Rose to have state funeral, WBC tribute

LIONEL ROSE will be given a state funeral after the family of the former world champion, who died aged 62 on Sunday, accepted an offer yesterday from the Victorian government for him to be accorded the honour.

The World Boxing Council has also declared a day of mourning in honour of Rose, describing him as Australia's greatest boxing hero. Rose took both the WBC and WBA bantamweight titles from Japan's Fighting Harada in Tokyo in February 1968. He made three successful defences, and later in his career unsuccessfully challenged for the WBC super featherweight title.

Melbourne-based WBC board member Frank Quill notified WBC president Jose Sulaiman by email on Sunday night of Rose's death. Sulaiman announced a day of mourning today for the 170 countries of the WBC as a mark of respect. On the WBC website, Sulaiman described Rose as ''the greatest boxing hero of Australia … a special champion, who had the passionate idolatry and support not only from his Aborigine people, but also from the whole [of] Australia and the world''.

Rose became Australia's first WBC champion when he defeated Harada on a majority points decision. ''I think his greatness was epitomised by his fantastic performance when he beat Harada,'' Quill said. ''I had a tape of the fight, and I've studied it quite often, and to me that's one of the best contests that I've ever seen.''