AFL star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan responds to racist abuse with iconic gesture

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan lifting his shirt and pointing to his skin
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

An Aboriginal Australian Football League (AFL) player has performed a powerful protest against racism, recreating an iconic sporting moment after abuse from spectators.

After kicking a goal on Thursday night, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan lifted his shirt and pointed to his skin.

It is a gesture made famous by AFL legend Nicky Winmar under similar circumstances 30 years ago.

The abuse of Ugle-Hagan, 20, comes amid a string of racism scandals in the AFL.

On Sunday, Australian Rules football’s top league said it was investigating allegations that “harmful and abhorrent racist remarks” were directed at the Western Bulldogs star by a rival St Kilda fan last weekend.

Both clubs condemned the alleged comments and vowed to work with the AFL to identify those involved.

But Ugle-Hagan on Thursday night said he felt the need to “make a stand” himself. Remarkably, he also kicked five goals in what many hailed his career-best game. “Obviously what happened last weekend was a pretty hard time,” he told Channel Seven after helping his team to a win.

“[I was] just going out there and proving the point – I’m just a boy trying to play some football, so are the other Indigenous boys,” he added, becoming visibly emotional.

Winmar had also been receiving racist abuse in 1993 when he performed the gesture and shouted: “I’m black and I’m proud to be black.”

Nicky Winmar with a statue depicting his 1993 stand against racism, in 2019
Nicky Winmar with a statue depicting his 1993 stand against racism, in 2019

On Friday he said he was “proud of Jamarra for standing up for himself”.

“It’s up to the new generations to reinforce the stance I made,” he said in a statement. “Things are getting better… [but] there’s still a few who can’t control their negative attitudes, all we can do is keep supporting each other, and keep calling it out.”

Winmar’s gesture has also been replicated in other sports, including by Aboriginal player Josh Addo-Carr in Australia’s National Rugby League.

Several star players from multiple AFL teams have complained of racist abuse from stadium crowds and poor support from club officials in recent years.


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