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Nicky Winmar

Nicky Winmar
A famous photograph in which Winmar points proudly at his skin in a gesture of defiance at racial abuse in 1993
Personal information
Full name Neil Elvis Winmar
Nickname(s) "Cuz"
Date of birth (1965-09-25) 25 September 1965 (age 58)
Place of birth Kellerberrin, Western Australia
Original team(s) Pingelly (UGSFL)
Height 183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 81 kg (179 lb)
Position(s) Half-forward flank, wing
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1983–1986 South Fremantle 090 0(98)
1987–1998 St Kilda 230 (283)
1999 Western Bulldogs 021 0(34)
Total 341 (451)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1988–97 Western Australia 8 (10)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1999.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

Neil Elvis "Nicky" Winmar (born 25 September 1965) is a former Australian rules footballer, best known for his career for St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League (AFL), as well as South Fremantle in the West Australian Football League. An Indigenous Australian man, he was the first Aboriginal footballer to play 200 games in the AFL, and was named in the Indigenous Team of the Century in 2005. He was involved in several incidents of racial vilification during his career, and a photograph of Winmar responding to one such incident during the 1993 season has been described as one of the most memorable images in Australian sporting history.

Growing up in Pingelly in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, Winmar began his career with South Fremantle, playing 58 games at the club before being recruited prior to the 1987 season by St Kilda. In a twelve-season career with St Kilda, Winmar won the club's best and fairest award, the Trevor Barker Award, in 1989 and 1995 and was also twice named in the All-Australian team. He left St Kilda at the end of the 1998 season and was drafted by the Western Bulldogs, playing one further season in the AFL before retiring at the end of the 1999 season. Having represented Western Australia in eight interstate matches, Winmar was named in St Kilda's Team of the Century in 2003 and was inducted into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Early life

Neil Elvis Winmar[1] was born on 25 September 1965[2][3] in Kellerberrin, Western Australia,[4] to Neal and Meryle Winmar.[5] His father, Neal Winmar, was born in a tent under a tree. Nicky grew up on an Aboriginal reserve in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt,[6] near the town of Pingelly,[5] in a windowless shack made of corrugated iron with a dirt floor, no running water or sewerage. The reserve had a 6pm curfew, and discipline was harsh. Winmar left school by the age of 15, and worked as a shearer.[6]

Early career

Winmar played for the Brookton/Pingelly Football Club in the Upper Great Southern Football League (UGSFL) from an early age.[7] Aged 15, he won a senior best and fairest in an A-grade local competition.[6]

He was subsequently recruited by South Fremantle in the Perth-based WAFL, after the club's coach at the time, Mal Brown, saw Winmar playing for Brookton/Pingelly.[7] He made his senior debut for South Fremantle in round nine of the 1983 season, aged 17, and played a total of 13 games in his debut season. In the beginning, he was used across the wings and half-forward flanks, but was later played as a rover, although he remained a regular goal-kicker.[8] In total, Winmar played 58 games for South Fremantle from 1983 to 1986 and kicked 98 goals.[4]

VFL/AFL career

Winmar became known as "Cuz", as it was his habit to address everyone by this word.[9]

St Kilda

Winmar transferred to the St Kilda Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL) for the 1987 season, making his debut for the club in Round 1 against Geelong at Moorabbin Oval.[10] Having played 20 games in his debut season and kicking 37 goals, Winmar finished second in the club's best and fairest count behind Tony Lockett (who went on to win the Brownlow) and also polled 10 votes in the Brownlow Medal.[11] In 1988, he kicked 43 goals from 21 games to be the club's leading goalkicker and again finished runner-up in the best and fairest count, this time to Danny Frawley.[10] After an outstanding season in 1989, Winmar won St Kilda's best and fairest award and was also named in the VFL's Team of the Year on a half-forward flank.[12] He also finished equal third in the 1989 Brownlow Medal, polling 16 votes from his 22 games.[13]

