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Lionel Rose, the first Australian Aboriginal to win a boxing world title, has passed away at the age of 62. Rose became an overnight sensation and Australian hero after he won the world title in 1968.
Lionel Rose, an icon of Australia's Aboriginal people who gained widespread fame after winning a world boxing title, died on Sunday, age 62. Rose was the first Aboriginal to be named "Australian of the Year."
Rose became a major symbol and morale boost for Aborigines in 1968, after winning the world bantam weight boxing title in Tokyo.
Rose fought Japan's Masahiko "Fighting" Harada, winning on points over 15 rounds.
He returned home to a hero's welcome and a ticker-tape parade with hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Melbourne.
It was an unprecedented sign of respect for any member of Australia's native people.
A life-size bronze statue of the boxing legend was unveiled in the town of Warragul in the state of Victoria in 2010.
He was named Australian of the Year in 1968 and was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire that same year for service to sport.
Rose fought 53 fights over the course of his career, winning 42, and had 11 knockouts.
In 1970, Rose declined a lucrative offer to fight in South Africa in order to take a stand against apartheid.
His life story became an Australian mini-series, "Rose against the Odds."
He retired from fighting in 1975 and in 2007 suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed.