The first Indigenous person to win a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games and celebrated Bourke local Percy Hobson has died at age 79.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains images of a person who has died.
- Percy Hobson spent his youth training with a makeshift high jump stand
- A water tower mural of the late gold medallist stands in his hometown of Bourke
- A funeral will be held next Wednesday in Melbourne
The Ngemba man, who one of 10 children to Fanny Williams and Percy Hobson, and the grandson of renowned Aboriginal tracker Frank Williams, died on Tuesday.
In 1962, Mr Hobson famously cleared a record jump of 6 feet 11 inches and won gold in the men’s high jump at the British Empire Commonwealth Games in Perth, defeating the two-time Olympic silver medallist Charles “Chiller” Porter.
The win was the result of years of hard work and dedication at his childhood home in the rural town of Bourke in far west New South Wales.
With no athletics club in town, Mr Hobson built a makeshift high jump stand out of old poles and clothesline wire and spent his youth training in his beloved sport.
Hobson’s legacy lives on
Mr Hobson’s achievements have long been recognised by the Bourke community.
His Commonwealth gold was not only Bourke’s pride, but represented an opportunity for other Aboriginal athletes across Australia aspiring to compete at an elite level.
A mural was commissioned and painted on a water tower in Mr Hobson’s hometown earlier this year.
Lightning Ridge artist John Murray, who painted the mural, recalled the look of awe in the local children’s eyes when it was first completed.
“It gives hope to the community. It makes everybody be aware of his incredible story,” Mr Murray said.
After Mr Hobson’s passing, the mural not only celebrates those trailblazing achievements but also stands as a vivid and colourful reminder of the incredible life he lived.
The mural is still to be officially unveiled sometime this year.
Percy Hobson will be farewelled by his family, including four children and five grandchildren, next Wednesday at a funeral in Melbourne.