After a match against Hawthorn in Round 19 of the 1990 season, Winmar was suspended for 10 matches for kicking and eye-gouging Dermott Brereton.[14] Brereton later apologised to Winmar for racially abusing him during the game.[15] He returned to football in round seven of the 1991 season, recording 33 disposals and one goal against Adelaide at Moorabbin.[10] Winmar's performances throughout the rest of the season led to him being named in the inaugural AFL All-Australian team.[12] Winmar played a further 23 games in the 1992 season, including the club's semi-final loss to Footscray. At the conclusion of the season, Winmar was named the winner of the Mark of the Year competition, for a spectacular mark taken at Subiaco Oval against West Coast.[16] In round four of the 1993 season, Indigenous players Winmar and Gilbert McAdam were racially abused by Collingwood supporters, eventually being awarded two and three Brownlow Medal votes in a game St Kilda won by 22 points. The week after the game, Winmar was involved in a dispute with St Kilda over his level of pay, in particular, injury payments, and did not play for the next two weeks.[11]

Playing a total of 17 games in 1994, Winmar missed three weeks late in the season after being suspended for striking.[14] At the end of the season, Winmar was also refused clearance by St Kilda to play in the Aboriginal All-Stars game, held at Marrara Oval in Darwin.[17] In 1995, Winmar played in each of St Kilda's 22 games, winning the club's best and fairest award for a second time and also being named in the All-Australian team. In the pre-season competition held prior to the start of the 1996 season, the 1996 Ansett Australia Cup, Winmar played in St Kilda's team which defeated Carlton by 58 points in the grand final held at Waverley Park and was awarded the Michael Tuck Medal as best on ground.[18] Having damaged the medial collateral ligament of his knee in the round three game against Melbourne, Winmar missed nine matches in the early part of the 1996 season before returning in the latter part of the season.[19] Winmar played his 200th game for the club in round 17 of the 1997 season, against the Brisbane Lions at Waverley Park, becoming the first Indigenous player to reach the milestone in the AFL.[20] He also played in St Kilda's loss to Adelaide in the 1997 Grand Final, having kicked three goals against North Melbourne in the preliminary final the previous week.[10]

Tribunal record
Year Charge Penalty
1988 Striking No penalty
1990 Charging No penalty
1990 Kicking, eye-gouging Suspended ten matches
1992 Charging No penalty
1994 Striking Suspended three matches
1994 Striking No penalty
1995 Disputing umpire's
Fined A$1,500

In 1998, in what was to be his last season for St Kilda, Winmar played 23 games and kicked 16 goals.[10] He was heavily criticised during the club's match against Carlton in Round 20 after spending much of the game fighting with opponents, finishing with only eight disposals.[21] Winmar was suspended by the club for the following match but returned to play for the club in the finals series. After the match, Winmar's manager, Peter Jess, was criticised for making comments in an interview with radio station 3AW suggesting that Aboriginal players were unable to cope with the pressures introduced by "white society".[22]

Western Bulldogs

Winmar was dismissed from St Kilda at the end of the 1998 season after Tim Watson replaced Stan Alves as coach of the club.[23] Despite being contracted for another year, the club terminated Winmar's contract as a result of his behaviour and lack of discipline over the previous season.[24] He was then selected by the Western Bulldogs with the 30th pick overall in the 1998 National Draft, having been considered a chance to be drafted by Collingwood, North Melbourne or Carlton.[25] Winmar played a total of 21 games for the club, kicking 34 goals, before retiring from the Western Bulldogs at the end of the 1999 season, halfway through a two-year contract, citing issues with a commitment to training and injuries.[26] Winmar was named National Aboriginal Sportsman of the Year at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Awards held in Hobart, Tasmania, sharing the award with rugby league player Cliff Lyons.[27]

Racial vilification

Winmar was involved in a number of controversial incidents involving alleged acts of racial vilification against him by other players and staff during his career. The most notable one, which created a now iconic photograph of Winmar, occurred in 1993.[28]

In a match for St Kilda against Collingwood in Round 4 of the 1993 season, Winmar was racially abused by members of the Collingwood cheer squad, who yelled for him to "go and sniff some petrol" and "go walkabout where you came from".[16] At the conclusion of the game, which St Kilda won by 22 points, Winmar lifted up his jumper and, facing to the crowd, pointed to his skin. The following day, a photograph (pictured right) of Winmar's gesture, taken by Wayne Ludbey, was published in the Sunday Age under the headline "Winmar: I'm black and proud of it", with the Sunday Herald Sun publishing a similar photograph under the caption "I've got guts".[5]

He was unaware of the photo until he saw it published the following day, and did not enjoy the attention it brought him.[1] He said years later: "After my incident, I walked away from the game for about four or five weeks. I didn't want to come back".[28] However, after the incident two years later when Michael Long made a complaint against Damian Monkhorst for racial abuse, Winmar felt stronger, owing to the support received by the AFL.[1]

