There are two competing versions of why, after a Stkilda victory over Collingwood in an AFL match at Collingwood’s old suburban home ground of Victoria Park (notoriously “rough” and intimidating for a visiting team) in 1993, Nicky Winmar lifted his jumper at the crowd and pointed at his body.
Winmar’s version is that he was racially abused by some in the crowd during the game, and when it ended and St Kilda had won, he made the gesture to show he was not intimidated by the abuse. Winmar claims he shouted out
I am black and I am proud to be black
And teammate and fellow Aboriginal Gilbert McAdam swears blind that he heard Winmar say this, even if no-one in the crowd could have heard it from a distance.
Others, including ex Hawthorn captain Don Scott and sport journalist Mike Sheahan, disagree. On Sam Newman‘s podcast You can’t be serious Scott and Sheahan claimed that the gesture was a reference to courage, guts, and competitive spirit, i.e. nothing to do with race.
Bloated precious Winmar complained:
These white fellas are tarnishing my legacy. I know what I said. I am not a liar
He took legal action against Newman, et al. accusing them of “racially vilifying” him (a crime, theoretically) and attempting to rewrite “Aboriginal history”, and now, after a tortuous six hour long mediation session, has extracted a grovelling apology from the three men:
We acknowledge what Nicky did was an act of Indigenous pride and defiance. It was also a powerful statement of solidarity for Indigenous Australians who are subjected to racism and vilification.
Any suggestion otherwise was wrong. We have reflected deeply on the issues. We accept what was said during the podcast has damaged Nicky’s reputation. We understand many people would regard what we said as racially discriminatory of Nicky and Indigenous Australians. For all these reasons, we sincerely apologise to Nicky Winmar and to Indigenous Australians generally.
There is nothing “racially discriminatory” or “racially vilifying” about having a difference of opinion about some minor historical event, and the issue is a personal one between Winmar and the others, nothing to do with other “Indigenous Australians”. Complete madness.