Saturday, July 03, 2004

Lionel Rose

Adrian over at Man of Lettuce in his blogging of a Sydney Taxi pilot wrote about a sports writer retiring. I dont like sport. But he mentioned Lionel Rose and I did like Lionel.

Heres an expanded version of my comment over at Lettuce:

I'm a person who can't abide by any sport in any fashion. Except I have always followed boxing. Always is a strong word. Theres been nothing to follow in boxing for years. Dont get me going on Mundine (the recent one, not the old fella) or Lester Ellis. I suppose I'd have to give a little bit of praise to Fenech in his low key way. At least he's given me a classic Aussie phrase to use "I luvs youse all".

Johnny Famechon was a better "boxer" by a long shot than Lionel. Theres no question that the lighter the boxer the more "boxing" gets done as an art as opposed to thumping, plodding, holding and just lasting the duration. Excepting Ali. But then hes a one in a million. Famechon is the only World featherweight champion never to have been knocked out. But Lionel captured the hearts.

I'd bumped into him once when he was on the slops with the urgers filling him up and the worst of us australians waiting till he was well and truly falling down pissed to have a go and say they had flattened Lionel the Champ.

Years later I saw him at some Aboriginal Country Music show down at the Espy. His voice was never that great but when he sang "Louise" the Paul Siebel song he stopped me dead in my tracks. I wept. I have heard many great singers do this sad song. But none like that night that Lionel Rose sang it at the Espy. He grabbed it, he took it. He made me know he knew Louise, knew what it was like. His voice might not be Willy Nelson but like Willy he knew how to make a song his own.

My tears were for when he was a hero, when he was down on his luck, on the slops and for him being on the wagon. And for all aboriginals in this land who had to end up like Louise