai (Tokyo), future world champion Chuchu Castillo (Inglewood) and Alan Rudkin (Melbourne) before being dethroned by Mexico’s Ruben Olivares by fifth round knockout in Inglewood, California in August 1969.

Rose was named Australian of the Year in 1969-the first Aborgine to be awarded the honor and was appointed a Member of the British Empire.

After losing his world title, he continued to fight until 1976, going 8-8 in his next sixteen bouts to finish his career with a 42-11, 12 ko’s record.

In 1970, he scored his best post championship victory when he defeated Guts Ishimutsu in Melbourne. Ishimatsu four years later won the WBC lightweight belt. Rose also challenged for the WBC junior lightweight strap, dropping a verdict to Yoshiaki Numata by only two points on all cards, in Hiroshima in 1971.

He will be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest ever sportsman. His death comes on the same day Tasmanian Aboriginal Daniel Geale captured the IBF middleweight title in Germany.


Article posted on 08.05.2011

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