9 May 2011

Death of star Aboriginal boxer

4:45 pm on 9 May 2011

The first Aboriginal Australian boxer to win a world title, Lionel Rose, has died at the age of 62.

He had been suffering from health problems since a stroke in 2007 left him partially paralysed with speech difficulties.

Rose made Australian sporting history in 1968, the ABC reports, when he became the first indigenous boxer to win a world championship.

He beat Japan's Fighting Harada in Tokyo at the age of 19 to claim the world bantamweight title and when he returned to Australia he was greeted by more than 100,000 people outside the Melbourne Town Hall.

In 1968, Rose was named Australian of the Year for his achievement - the first Aboriginal person to be awarded the honour.

Three-times boxing world champion Anthony Mundine says Rose is Australia's greatest ever fighter and his death is a loss for all Australians.