THE tributes came from almost 20 speakers and in as many forms, but they had a common theme.
Former Lismore boxer Frank Roberts was much loved, well regarded and highly respected.
The State funeral for Francis (Frank) Roy Roberts at Armidale yesterday produced an outpouring of emotion.
While Roberts was a champion boxer and Australia’s first Indigenous Olympian, it was his subsequent life as a husband, father, mentor and friend that was the focus of most tributes:
“A deeply committed family man.”
“A compassionate man with a big heart.”
“A great Australian.”
“A special bloke.”
More than 400 people packed into the Armidale Town Hall while hundreds of others sat or stood outside in the street, where amplifiers relayed the tributes being offered inside.
The stage area had a backdrop of the Aboriginal flag and a large projected image of Roberts, while family photographs were arrayed along the front.
The casket was draped in the Australian and Olympic flags and the boxing belt awarded to Roberts for his achievements in the sport.
The boxing gloves and boots he wore at the Tokyo Olympics were also placed on the casket – coloured green, the same as his motorcycle.
Roberts’ daughter, Dorothy, delivered the eulogy, speaking of “a wonderful dad” who had passed on “the three Ls – look, listen and learn” as taught by the elders.
Athol McQueen, of Kyogle, a fellow boxer at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, described Roberts as “a great man, a great friend and a great sportsman”.
Other speakers included Tony Hoskin, Paul Grant, Cliff Rowe, Mark Lowe and David Lush, all of whom had been associates of Roberts as a boxing trainer.
Roberts was buried in a private ceremony at the Armidale Cemetery.
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