Mundine to snub 'racist' Australian anthem

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 08:19 29/01/2013
Anthony Mundine
BRENDAN ESPOSITO/Fairfax Australia

HEATED: Anthony Mundine at Monday's press conference to promote his bout with Daniel Geale.

Daniel Geale prepares to fight Mundine

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Anthony Mundine insists his plan to snub the national anthem at his IBF middleweight title bout is not a stunt to sidetrack Daniel Geale but an attempt to educate and unite Australians.

Mundine has long advocated changing both the national anthem and the flag because he believes they are symbols of a racist past in which Aborigines weren't officially counted as people until 1967 and had to survive the country's White Australia Policy.

With his fight against Geale tomorrow coming just days after Australia Day and being widely considered the biggest bout in Australia since Mundine beat Danny Green at Allianz Stadium in 2006, the outspoken 37-year-old believes it is an ideal opportunity to highlight the issue.

''I don't mean to incite any racism or anything like that,'' Mundine said.

''I am just trying to make people aware and educate them because most of them don't know the story.

''The truth is, that anthem was composed in the 1800s when Aborigines were considered fauna.

"From 1901 to 1973 there was a White Australia Policy to make Australia white, and guess what the theme song of that policy was - Advance Australia Fair. So what are they really singing, Advance Australia White.''

Initially written in 1878 by Scottish composer Peter Dodds McCormick, lyrics about how Australians ''still keep a British soul'' were removed when Advance Australia Fair replaced God Save the Queen as the national anthem in 1984.

''I am a guy who has always stood up for what I believe in, and if people were educated on that and knew the facts they would say let's change it for the better - for all Australians,'' Mundine said.

''I am not trying to divide people, I am trying to unite people. I have got white brothers, I have got white friends that I grew up with from school, but I want Australia to recognise the injustices and the wrongs, and it is an injustice that it still is the anthem.

''I want something that represents all Australians, not just something that represents the white Australia, which back in those days was very racist. There is still racism today but let's try to breed it out and move forward.''

Despite Geale also having indigenous heritage, the issue of race featured heavily at an explosive press conference yesterday headlined by the two boxers that also included American promoter Gary Shaw and undercard fighters.

After demanding that his critics acknowledge him as the best athlete ever if he beats Geale to claim a fourth world title, Mundine was forced to respond to questioning about the circumstances behind his departure from rugby league in 2000.

''I don't know why you want to hate on me, because I am me, because I am real,'' Mundine said. ''Name someone else who has crossed over like me and conquered two sports like me.

''You know they gypped me in football, that's why I left the game ... I left at its height and I was the highest-paid player in the league at the time. Money talks.''

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Challenged on his claims that racism cost him the chance to play for the Kangaroos when Laurie Daley was Test five-eighth, Mundine said: ''He didn't claim to be Aboriginal, he was like this fella [Geale]. He never claimed to be Koori''.

He also said the late Arthur Beetson, who was the Australian chairman of selectors, was ''joined to the system''.

''He might have been chairman of selectors but he didn't make the decisions,'' Mundine said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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