On 16 April 2023, at the Round 5 St Kilda-Collingwood game 30 years later, Winmar was celebrated as he tossed the coin at the beginning. Before the game, Collingwood had apologised to Winmar and teammated Gilbert McAdam, who had also been racially abused at the 1993 game.[28]

Legacy of the photo

Statue based on the famous 1993 photo, outside Perth Stadium, erected 2019

Winmar's gesture, described as a "powerful statement", an "anti-racist symbol",[29] and one of the "most poignant" images in Australian sport, has been credited as a catalyst for the movement against racism in Australian football,[9] and compared to the black power salute performed by American athletes at the 1968 Summer Olympics in terms of impact.[30][31] It has been described as one of the most memorable images in Australian sporting history.[32]

The event inspired Indigenous singer-songwriter Archie Roach to write the song "Colour of Your Jumper".[33][28]

The photograph is reproduced in The Game That Made Australia, a mural painted by Jamie Cooper and commissioned by the AFL in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the origins of Australian rules football.[34]

Tony Albert included a watercolour of the photograph in a collage titled Once upon a time, winner of the 2014 Basil Sellers Art Prize.[35]

In July 2019, a 2.75-metre (9 ft 0 in) bronze statue based on the famous photograph was unveiled outside Perth Stadium.[36]

In March 2023, during Round 2 of the 2023 AFL season, Western Bulldogs player Jamarra Ugle-Hagan received a racist remark from a St Kilda supporter when walking off the field at the end of the game. During the following week's game, in celebration of one of five goals he scored, Ugle-Hagan lifted his shirt and pointed to his skin whilst looking at the crowd, emulating Winmar's gesture.[37][28]


Winmar donated the jumper he was wearing in the photograph to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 1998.[38] Prior to the commission's disbanding in 2005, Geoff Clark, the chairman of ATSIC at the time, removed the framed jumper from the commission's offices in Canberra to his home in Warrnambool, Victoria.[39] Clark was forced to return the jumper to Winmar, which was later donated to the National Museum of Australia, where it featured in Off the Walls, an exhibit of Indigenous Australian art.[40] In May 2012, the jumper was auctioned by Sotheby's, but was passed in after the bidding reached A$95,000.[41] In September of the same year, Museum Victoria purchased the jumper for $100,000, with the intention to display it at the First Peoples exhibition at Melbourne Museum in July 2013.[42] The authenticity of the jumper has been questioned, with the St Kilda Football Club publishing a statement in March 2005 suggesting that the jumper given to ATSIC may not have been the actual jumper worn during the game, citing differences between sponsors' logos present on the jumper.[43] Similar questions were raised prior to the jumper's auction in 2012.[44]

Recognition and honours

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1987 10
1988 8
1989 16
1990 1
1991 11
1992 8
1993 5
1994 5
1995 10
1996 1
1997 3
1998 0
1999 4
Total 82

A tournament for under-age Indigenous footballers, the Nicky Winmar Cup, has been contested since 2009 as a joint venture between the West Australian Football Commission and the Western Australian Department of Sport and Recreation, sponsored by Alinta, an energy company.[45][46]



Later life

Following his retirement from the AFL, Winmar played with various clubs in regional and country leagues in Victoria and the Northern Territory, including for the Palmerston Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League;[53] for the Warburton and Seville Football Clubs in the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League; and for Rutherglen and the Wodonga clubs in the Tallangatta & District Football League.[7]

Having previously worked with Denfam (a Melbourne-based construction business) and as a shearer, Winmar was employed in the mining industry and was living in Brookton, Western Australia, as of May 2012.[7] On a visit to Perth in September 2012, Winmar had a heart attack and was hospitalised at Royal Perth Hospital.[54]

Winmar's memoir, My Story: From Bush Kid to AFL Legend, was co-written with Matthew Hardy and published by Allen & Unwin on 31 October 2023.[6]

Personal life

Two of Winmar's cousins, Leroy Jetta and Nicholas Winmar, were formerly listed with AFL clubs (Sydney and St Kilda, respectively).[55]

Winmar was convicted and fined in 2000 for assaulting his ex-wife on Christmas Day of the previous year.[56] In 2019, he pled guilty to a charge of assaulting a taxi driver in March of that year.[57]

Playing statistics

Winmar's player statistics are as follows:[2]

