One of the iconic images in sports history was staged in Australia 30 years later. The reason: still racism

Nicky Winmar was fed up, seething with the racist slurs he heard on the field during the St. Kilda and Collingwood when, at some point, he stopped walking, lifted his sleeveless shirt, pointed to his own torso and said: “I am black and I am proud to be black”. The moment triggered the shooting of several cameras. The next day, he had the image splashed across the front page of the Sunday Age, one of Australia’s preeminent newspapers. Today it still echoes in collections of the most iconic images in sports history.

Captured in 1993 and in a period of strong social protest due to the loss of rights of the country’s aboriginal population, the photograph was remembered by “The Guardian”, a few days ago, as one of the 50 that “redefined sport”. Nicky Winmar played Australian football, or ‘Aussie rules’ as they call it, that indigenous modality with an oval ball and three pairs of posts on each side of the field that makes the natives vibrate. The former practitioner became the face of the anti-racist struggle in the country, statues were built in his honor, he is a reference for the moment he starred.

Paul Kane/Getty

On Thursday night, so many years later, one can still see how little has changed in terms of respect for difference and the temptation to use skin color to hurl mindless insults. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, another Australian football player, replicated Winmar’s gesture after hitting the posts at Western Bulldogs-Brisbane – he stopped, turned to the bench, lifted his jersey and pointed to the body.

A week ago, 20-year-old Jamarra was the target of racist insults against St. Kilda, episode that is being investigated by the Australian Football League (AFL). While nothing happened, he decided to stage the iconic protest and rescue the symbolism of the gesture. “At that time, they faced a worse context and today the players are fed up, that’s why they adopt this position. we have to confront [quem insulta racialmente] and everyone is supporting us”, said Ugle-Hagan, who preferred a swift and effective action by those who organize the league rather than having to take measures such as the recovery of the historic protest: “I just want to see someone identify them instead of me contacting my club and saying this happened. Or for someone in the audience to tell them it’s not right for them to do that.”

Like Nick Winmar, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is also a descendant of aborigines, a population in Australia that has the right to its own flag in the country, hoisted on all that are public and state buildings.


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