Anthony Mundine (b. 1975), boxer and former rugby league player, was born in Newtown in Sydney’s inner south and began his career playing league for Hurstville United. From 1993 until his retirement from the game in 2000 Mundine played for the St George Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos, and represented New South Wales in three State of Origin clashes. In July 2000, aged 25 and at that time one of league’s highest-paid players, he began his career anew as a professional boxer, his subsequent tally of victories including the 2007 World Boxing Association super-middleweight and the 2009 International Boxing Organisation middleweight world titles. Mundine was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person of the Year in 2000, and in 2003, 2006 and 2007 was awarded Male Sportsperson of the Year at the National Indigenous Music, Sport, Entertainment & Community Awards (the ‘Deadlys’). In addition to his career in sport, Mundine has made forays into the music industry, and in 2000 he started the boxing equipment and sportswear company, Boxa.
Brook Andrew (b. 1970) studied art at the University of Western Sydney and the University of New South Wales and since the early 1990s his work, which encompasses printmaking, photography, sculpture, installation and performance, has been represented in many exhibitions here and overseas. In this work, Andrew toys with the visual language of celebrity and pop culture to underline Anthony Mundine’s status as a hero and role model: a strong, successful athlete and a vocal, confident spokesperson on issues such as racism in sport. In her catalogue essay to the 2005 exhibition Hope and Peace, which featured this work, Marcia Langton refers to Mundine’s Muslim faith, observing that ‘the rigours of his religious conviction, such as total refrain from alcohol and other harmful substances, are qualities that are just some of the parts that go to make this man a hero among Aboriginal people'. In this context, the graphic use of the words ‘Hope’ and ‘Peace’ – names also applied to brands of Japanese cigarettes – demonstrate the artist’s reconfiguring of advertising imagery to challenge racial stereotypes and consumer messages. The work is also a comment on broader political issues, making an observation on the way that global debates around conflict, peace, hope and faith are mirrored in local issues such as reconciliation. The Wiradjuri language words either side of the figure mean ‘I SEE YOU’ and ‘YOU SEE ME’, while the black and white patterns in the background are based on traditional designs and reference the artist’s Wiradjuri heritage.