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submitted by George Poulos on 28.11.2004

Charles, Freeleagus. Champion Rower.

Charles, Freeleagus. Champion Rower.
Copyright (0000) Millenium Heritage Committee

As notified in a previous entry, and re-iterated in less detail at the conclusion of this entry - in the year 2000, the Greek -Australian Sports Hall of Fame was inaugurated.

Many athletes of the original 166 are obviously of Kytherian origin - Psaltis's, Samios, Zantiotis, Andronicus: but the place of origin in Greece of many others - particularly those born in Australia - has not been indicated in the biographies outlined in the original list. Determining how many Kytherians were inducted in the original list remains a matter for future research. To further complicate matters, some of the athletes may have had a parent, or grandparent of Kytherian origin. (A good example is Stephen Girdis, inducted for sailing prowess, whose mother is Kytherian.)

From Pinax, The Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame, Volume 1, reproduced with the permission of the editor, Steve Georgakis.

Charles, Freeleagus

Champion Rower

Freeleagus was born in Brisbane on 22 February, 1913, and developed an interest in rowing because he lived near the Brisbane River, where most of the boathouses were found. He joined the University Rowing Club while undertaking a law degree at the University of Queensland. Freeleagus then joined the GPS club, where eventually he held all positions including president, later becoming a life member.

Rowing in singles he was a long time undefeated in Queensland, winning all the State's Championships. For example, he won the Jack Boschell Cup for three consecutive years.

Freeleagus could not aford to take part in the President's Cup (men's annual interstate championships) during the Depression era, although he did take part in the King's Cup (an annual interstate eight-oared championship) on four occasions, (1936 to 1939), winning once in Brisbane. At the time there were no official national titles in the sport, so the Kings Cup tournaments were deemed the national titles. Freeleagus was a member of the Queensland team that won the Kings Cup at Hamilton Beach, witnessed by a crowd of 20,000. It remains Queensland's only win in the event since 1924.

Background, Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame

In September 2000, through the initiative of the Millenium Heritage Council, the Church established the Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame in order to record the sporting achievements attained by Australians of Greek heritage who have distinguished themselves at either a National or International level.

The First Inductees

As a result, 166 sportspeople were inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame, in the presence of the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, and the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. John Howard, during the unforgettable Millenium Ball held on Saturday, 2nd September, 2000, at the Westin Hotel in Sydney.

The evening was a historic milestone that revealed how vast and truly astonishing the contribution to Australian and world sport by citizens of Helllenic descent is, in an amazing variety of disciplines. Sportspeople travelled from all over Australia to attend the memorable event and felt enormous pride and honour at their Induction.

The Commemorative Book

A thouroughly researched book entitled The Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame - Pinax, Volume I, coordinated by the Millenium Heritage Sports Committee and edited by academic, Dr Steve Georgakis, was also launched on the evening with the most fascinating details about each Inductee's accomplishments.

Pinax is the Greek word for list. It was used in ancient times when referring to the record of the Olympic Games victors whose names were inscribed on a column at Olympia in Greece. This informative book was published with the generous assitance of the New South Wales government through the Office of the Premier, the Hon. Bob Carr. Only a small number of books remain, however, since the interest generated by the concept attracted the attention of Hellenes around the world. It was especially appreciated by athletes and officials during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Committee is now looking forward to the second edition.

[Dr Steve Georgakis is also the author of Sport and the Australian Greek. A Historical Study of Ethnicity, Gender and Youth, as well as numerous other articles on the subject].

Note: The photograph above is the original photograph in Pinax.

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