Anthony Mundine's incredible act for Gordon Tallis' dying sister

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Gordon Tallis praised the sensitive and caring side of Mundine that not everyone got to see. Pic: Getty
Gordon Tallis praised the sensitive and caring side of Mundine that not everyone got to see. Pic: Getty

Anthony Mundine officially bowed out of Australian sport on Wednesday as one of the most polarising figures of recent memory.

Loved and loathed by the public - doubtfully in equal measures - Mundine was one of the great self-promoters.

'DISRESPECTFUL': Tim Tszyu rages over Anthony Mundine 'circus'

BOMBSHELL: Tyson's shock $32 million Evander Holyfield move

Behind the brash, arrogant and cocky persona that rubbed so many people up the wrong way, lay a thoughtful and caring soul that had a profound impact on so many lives.

One look at the who's who of sporting identities that turned out for his Sydney farewell on Wednesday offered proof of that.

One of those Aussie sporting legends in attendance was fellow rugby league great Gordon Tallis, who revealed a heartwarming story about Mundine and his dying sister.

The Queensland and Kangaroos great was playing for Mundine's old team the Dragons at the time and recalled the incident that highlighted the type of person 'The Man' was.

Tallis revealed how Mundine rushed, unannounced, to his sister Jannita's death bed in Queensland before cancer took her life in 2009.

"That's the side I see. That is the Anthony Mundine that I know," Tallis told AAP.

"The Anthony Mundine the public sees, I don't know that bloke. It's there to get publicity and to sell fights and he's certainly done that.

"He sold them all on his own.

"But everybody's here because of the person he is, not because of his sporting career.

"He actually flew from Sydney to go see my sister (before she died) so that's the person we all know away from the sport.

"I just wish Australia saw him the way his mates see him.

"He's a great fella and in the toughest times he'll always have your back."

Seen here, Anthony Mundine reacts to a call from surfing legend Kelly Slater.
Anthony Mundine got a surprise call from surfing legend Kelly Slater. Pic: Getty

Despite how polarising he's been over the years, Mundine drew only plaudits and respect after formally retiring from all sport on Wednesday.

The sporting who's who of attendees included NRL super-coach Wayne Bennett, former rugby league teammates and rivals Laurie Daley, Matthew Johns, Tallis, and AFL great Michael O'Loughlin.

Eleven-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater even phoned in to congratulate his friend on an extraordinary career, while Australian cricket coach Justin Langer was among those to send video messages to the triple world boxing champion and rugby league premiership winner.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

In retirement, Mundine will continue being an Indigenous leader, providing employment pathways for his people through his business.

The 45-year-old will also help Indigenous youth with their mental health.

Mundine hailed as a 'wonderful human being'

Daley believes Mundine's legacy will extend well beyond his sporting achievements.

"What a wonderful human being he is," Daley said.

"We all admire what he does in the boxing ring and on the rugby league field, but it goes much deeper than that.

"Choc's been a wonderful ambassador for the Indigenous community. He sticks up for his people, he's very passionate about what he does.

"Someone that stands up for his own convictions and what he believes in.

"He is without doubt one of Australia's greatest ever sportsmen but, while he's had a wonderful career in rugby league and in the ring, I think we're about to see the start of a bigger legacy."

Budding boxing superstar Tim Tszyu said Mundine was a hero to him who revitalised the sport in Australia following his famous father Kostya's retirement in 2005.

"He's done great for Aussie boxing. It had a bit of a pause and stop after my dad's career and he brought it back," Tszyu told AAP.

"Everyone was in pubs and watching the fights, so he brought it back.

"He had some great fights in Australia. A hundred per cent big respect for him."

Johns said Mundine's rugby league feats - including a 6-0 winning record over Daley and Brad Fittler when going head-to-head with the two greats as a five-eighth - also should not be forgotten.

"Choc was such a wonderful player and such a difficult guy to come up against," Johns said.

"I remember one day playing at Kogarah, he beat me twice with his beautiful left-foot step and the second time he walked past me, he said: 'Give it away, old man' and I was actually 24."

Mundine says winning the 1997 Super League title under Bennett and claiming his first world boxing title with victory over "gangster" American Antwun Echols in 2003, were the two biggest highlights of his career.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.