Season Team No. Games Totals Averages (per game)
1987 St Kilda 7 20 37 28 290 82 372 90 39 1.9 1.4 14.5 4.1 18.6 4.5 2.0
1988 St Kilda 7 21 43 39 299 60 359 89 29 2.0 1.9 14.2 2.9 17.1 4.2 1.4
1989 St Kilda 7 22 43 36 329 81 410 102 30 2.0 1.6 15.0 3.7 18.6 4.6 1.4
1990 St Kilda 7 17 26 33 210 97 307 55 26 1.5 1.9 12.4 5.7 18.1 3.2 1.5
1991 St Kilda 7 17 12 13 295 135 430 65 38 0.7 0.8 17.4 7.9 25.3 3.8 2.2
1992 St Kilda 7 23 21 14 388 137 525 102 55 0.9 0.6 16.9 6.0 22.8 4.4 2.4
1993 St Kilda 7 16 12 10 273 102 375 64 37 0.8 0.6 17.1 6.4 23.4 4.0 2.3
1994 St Kilda 7 17 15 12 257 100 357 67 33 0.9 0.7 15.1 5.9 21.0 3.9 1.9
1995 St Kilda 7 22 21 21 386 161 547 97 66 1.0 1.0 17.5 7.3 24.9 4.4 3.0
1996 St Kilda 7 11 10 5 149 75 224 50 16 0.9 0.5 13.5 6.8 20.4 4.5 1.5
1997 St Kilda 7 21 27 18 254 111 365 68 36 1.3 0.9 12.1 5.3 17.4 3.2 1.7
1998 St Kilda 7 23 16 19 307 187 494 109 54 0.7 0.8 13.3 8.1 21.5 4.7 2.3
1999 Western Bulldogs 1 21 34 14 158 73 231 69 13 1.6 0.7 7.5 3.5 11.0 3.3 0.6
Career 251 317 262 3595 1401 4996 1027 472 1.3 1.0 14.3 5.6 19.9 4.1 1.9


