The Story of “Lionel Rose“… Writing an article about this esteemed legend is also equally inspiring for us. It is the story of an Aboriginal boy who faced much discrimination in his childhood and dealt with extreme poverty in an Australian Aboriginal settlement but with his indomitable will and determination, kept climbing the ladder of success in the world of boxing. Let’s know more about him-
1. Lionel’s Childhood
Lionel Edmund Rose was born in an aboriginal settlement of Labertouche on the Jackson track in the state of Victoria, Australia on 21 June 1948. During his early childhood days, Lionel’s father who was a skilled amateur boxer who went touring boxing tents taught him boxing. His first pair of boxing gloves was given by his teacher Ian Hawkins at the age of 10.
2. The Ladder of Success
At the age of 15 only, he witnessed his first major win at Melbourne’s festival hall in 1963 (the day after his father died), and in the same year, he won the “Australian amateur flyweight title.
Being the eldest of nine children in his family, Rose decided to support his family by boxing after his father died. He started his professional boxing career at the age of 16 in 1964 under an Australian trainer- Jack Rennie who trained Rose when he won over Mario Magriss in 1964.
After several wins, Rose beaten Singtong Por Tor and Laurie Ny (his first abroad fight) in the year 1965.
When he reached the age of 18, he fought with Noel Kunde for the “Australian bantamweight title” in Melbourne and won the match after beating Kunde in a 15-round decision on 28 October 1966.
Winning the Bantamweight World Title
After winning nine more bouts between 1966 and ’67, He appeared to challenge Masahiko Harada for the “World Bantamweight title” in Tokyo, Japan on 26 February 1968. Rose won by beating Harada in a 15-round decision and established himself as a “World Bantamweight Champion.”
Becoming An Australian National Figure
After he won this world title, his life changed significantly as he became the first indigenous Australian boxer as well as the first aboriginal boxer to win a world title. He was also only the second Australian to be a world champion. Soon he became an admirable national hero. When he returned to Australia after this math, A massive crowd of tens of thousands of people paid him reception on the streets of Melbourne town hall.
Boxer Lionel Rose was awarded the “Australian of the Year” in 1968 and was also the first Aboriginal Australian to win this award. During the same year, he became a member of the Order of the British Empire.
After receiving the title of world champion, Rose successfully defended his world title three times against Takao Sakurai, Chucho Castillo, and Alan Rudkin.
Rose Lost his World Bantamweight Title to Rubén Olivares
On the 22nd of August 1969, Rose went to Inglewood to defend his World Bantamweight Title against Rubén Olivares– A Mexican professional boxer who was regarded as the greatest Bantamweight boxing champion of all time. Olivares defeated Rose by a 5th-round knockout.
Rose Never Gave Up: Won Another World Title
They say, “Success is a chapter that follows the chapter of Failure”, and it was proved by Lionel Rose. After losing the world Bantamweight title to Olivares, he went on to be defeated in many boxing matches. But he kept fighting until he again crowned himself as a world champion boxer by bagging the World Lightweight Title by defeating Itshimatsu Suzuki in a 10-round decision in the lightweight division on 10 October 1970.
Rose announced his retirement in 1975 with a record of 42 wins and 11 losses in total.
3. Lionel Rose- A multitalented personality
Aboriginal boxer Lionel was not just only a champion boxer but also aced in singing as well as guitar-playing. Yes, when his boxing career was coming to an end, Rose associated with people such as Elvis Presley and songwriter Johnny Young and ventured into a modest singing career.
He gave hit albums such as “I Thank You” and singles such as “Please Remember Me” in 1970, out of which the album “I Thank You” became a top 5 Nationwide hit and is on the list of top 25 singles of the Australian Singles Chart in 1970.
Rose’s other album titled “Jackson’s track” was released in 1971 which he sang in the SBS documentary along with the “I Thank You” album.
Several other singles were recorded by Lionel rose between 1970 and 1971 such as “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down“, “Good Old Country Song“, “Little Ole You“, and “Guitar Pickin’ Boy“.
Some Interesting Facts about Lionel Rose
- Lionel Rose had a boxing nickname and was called “Slim“.
- Rose became a successful businessman after his retirement.
- Lionel Rose was decorated with “Key to the City of Gold Coast” which is the City’s highest honour in 1969 and he was the only second recipient of this honour.
- A TV miniseries named Rose Against the Odds describing the life of Lionel Rose was produced in 1991.
- Rose was bestowed with the E9 title- “King of the Ring” in the year 2005.
- In the Year 2003, Lionel was introduced to the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame.
- After his death, Lionel Rose was also introduced to the “Victorian Aboriginal Honor Roll” in 2011.
- A Memorial statue of Lionel Rose is situated in the Warragul town of Australia.
Every great thing comes to an end, and the End is Inevitable. Rose’s health started worsening after he suffered from a Stroke in 2007, and sadly this eminent boxer left the world after a persistent illness on 8 May 2011.
Instead of calling it a conclusion, we will call it Learning. Learning tells us the power of indomitable will, determination, and tolerance. Even after experiencing extreme discrimination, poverty, and other hardships, Lionel Rose didn’t kneel and kept fighting like a true fighter until he got what he deserved. Salute to this magnificent aboriginal world champion boxer!
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