By Ray Wheatley–World of Boxing
Australian boxing legend Lionel Rose, who passed away on May 8 at the age of 62 years, has been honored with a special tribute magazine from “The Greatest” Volume 2 that depicts his life from when he was born on June 21, 1948 in Drouin, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia to his final days when a Bronze statue was erected in his honor. Award winning writer Grantlee Kieza describes the fights of Rose in fine detail and the cover is by respected artist and former champion Bryan Membrey. Rose shocked the boxing world in 1968 as a nineteen-year-old when he defeated Japan’s greatest ever gloveman Fighting Harada for the WBC/WBA bantamweight title in Tokyo by fifteen round majority decision to become the first aboriginal to hold a world boxing crown.
Harada had won fifty fights only losing on three occasions prior to meeting Rose and was a hot favorite to defeat the Australian. When Rose returned to Australia there were over 100, 000 fans waiting for him at Melbourne airport. Rose said, “The Beatles arriving in Melbourne today.” Five months later Rose returned to Japan to outscore Takao Sakurai over fifteen rounds and then in a non-title ten round bout clearly outpointed tough as nails Mexican Jose Medel at the Forum, Inglewood, California in 1968. Medel had a TKO 6 win over Harada so he was highly regarded.
Mexican Chucho Castillo, extended Rose over fifteen rounds but it was the Aussie who was given a fifteen round split decision and the fans erupted and a riot followed at the Forum at Inglewood, California.Englishman Alan Rudkin gave Rose the fight of his life in Melbourne in 1969 when the Australian was struggling to make the 118 pound limit but a weight drained Lionel was awarded a fifteen round split decision.
Mexican great Ruben Olivares who had won fifty one fights scoring forty nine KO’s and no losses proved to strong for Rose and took the title by KO in five rounds in Las Vegas. Japan’s Yoshiaki Numata outscored Rose in 1971 for the WBC super featherweight title and in 1976 Lionel had his final ring outing when he lost to Maurice Apeang in Noumea to bring down the curtain on a great career. Tributes were given by former champions Johnny Famechon, Barry Michael, Tony Mundine, Jeff Fenech, Danny Green.
Boxing writer Tony Nobbs also Lionel’s best mate “Spider” Wheatley gave there tributes.. Rose became first Australian boxer who was given a state funeral and the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard said. ” Lionel Rose was an Australian champion in every sense of the word and a inspiration to us all.”