Former bantamweight world champion and Australian boxing great Lionel Rose passed away on Sunday. He was 62 years old.
Rose was most famous for beating Japan's Fighting Harada in 1968 in Tokyo, winning a 15-round majority decision. He would defend the championship three times before being knocked out in five by the great Ruben Olivares in August 1969. He was named Australian of the Year in 1968, the first Aboriginal to receive the award, and was the first Aboriginal fighter to win a world championship.
He retired in 1971 after losing to Yoshiaki Numata in Hiroshima, but returned to the sport in 1975. That comeback proved ill-advised, as Rose lost four of six and retired for good in 1976. His final career record was 42-11 (12 KO).
Rose also had success outside of boxing. As an Aussie country singer (oh yes, they have a lot of them), Rose had a big hit with "I Thank You" in 1970, and recorded many other songs. He was said to have enjoyed the money he made in boxing, and didn't wind up one of boxing's sad post-retirement cases thanks to good planning and business decisions.
In 2007, Rose suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. In 2008, a documentary called Lionel was made about the fighter.
Bad Left Hook sends our best wishes and deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the late Lionel Rose.