State Funeral for a Champion

Lionel Rose Srate Funeral Video
AUDIO Audio file Vale Lionel Rose mp3 file
The state funeral of boxing great Lionel Rose was held on Monday 16th May, 2011 at Festival Hall. ABC Radio 774's Richelle Hunt compiled this moving audio tribute

'Beacon of hope' Lionel Rose farewelled

AAP ABC 16th May 2011

The life of former boxing champion Lionel Rose has been remembered at a state funeral in Melbourne.

More than 2,000 people attended the service at Melbourne's Festival Hall, the venue of Rose's first victory.

The former world champion boxer died earlier this month at the age of 62.

Rose had been ill for several months and suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him partially paralysed with speech difficulties.

Tributes were given by Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and singer Archie Roach, while federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib and former Victorian premier John Brumby were also in attendance.

In 1968, Rose was greeted by more than 100,000 people outside Melbourne's Town Hall after defeating Japan's Fighting Harada to win the world bantamweight title.

It was the first time an Indigenous fighter won a world title and he was named Australian of the Year in 1968.

Rose had 53 fights for 42 wins in his career.

He will be buried in a private ceremony in his home town of Warragul.

Mr Baillieu says Rose will be remembered fondly for his boxing and for his role as an Indigenous role model.

Rose was remembered as an inspiration to fellow Indigenous athletes.

"Lionel was a pioneer. Yes, Lionel Rose was a great sportsman, [but] he was also a leader and a beacon of hope for Indigenous Australians and a hero and an inspiration to all," Mr Baillieu said.

Former VFL player and friend Stan Alves said Rose was a man who, despite his achievements, never saw himself as superior.

Mr Alves says Rose was proud of his Aboriginal roots and inspired other Aboriginal people to lift their sights.

"He was a proud Aboriginal, steeped in his culture and he never forgot to stick up for and never took a backward step when it came to talking about his roots," he said.

"He was a true Australian, in fact a statesman, who could break down barriers.

"He was more than the awards. He wasn't always an angel, but there wasn't a mean bone in his body."

Mr Alves paid tribute to Rose's brilliant boxing style, which inspired many.

"We were treated to a charismatic boxer, with those flashing hands ... a master craftsman," he said.

"A beautiful boxer, but he was more than that, he had the ingredients of a warrior."