Among his many titles, Wally Lewis is now also officially a legend.
The rugby league star known as The King and the Emperor of Lang Park for his playing exploits is the 38th member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame to be elevated to legend status.
Lewis, also one of only eight Australian rugby league Immortals, was announced as the latest legend at Thursday night’s annual hall of fame dinner in Melbourne.
The former Australian captain and Queensland State Of Origin hero said the honour was bewildering.
Johnny Raper and Reg Gasnier – also Immortals – are the only other rugby league players to have legend status in the hall of fame.
“I said the same ridiculous thing that you laugh at other people for saying – you’re kidding,” Lewis said of his initial reaction.
“You just don’t regard yourself as being in the same class or category as the people that you admired throughout your sporting days when you were watching them.”
Lewis paid tribute to his father, who taught him to tackle like Raper.
He added career highlights were his first grade debut and his first selection for Queensland.
But the biggest moment was being named Australian captain.
Lewis vividly remembered looking up into the grandstand before the Test against France and seeing his father.
“It was pretty obvious that he was wiping the tears away from his eyes,” Lewis said.
“I said to mum after the game, ‘what was that going on with dad’? Mum said he was crying. Dad said ‘I was not, it was just dusty’.
“That to me was a real indication that all the things I wanted to repay him for, that was a great way to do it as it was obvious what it meant to him that day to have his son running out as Australian captain.”
There were also eight inductees on Thursday night into the hall of fame, bringing the membership to 541.
They are Emma Carney (triathlon), Kristy Ellis (surf lifesaving), Sharelle McMahon (netball), Libby Trickett (swimming), Harry Wells (rugby league), Bob Ellicott QC (sport administration) and Jack Newton (services to golf).