Packed crowd expected to farewell Australia's legendary boxer Lionel Rose

14:07, May 16, 2011      

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Melbourne's Festival Hall is expected to be packed out on Monday, when it holds a state funeral for former world boxing champion, Lionel Rose, Australia's media reported on Sunday.

Rose made Australian sporting history in 1968 when he became the first Indigenous boxer to win a world championship.

He was named Australian of the Year in 1968 in recognition of the achievement, becoming the first indigenous Australian to be awarded this honor. That same year, he was also appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Rose had been suffering from health problems since having a stroke in 2007 that left him partially paralyzed with speech difficulties. He died last week at the age of 62.

Earlier, the Victorian state government announced Rose's funeral would be at Festival Hall in West Melbourne at 1pm on Monday.

Festival Hall was built in 1915 by the notorious bookie John Wren as a venue for boxing and wrestling.

The venue was where Rose cut his boxing teeth and where he won his first major fight in 1963. Of his 52 professional fights, 23 were at Festival Hall with 22 wins.

Herald Sun reported that thousands of the sport's great characters and fans will attend Monday's funeral, in a move to farewell the Australia's sporting greats, legendary boxer, Rose.

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu described Rose as a champion for sport, the Aboriginal community and Victoria.

"He made an extraordinary contribution to sport and Victoria," Baillieu told Herald Sun.

Source: Xinhua
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