  1. ^ a b c d Browne, Ashley (14 June 2022). "Neil Elvis 'Nicky' Winmar: The one, the only, the irreplaceable". St Kilda Football Club. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Nicky Winmar - Statistics". AFL Tables. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Neil Elvis (Nicky) WINMAR". WA Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Hall of Fame inductees – West Australian Football Commission. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Ahmed, Nabila (2003). The day the game changedThe Age online. Published 19 April 2003. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d Horn, Jonathan (30 October 2023). "'It was a horrible day, looking back': Nicky Winmar on his 1993 'Black and proud' moment". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d Toohey, Paul (2010). Nicky Winmar, a legend in his homelandHerald Sun online. Published 29 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  8. ^ Hall of Fame Inductee: Neil Elvis (Nicky) Winmar – NAB WA Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  9. ^ a b Darcy, Luke (2010). Winmar encapsulates indigenous spirit – Australian Football League. Published 21 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e Nicky Winmar – AFL Tables. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  11. ^ a b Neil Elvis (‘Nicky’) Winmar – Nicky Winmar Home Page. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  12. ^ a b Lovett, Michael, ed. (2007). AFL Record Guide to Season 2007. AFL Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9758362-7-9.
  13. ^ 1989 Brownlow Medal – AFL Tables. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  14. ^ a b Historical tribunal record Archived 18 July 2012 at – Australian Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  15. ^ Brereton, Dermott (1998). Goodbye Nicky, I'm sorry for what I did. Published 18 August 1998. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  16. ^ a b Neil Elvis 'Nicky' Winmar Archived 12 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine – St Kilda Football Club. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  17. ^ Moncrieff, Darren (2008). 1994 vs. Collingwood: The AFL embraces change – Aboriginal Football. Published 28 July 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  18. ^ AFL 1996 Ansett Cup Grand Final: St Kilda v Carlton – AFL Media Images. Published 23 March 1996. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  19. ^ Denham, Greg (1996). St Kilda could lose Winmar for seasonThe Age. Published 14 April 1996. Retrieved from the Fairfax Newsstore, 22 June 2012.
  20. ^ AFL Round 17 Archived 21 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Weekly Wrapup. Published 28 July 1997. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  21. ^ Smith, Patrick (1998). Banishment comes after a sin too many. Published 30 September 1998. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  22. ^ Smith, Patrick (1998). Winmar victim of friendly fire. Published 20 August 1998. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  23. ^ SAINTS AXE WINMAR Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine: October 1998 – Footystats. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  24. ^ Denham, Greg (1998). St Kilda ends Winmar's careerThe Age. Published 30 September 1998. Retrieved from the Fairfax Newsstore, 22 June 2012.
  25. ^ Timms, Daryl (1998). "I'm worth a chance"Herald Sun. Published 28 October 1998. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  26. ^ Timms, Darryl (1999). Nicky's Dream EndsHerald Sun. Published 9 November 1999. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  27. ^ Condie, Todd (1999). AFL legend retires Archived 6 April 2012 at the Wayback MachineKoori Mail. Published 17 November 1999. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  28. ^ a b c d e Yussuf, Ahmed (17 April 2023). "With fresh allegations of racism targeted at Indigenous players, Winmar's protest echoes to a new generation". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  29. ^ Lawson, Mark (2012). Passing the football racial testFinancial Review online. Published 28 May 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  30. ^ That Picture: Nicky Winmar and the History of an Image – Victoria University Institutional Repository. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  31. ^ Klugman, Matthew and Gary Osmond (2009). That picture: —Nicky Winmar and the history of an image – Business Library. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  32. ^ Michael Roberts; Michael Tormey (2008). Great Australian Sporting Moments. The Miegunyah Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-522-85547-0.
  33. ^ Pech, Jono (25 May 2013). "Two decades on, a gesture still inspires", The Standard. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  34. ^ The Game That Made Australia painting Archived 19 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine – Australian Football 150 Years. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  35. ^ Basil Sellers Art Prize: where sport meets art, ABC Radio National. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  36. ^ "Historic Nicky Winmar statue to be unveiled at Optus Stadium". The West Australian. 6 July 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  37. ^ "AFL star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan responds to racist abuse with iconic gesture". BBC News. 31 March 2023. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  38. ^ Shaw, Meaghan (2005). Winmar seeks guernsey that changed AFLThe Age online. Published 10 March 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  39. ^ La Canna, Xavier (2005). ATSIC chair to return jumperThe Age online. Published 10 March 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  40. ^ About the Collection Archived 19 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine – National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  41. ^ Winmar's guernsey fails to sell at auction Archived 11 September 2012 at – Sports News First. Published 15 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  42. ^ Former St Kilda great Nicky Winmar jumper fetches $100,000The Australian online. Published 18 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  43. ^ Twist in Winmar jumper debacle – Footy Goss. Published 11 March 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  44. ^ Bellamy, Louise and Gina McColl (2012). Questions asked whether Winmar jumper for auction is the oneThe Sydney Morning Herald online. Published 20 April 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  45. ^ Indigenous players show their skills Archived 28 February 2011 at the Wayback MachineMandurah Mail online. Published 7 October 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  46. ^ Indigenous talent to contest Nicky Winmar Cup Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine – Department of Sport and Recreation. Published 9 December 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  47. ^ a b St Kilda Football Club Team of the Century Archived 25 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine – West of Moorabbin. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  48. ^ Hall of Fame – St Kilda Football Club. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  49. ^ Clarke, Tim (2009). Fame never stops for Winmar Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine – WAtoday. Published 10 March 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  50. ^ South Fremantle Bulldogs announce Aboriginal team of century Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Yahoo!7 Sport. Published 3 July 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  51. ^ Legends: The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century 1905–2005 Archived 10 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine – AIASTIS. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  52. ^ "'About time': Nicky Winmar finally inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame". The Guardian. 15 June 2022. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  53. ^ Doug Robertson (1999). "Winmar may play the Legs"The Advertiser. Published 23 November 1999. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  54. ^ "AFL great Nicky Winmar stable after heart attack". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  55. ^ Kogoy, Peter (2010). Swans present latest member of the familyThe Australian online. Published 18 March 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  56. ^ Butcher, Steve (2000). "Assault: Winmar Fined;: [National Edition]" - The Age. ProQuest 363467630. Published 6 October 2000. Retrieved 1 June 2021 - via ProQuest.
  57. ^ "AFL great Nicky Winmar admits assaulting taxi driver". The Age. Nine Entertainment. 8 August 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.

Further reading

Klugman, Matthew; Osmond, Gary (2013), Black and proud : the story of an iconic AFL photo, Sydney, NSW NewSouth Publishing, ISBN 978-1-74223-405-2

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Nicky Winmar
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