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Mundine, Anthony (1975–?)

PUBLICATION: Anthony Mundine with Daniel Lane, The Man, ​Sydney,  Pan Macmillan, 2000

SEX: Male

BIRTH DATE: May 21 1975

BIRTH PLACE: Newtown, New South Wales

LANGUAGES SPOKEN: English

SIGNIFICANT LOCALITIES:

  • Redfern, Sydney: An Aboriginal suburb of Sydney, where Anthony’s father gym is situated. Anthony took some of his teammates with him to visit Redfern, so that they could bear witness to the poor conditions in which Aboriginal people live. (p.65)
  • Despite its dilapidated condition and well-publicized violence, Anthony claims that Redfern is in fact the safest place for “modern Aboriginal” to live, as it is the only suburb in Sydney in which they represent a majority. (pp.65-66)
  • Brisbane: Mundine moved to Brisbane in 1996 after signing with the Broncos. (p.8)

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL:

  • Anthony followed Solomon Haumono to London, when his best friend broke his contract with Canterbury, and made the spontaneous, stress-induced decision to fly there to visit his girlfriend. (p.12)
  • Anthony also went to San Francisco to “chill out” after he failed to be selected for the Tri-Series Team. (p.186)

EXPERIENCE OF EDUCATION:

  • While Anthony was not particularly successful in school, he is proud of the fact that he obtained his Higher School Certificate. (p.17-19) He does not relate his own experiences, however Anthony does elaborate upon his belief in the importance of education, which was instilled in him by his parents.
  • Anthony ranks education above sporting success as the most the important avenue for Aboriginal advancement, as he believes they are underrepresented in professional and political arenas.
  • Anthony critiques the negative attitude towards education that prevails in the Aboriginal community, and describes his own efforts to change young peoples approach to schooling. (p.17-19)
  • Anthony also emphasizes the importance of including Aboriginal culture and history in the school curriculum, and for it to be taught by Aboriginal teachers. (p.20) Anthony claims that because of the inadequacy of the current system, he was forced to educate himself in Aboriginal history and politics via the internet. (p.20)

Religion:

  • Anthony was baptized in the Church of England, however religion was not a dominant feature of his upbringing. (p.27) Nonetheless, Mundine developed a strong belief in the existence of a divine creator, however he struggled to comprehend the concept of the Christian Holy Trinity. (p.27)
  • Anthony claims that this confusion led him to Islam, and states that after three years of reading the Koran, he correctly identified the divine creator as the Muslim God Allah. (p.27) Anthony claims to have abandoned Christianity because of its association with colonization. (p.28)
  • Anthony also declares that he has had to look to other cultures for religious guidance, because contemporary Western society has become morally bankrupt. (p.28) Of the problems facing both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, Anthony lists disrespect for the older generation (p.75) as well as the prevalence of “greed, oppression and power.” (p.30)
  • Anthony explicitly rejects the suggestion that he adopted Islam simply because it a religion shared by boxer Muhammad Ali and Black Power activist Malcolm X. (p.28) Instead, he claims that his religious ethics derive from a personal reading of the Koran. (p.28) Anthony calls on others to study the Koran, and to make their own decisions about Allah’s will. (p.31)
  • Following his conversion to Islam, Anthony claims to have prayed five times a day, ate only halal meat, refrained from pork, abstained from alcohol, tobacco and pre-marital sex, avoided the “trappings of materialism” (p.29) and fasted over Ramadam. (p.31) He believes that this asceticism strenghtened his character, and was happy to have also converted other Aboriginal men to Islam. (p.32)

EXPERIENCE OF EMPLOYMENT:

