'Terribly sad': Australian sporting icon killed in tragic accident

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
John Forbes, pictured here before his tragic death.
Australian sporting icon John Forbes (R) was found dead on his property in rural Victoria. Image: Twitter

The Australian sporting community is mourning the tragic death of legendary icon John Forbes OAM.

The 79-year-old was found dead on his rural property in Mitiamo on Sunday morning, about 220km north of Melbourne.

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Forbes' body was found in Bendigo Creek. It is believed he fell in while trying to fill a bucket of water for his garden.

Forbes' body was reportedly discovered by a neighbour, who alerted police.

Police said his death is not being treated as suspicious.

Forbes was the National Promotions Manager at PUMA Australia for 22 years, where he identified and signed some of the country's biggest sporting heroes such as Shane Warne, Merv Hughes, Wayne Carroll and Melinda Gainsford Taylor.

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He also founded police charity the Tynan Eyre Foundation, now known as the Blue Ribbon Foundation.

The charity honours the memories of fallen police officers.

“He was an absolute legend … the most generous bloke you’d ever meet,” Forbes' close friend Geoff Wilkinson told the Herald Sun.

“To say he’d be remembered fondly would be the world’s greatest understatement.

“He was not a fly-by-night sort of friend. Once he was a friend, he was a friend for life.”

Sporting community mourns death of John Forbes

Victorian cricket great Darren Berry led the tributes on social media.

"This morning the world lost one of the greatest men I’ve met in my lifetime," he wrote.

"A great friend & life mentor, above all else a truly remarkable humble man.

"John Forbes you guided so many of us on our sporting journeys.

"I’ll never forget you. Love to Faye & the boys at this sad time."

Peter Filopoulos from Football Australis wrote: "Truly saddened to hear about the loss of a dear friend & great friend of football, John Forbes, also fondly known as Forbsey!

"A long time servant of ⁦PUMA & strong supporter of so many players & clubs including South Melbourne Football Club during my time. RIPForbesy."

Collingwood legend Tony Shaw tweeted: "Bloody hell what horrible news of the passing of John Forbes.

"Mr Puma as we called him. A beautiful man. Condolences to family and friends."

While veteran journalist and commentator Stephen Quartermain added: "Another terribly sad day. As we lose yet another magnificent human.

"Vale John Forbes. A man who did so much for so many."

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Forbes amassed an incredible collection of sporting memorabilia throughout his career, which makes up the majority of the Rochester Sports Museum.

In 2017 he was awarded the Order of Australia for his dedication to the community.

He leaves behind wife Fay, two sons and six grandchildren.

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