St Kilda great Nicky Winmar and photographer Wayne Ludbey are reportedly set to take Sam Newman, Don Scott and Mike Sheahan to court after the trio claimed the indigenous star’s iconic act in 1993 at Victoria Park was not due to being racially vilified.
ESPN is reporting that Winmar and Ludbey have engaged the services of the high powered law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, with a long history of dealing in reconciliation, meeting this week to defend the truth of their account of events at Victoria Park on April 17, 1993.
Following a win against Collingwood, Winmar looked to the stands and lifted his shirt, pointing to his skin to signify his pride as an indigenous man, with the photo taken by Ludbey becoming one of the AFL’s most iconic images.
However, speaking on their You Cannot Be Serious podcast, Newman, Scott and Sheahan cast doubts over the fact that Winmar’s gesture was about race, saying he was referring to his team’s courageous performance in a hostile environment.
“Maybe Nicky’s dining out on it now about lifting his jumper because I reported on that game at Collingwood,” Scott said.
“St Kilda played Collingwood and my recollection was that St Kilda won and Nicky lifted his jumper saying, ‘That was a gutsy effort. We have got heart’. Now it’s been misconstrued.”
“I was at Victoria Park that day, and I reckon I left the ground thinking he was talking about guts,” Sheahan added.
Newman agreed with the duo, saying that Winmar’s act had been “morphed into all that by other activists”.
However, despite the trio’s explosive claims, Ludbey maintained that Winmar’s message was: “I’m black and I’m proud to be black”.
“Never at any stage in the last 27 years have I veered off my original story,” he told ESPN.
“I was assigned to do that game, and not only did I photograph it but in front of me was an indigenous man responding to racism.
“I didn’t hear any specific racism directed at him, but he was responding to it and lifted his jumper, pointed at his skin and said ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black’.
“I was just doing my job, and it’s not about me. It’s about a man, a moment and a comment, and his friend Gilbert McAdam.
“What Mike, Sam and Don don’t realise is that I had a 400mm lens on initially, and then I put on a wide-angle lens, I only had one camera, and then I ran after Nicky, and he ran to Gilbert.
“Nicky was in front of the social club area there and then he ran into the centre of the ground where Gilbert was, I was not far behind.
“They embraced and brought their heads together, and Nicky was repeatedly saying in that euphoric moment of celebration, ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black, I’m black and proud to be black, I’m black and proud to be black’, to Gilbert as they embraced.
“So I don’t know if I can be any more specific about what happened.
“This is a strategic thing on the behalf of them to make money by kicking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, because they believe they can’t fight back.
“There’s no grey area in this – they knew what they were doing.”
Winmar’s iconic 1993 gesture has since been immortalised, with a statue of his point erected in front of Optus Stadium in 2019.