  • Anthony does not discuss any other occupations he has pursued besides professional sport. As well as being from a sporting family, Mundine claims that he demonstrated the “God-given gifts” necessary to become a professional footballer at a young age. (p.44) This includes “speed, turn of pace, balance, defensive skill, a lack of fear, and intuition, enterprise and a class which can’t be taught at any school.”(p.144)
  • As a child, Anthony excelled at both Rugby League and boxing.
  • Anthony does not elaborate upon the path he took to become an elite football player, nor give the details of his contract with the St. George Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos.
  • Anthony believes that he proved himself to be the best player in the League, but that his talent often goes unrecognized due to people prejudice against him. (p.152)
  • Anthony relates his disappointed when he failed to make the Australian Tri-Series team in 1998. (p.161) Anthony believed that he deserved a position, and blamed the selectors’ “blind favouritism” for the outcome. (p.182)
  • As well as his disenchantment with the “repressive sport” of Rugby League, Anthony’s exclusion from the Tri-Series team prompted his decision to switch to a career in professional boxing. (p.161) Anthony was also driven to boxing by his desire to become a champion in a global sport (boxing), rather than merely a champion in a sport valued in Australia. (p.200)
  • Towards the end of his book, Anthony expresses his confidence in his future as a professional boxer.

IMPORTANT INSTITUTION:

  • Elouera: The gym owned by Tony Mundine, when Anthony trained when he changed to boxing. (p.97)

SALIENT LAWS AND POLICIES:

  • In 1998, Anthony accused Rugby League opponent Barry Ward of calling him a ‘black c*%t”. Under the racial vilification conditions of the Racial Discrimination Act, Ward was fined $10,000 by the Human Rights Commission. (pp.171-177)

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH:

  • Mundine suffered from an injury in 1997, which lowered his fitness. (p.159)
  • When Anthony failed to gained selection into the Tri-Series team, the media speculated that he was suffering from depression. Anthony refutes these claims. (p.185)

RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENTS:

  • Anthony Mundine (Tony): Anthony’s father was a successful professional fighter. While his parents separated 1984, Tony remains a committed parent and central figure in Anthony’s life. (p.8) Anthony describes his father as “the head of the family”, who “sets the standard for the kids to follow.” (p.7)
  • Tony instilled in Anthony his respect for education, as well as his strident opposition to drug taking.
  • Anthony is particularly proud of the fact the Tony’s self-discipline continued beyond in boxing career, which bucked the historical trend of Aboriginal boxers. (p.97)
  • Anthony also extols his father’s humility and dedication to the Aboriginal community, (p.212) for which he was rewarded an Order of Australia in 1986. (p.8)
  • Anthony expresses his disappointment that his father did not receive the sporting fame that believes that he deserved until later in life. (pp. 5-6,94)
  • Anthony uses his autobiography as an opportunity to declare his love and respect for his father.
  • Lyn Mundine: Anthony expressed his love for his mother thanks her for her role in raising him, however he claims that his father had a greater influence in his life. (p.5)

Relationships with partners:

  • Danielle: A woman of African-American descent, who is the mother of Anthony’s daughter Jada. Anthony describes Danielle as a “generous woman and brilliant mother.” (p.58)

Relationship with children:

  • At the time of writing his autobiography, Jada was only nineteenth months old. In her short life, Mundine claims that Jada had brought him not only “tremendous joy” but also a strong sense of purpose.  (p.57) In his story, Anthony includes a letter that he had written for his daughter. (p.58)

IMPORTANT/INFLUENTIAL FIGURES:

