Saints legend Winmar hails Ugle-Hagan’s courage


A statue of Nicky Winmar. Photo: Michael Coghlan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

After kicking his first goal of the game against Brisbane, the Western Bulldog’s Jamarra Ugle-Hagan raised his shirt and pointed to his skin.

The crowd at Marvel Stadium goes wild.

Ugle-Hagan – who’d been racially abused during and after his side’s round-two loss to St Kilda – was channeling Nicky Winmar’s response to the abuse the Saints legend faced from Collingwood fans.

Equalling his career best of five goals, the twenty year old went on to lead the Bulldogs to a 14 point win over the Lions.

It is Friday, 28 March, 2023 – nearly thirty years to the day after Winmar’s iconic stand.

“We’re calling them out and we’re sorting it out, and everyone’s getting behind our back nowadays,” said Ugle-Hagan in an emotional interview after the match.

“I did want to make a stance. I wanted to show my presence…I’m just a boy trying to play some football.”

It echoed the moment in April 1993 when – after the final sirens roared – Winmar celebrated the Saints win directly in front of the Collingwood fans who’d racially vilified him, lifting his top, pointing to his skin and creating an image ingrained into Australian sporting history forever.

“I’m black and I’m proud to be black,” Winmar said to the crowd at the time.

Today, he explained that “I’m still here, still involved with the issue, but it’s been 30 years now – it’s like a big relay race, time to pass on the baton.”

“I’m proud of Jamarra for standing up for himself – it’s up to the new generations to reinforce the stance I made back in 1993.”

Research in 2020 by Monash University shows that 49.70 per cent of Aboriginal individuals experience at least one form of major discrimination in 2020.

Although Winmar’s stand took place in 1993, racism continues to be an ongoing issue in sport and the community.

The players just want to play football but are always framed by political views and opinions from the community.

The image of Winmar, standing up to his abusers, symbolises the need to combat the ongoing presence of racism in Australian sporting culture.

It’s been immortalised in a statute outside Perth Stadium of the indigenous football legend, completed in 2019.

As the club of Nicky Winmar and the club whose supporters allegedly abused Ugle-Hagan, St Kilda expressed its frustrations.

“To be repeatedly addressing these repugnant instances of racism is a blight on our game and society,” the club stated.

“We will continue to stamp out and call out this unacceptable behaviour by having these important conversations, as well as making ongoing education available for the wider community.”