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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Damien Hooper's Aboriginal Flag T-shirt

Aboriginal boxer Damien Hooper loves his nan, Lillian Weribone, and wanted her to know. So when he marched with the Aussie team at the Opening Ceremony, he made a sign and held it up. His nan said "I cried my head off, it was unexpected and all the other family members were blubbering as well, win or lose, he's my champion."

Knowing that all his family and friends back home would be glued to the television, he wore a T-shirt with a picture of the Aboriginal flag on the front when he stepped into the ring.  But it went down like a lead balloon and was seen as a political statement and anything to do with politics is not allowed.

Hooper said "I'm Aboriginal and I'm representing my culture, not only my country, but all my people as well." He added "That's what I wanted  to do and I'm happy I did it."

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter bans demonstrations or political, religious or racial propaganda at any Olympic venue.  IOC spokesman Damian Kelly said "He apologised to the team and said he would not wear it again."

Hooper won his first Olympic bout against American Marcus Browne 13-11.

Kathy Freeman carried both the Australian and Aboriginal Flags when she won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  I didn't see it as a slight against our flag then, and don't find Hooper's T-shirt offensive now, just two outstanding indigenous athletes being proud of who they are.