  • Grandma Audrey: Anthony’s paternal grandmother, who gave him the nickname “Choc”. (p.4)
  • Poppa Mundine: Anthony’s paternal grandfather, who suffered from alcoholism. (p.4) While Anthony, like his father, is personally opposed to drug use, he does not harshly judge his grandfather. (p.4) Rather, he sees his grandfather’s problems with alcohol as a symptom of his struggle with deaths in the family and racism. (p.4)
  • Eileen McGuinness: Mundine’s maternal grandmother, who he describes as a member of the stolen generation (p.4)
  • Solomon Haumono (Solo): a childhood playmate and lifelong friend of Anthony’s, whose father was also a boxer. (p.10) Anthony describes Solo as his “soul brother” (p.10), “special pal” (p.11)  ‘The Man’s man’” (p.14), and a “blood brother” (p.204)
  • Anthony described Solo as a very “spiritual person” (p.14) and claims he played a role in converting him to Islam,  (p.29).
  • Solo provide Anthony with essential support during his trials against Barry Ward (p.174) In turn, Anthony brought Solomon home from London, when he broke his contract with Canterbury and went to visit his girlfriend in the United Kingdom. (p.12)
  • When Solo subsequently lost his contract with Canterbury, Mundine pressed the management of the Dragons to sign him. Eventually Solo decided to resign from football to pursue his religious studies. (p.14) Anthony was angered at the time, however he grew to respect Solo’s decision. (p.14)
  • Cathy Freeman: Anthony sees the Gold Medal winning Aboriginal athlete as a “perfect Aboriginal role model”. (p.89)
  • Anthony nonetheless disagrees with Cathy’s decision not to politicize her performance in the Sydney Olympic Games, which be believes was influenced by the “head honchos from SOCOG or the Olympic Federation. (p.89)
  • Nathan Brown: One of Anthony’s teammates while he played for the Dragons, who made him value the Rugby League’s “mateship creed”. (p.142)
  • When Anthony left the country following his exclusion for the Tri-Series team, many of his teammates “came out and bagged” him. (p.186) Nathan was the only person to support Anthony’s decision, and lament the sport’s loss. (p.186)
    “Nathan told the press he was certain I’d played my last game of Rugby League and he described it as a tragedy.”
  • Barry Ward: Barry was fined $10,000 by the Human Rights Commission for racially vilifying Anthony during football match in 1998. (pp.171-177)
  • Danny Weilder: A Sun Herald journalist, to whom Mundine declared his pre-match abstinence, protested against Barry Ward’s racial slur, (p.172) and protested the fact that he wasn’t selected for the Tri-Series. (p.182)
  • David Waite: Anthony’s coach while he was playing for the St. George Dragons, with whom he felt a degree of understanding.
  • When Anthony decided to leave Rugby League and pursue a boxing career, he felt little loyalty for the Dragons. However, he did have reservations about disappointing David. (p.198)
  • Glenn Kelly: An Aboriginal light-heaving weight boxer, who was affronted by Anthony’s confidence upon entry into his chosen sport. While he threatened to punish Anthony in the boxing ring, Anthony claims that he respects and likes Glen. (p.206) Anthony describes Glen as a “brother”, and claims he does not want to compete with him because it would only result in a loss for Aboriginal people. (p.206)
  • Muhhamad Ali: Anthony denies that his conversion to Islam was influenced by the actions of the great African-American boxer and political activist, Muhammad Ali (p.28) He nonetheless cites Ali as a role model, (p.89) and describes himself as the Australian “answer to Muhammad Ali.” (p.214)

THEMES/PREOCCUPATIONS:

Historical Injustice:

  • Mundine explains how he educated himself in the history of colonization via the internet, and relates incidents of early colonial interaction in his autobiography. (p.43-53) Mundine describes his emotional response to this history, and claims that the celebrations of European settlement on Australia Day fill him with a “terrible feeling of emptiness and loneliness that only we, the Aborigines, know”. (p.43)
  • Mundine also describes, and expresses outrage at, the removal of Aboriginal children from their parents, (p.59) and he complains about Prime Minister John Howard’s refusal to make a formal apology for government policies. (p.64)

Contemporary Racism and Social problems:

  • Mundine relates his personal experiences of racism. The claims that his Aboriginality was not an issue for him before the age of nine.
  • When racism did arise, Mundine often resorted to force to defend himself. Mundine explains that, while he became more of a pacifist in later life, violence was an effective way of silencing slights in his youth. (p.19)
  • When Anthony resigned from Rugby League, he gave the racist culture surrounding the sport as one of his reasons. (p.39) This includes being described as a “black c***” by Barry Ward. (p.171)
  • Anthony describes the critical reception that his explanation received, and defends his initial remark. (p.41)
  • Anthony believes that the harsh criticism he has received for being outspoken and controversial is in part due to his Aboriginality.
  • Anthony uses statistics to support his statements about the continuing socio-economic gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. (p.54)
  • Anthony claims that this  “vicious cycle of poverty” forces Aboriginal people to turn to crime. (p.71) He believes this cycle is exacerbated rather than abated by police suspicion and brutality. (pp.72, 79-81) Anthony relates “shameful stories” of mandatory sentencing, inappropriate use of force and deaths in custody. (pp- 79-87)
  • Anthony also recalls his own traumatizing experiences with law enforcement agents, including having a gun pointed in his face,  (pp.81-82) and being “dragged from my car and into a policy paddy wagon on account of our skin colour.” (p.87)
  • Anthony claims that another symptom of the cycle of poverty is a “growing drug culture”. (p.17-19) Anthony stridently rejects the use of illicit drugs as well as alcohol, which he attributes this to his father’s influence. (p.21-23)
  • Mundine describes his own shock and confusion when a close friend offered him illicit drugs. (p.21)
  • Mundine also comments on the negative effects of alcohol on Aboriginal people, which he claims has become the “mother’s milk” to many. (p.23) Ultimately, he claims, the responsibility for Aboriginal alcoholism lies at the feet of Europeans: who not only introduced drugs, but also perpetuate and exploit Aboriginal drug abuse for their own ends. (p.23, 69-70)
  • Mundine describes his own attempts to change young people’s attitudes towards drugs and alcohol, and condemns public figure who – through their own actions – condone and encourage drug abuse. (pp.22-23)

