He had suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him partially paralyzed and with speech difficulties.
As well as being a much loved and respected Australian identity, we mention this sad news as Elvis appreciated Lionel too, personally asking for a meeting when both were in L.A., Elvis was filming The Trouble with Girls.
Lionel Rose: 'I was punching a heavy bag in a gym in L.A., and I hear a voice sing out, 'Hey, Lionel! What's doin'?' And it was Elvis himself', Rose recalled. 'I was in awe of him, but he said he was in awe of me'.
Lionel Rose was nearing the end of a hard training session when he got the message that Elvis Presley wanted to meet him. It was December 1968 and the 20-year-old Aboriginal boxer had come to Los Angeles to defend his world bantamweight title against Mexican challenger Chucho Castillo. But the bout was still two days away, and an invitation from the King was not something to be passed up. Elvis was, after all, a big favourite of Lionel's mum. Rose 'pulled off the gloves, jumped under the shower and drove straight to the MGM lot'.
Elvis was shooting the movie The Trouble with Girls. A runner on the set, a fight fan, had suggested the get-together, judging that the two men would get along well. He was right. They spent two hours together, talking about music and the manly arts. As well as conversation, there was a little light sparring - strictly for the camera - and an autographed US dollar bill as a gift for Lionel's mum back home.
Would Elvis ever come to Australia? Rose wondered. Too far away, said the King.
They parted as friends, the young boxer 'pleased as punch' by the encounter.
Lionel Rose and Elvis Presley meet on the set of The Trouble With Girls 1969.
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