At the NRL All Stars match on Saturday night, Indigenous star Josh Addo-Carr replicated one of Australian sports iconic images.
Lifting his jersey and pointing to his skin during an emotional war dance, the star followed in the footsteps of AFL great Nicky Winmar.
Winmar, who had a groundbreaking career as the first Aboriginal player to play 200 AFL games and played at the top level for St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs.
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But Winmar was also targeted in several incidents of racial vilification.
During an AFL match at Victoria Park in 1993, St Kilda footballer Nicky Winmar — after copping relentless verbal abuse from the Collingwood spectators — lifted up his jersey and pointed at his skin.
Winmar stared into the crowd, defiantly displaying his Aboriginal heritage for all to see, shouting, “I’m black and I’m proud to be black”.
Winmar’s pointed message.Source:NewsComAu
It was a powerful moment, and proved a turning point for racial discrimination in Australian sport.
Winmar’s protest was immortalised in a statue outside the newly-developed Optus Stadium last year.
And it was something that meant a lot to Addo-Carr.
“I did a little tribute to Nicky Winmar," he said. "Obviously there’s the iconic photo of him and I wanted to show my respect to him.
“He changed it for black fellas, so I wanted to show my respect to him. Everyone said it got them up before we started doing shake-a-leg so I’m glad everyone enjoyed it.
“I just want to make my people proud. They drive me to be the best I can be. We put our heart on our sleeve tonight.”
Josh Addo-Carr’s emotional tribute.Source:NewsComAu
While the Indigenous All Stars fell 30-16 to the Maori All Stars, it was a brilliant tribute to the game-changing AFL star.
Asked further about the tribute, Addo-Carr said he hoped the AFL great saw it. He did.
The Age spoke to Winmar, who admitted "I had a tear in my eye".
Winmar hadn't seen it live but said he was blown away when he saw the gesture from the Melbourne Storm and NSW Blues winger.
“I got sent it to me by a mate of mine. He sent me a link on my phone and I thought ‘oh my God, what’s going on here?” Winmar said.
“I had a bit of a tear in my eye. I thought it was fantastic that you can still be remembered for something you’ve done."
Winmar pointed out the fact Addo-Carr hasn't been born when he took the stand in 1993 against Collingwood. Addo-Carr was born two years later in Blacktown in NSW.
It goes to show how iconic the photo is, having touched generations of Aboriginal children in the 27 years since it was taken.
Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes also relived the moment with his own image.
Adam Goodes relived the Winmar moment.Source:NewsComAu
Winmar also pointed to the support of nine-year-old bullying victim Quaden Bayles, who led the Indigenous All Stars onto the field before the match, and said it was "a wonderful tribute".
Led by NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell, the Indigenous All Stars’ stirring war dance on Saturday evening was passionate and emotion-driven.
Wielding boomerangs and spears, the team slowly approached their opposition in unison, before meeting at the halftime line and performing the hongi, a traditional Maori greeting where noses touch.
“What a mind-blowing show of passion,” Fox League commentator Andrew Voss said while Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” blared from the stadium’s speakers.
“But at the end of it all, what wonderful respect between cultures.”
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