Aboriginal Success:

  • Anthony highlights the success of Aboriginal people in settler-colonial society, so as to counter the apparently common assumption that they are a “lazy, good-for-nothing race” (p.93)
  • Anthony lists the achievements of his father,(p.94-98) the boxer Lionel Rose (p.98-100), the cricketer Eddie Gilbert (100-104), the tennis player Evonne Cawley (pp.104-106), the musicians Yothu Yindi (pp.106-107) the soldier Captain Walter Saunders (pp.108-112), the rugby players Mark, Glen and Gary Ella (p.112-113) the artist Albert Namatjira (p.113), the actor and comedian Ernie Dingo (pp.116-117), the singer Harold Blair (pp.117-119) the sprinter Patrick Johnson (p.119-121), the Australian Rules played Nicky Winmar (p.121-123), the Olympic hurdler Kyle Vander-Kuyp (p.123-124) and the athlete Cathy Freeman (p.124-125)
  • Anthony hopes that this own success will also stand as an example of Aboriginal innate ability for Indigenous youth and the general community.
  • Anthony defends himself against accusations of egoism on these grounds, saying that his expressions of self-confidence are designed to inspire Aboriginal youth.

Aboriginal Political Action:

  • Anthony briefly relays the history of Aboriginal political activism, focusing largely on that which developed in Redfern in the 1970s. (p.66) Anthony has proudly positions himself as part of this tradition, and celebrates the fact that this sporting success has allowed him to project a political message.
  • Anthony criticizes other Aboriginal sportspeople, particularly Cathy Freeman, who are less inclined to use sport as a political tool. (p.89) Anthony claims that his move from Rugby League was motivated not only by his desire to win a world championship, but also because he felt an international sport will enable him to better representative for Aboriginal people. (p.200)
  • Anthony claims that political action with only be effective if Aboriginal people form a unified and independent movement. Anthony emphasizes the need for a “true brotherhood and sisterhood among Aborigines”, (p.32) and for Aboriginal people to “stop thinking what the white man had taught him” (p.35)

Media Controversy:

  • Anthony describes the criticism he has received following his controversial media statements, and dismisses these attacks as evidence of the Rugby League’s repressive culture, media bias, racial discrimination, and envy.
  • As well rejecting his claims about racism in Rugby League, Anthony claims the media subjected him to a “cruxification” (p.139 – incorrect page reference) when he made disparaging remarks about the Melbourne Storm. (pp.136-137) Anthony was also the subject of mockery after his public declaration in 1998 that he was abstaining from sex before a match. (p.153)
  • Anthony created another controversy by challenging his exclusion from the Tri-Series team. (p.161-170) Anthony believes that he skilled enough to “wear the green and gold”, but was been precluded from the team for political reasons. (p.161)
  • Anthony complains that other sportspeople, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, are unwilling to take public position of contentious issues. Anthony calls for Rugby League players to “emancipate” themselves from the “shackles that cripple the overwhelming majority of players”, which preventing them from speaking their mind. (p.131) He also calls on them “come out of their shell”, and to infuse the sport with raw emotions. (p.132)

MODE OF LITERARY PRODUCTION: The Man is also by Daniel Lane

Additional Resources

Source Project

This biographical entry was contributed by Australian Indigenous Autobiography Archive

Citation details

'Mundine, Anthony (1975–?)', Indigenous Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/mundine-anthony-17820/text29404, accessed 23 September 2017.

© Copyright Indigenous Australia, 2012