Lionel Edmund Rose MBE (21 June 1948 – 8 May 2011) was an Australian bantamweight boxer, the first Indigenous Australian to win a world title. He later became the first Indigenous Australian to be named Australian of the Year.
Lionel was the 2003 Inductee for the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame Moderns catergory and was the 2nd person to be elevated to Legend status in 2010.
Later at the age of 10, Rose was given a pair of gloves by his teacher Ian Hawkins (who observed him shadow boxing). Aged about 15, he went under the tutelage of Frank Oakes, a Warragul trainer (whose daughter Jenny he later married).He won the Australian amateur flyweight title at 15. He is the God-father to model/actress Ruby Rose.
Rose continued boxing after his defeat against Olivares, but, after defeats against practically unknown fighters, many believed he was done as a prime fighter. However, he was far from finished: he upset future world lightweight champion Itshimatsu Suzuki on 10 October 1970 in a 10-round decision, and once again, he positioned himself as a world title challenger, albeit in the lightweight division, 17 pounds over the division where he crowned himself world champion.
Despite having lost to Jeff White for the Australian lightweight title, Rose got another world title try when he faced WBC world junior lightweight champion Yoshiaki Numata, on 30 May 1971 at Hiroshima. Numata beat Rose by a fifteen-round decision, and Rose announced his retirement soon after.
In 1975, he came back, but after losing four of his next six bouts, including one against Rafael Limón, Rose decided to retire for good. Rose compiled a record of 42 wins and 11 losses as a professional boxer, with 12 wins by knockout.
During his time off from boxing in the 1970s, Rose embarked on a modest singing career in Australia having hits with “I Thank You” and “Please Remember Me” in 1970. The song “I Thank You” was a top 5 nationwide hit, produced and written by Johnny Young and engineered by John L Sayers; it was played as a substitute to the Australian National Anthem during radio broadcasts of the State of Origin series, and other sporting events by the comedic sports commentators, Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson.
In retirement, Rose became a successful businessman, and he enjoyed the monetary benefits his career brought him. Rose was showcased in 2002 in the The Ring section ‘Where are they now?’.
In 2007, Rose suffered a stroke that left him with speech and movement difficulties.
Rose died on 8 May 2011 after an illness which lasted for several months.