Michael AhMatt was a pioneer for his people and his sport. Born in Townsville in 1942, he grew up in Darwin and was selected to represent the Northern Territory at the 1959 Australian Championships. At that tournament he was invited to move to South Australia and join the South Adelaide Panthers. Eventually he would play a then record 588 games over twenty seasons for his club in his adopted state.
In 1964, Michael became one of the first two Indigenous Australians to represent their country at an Olympic Games as part of a Boomers squad that would finish in 9th position. He was also a member of the 1968 Boomers squad that participated in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Monterrey prior to the Mexico Olympic Games. Michael was a tremendous basketball player with freakish and uncanny dribbling and passing skills. He was also renowned for his spinning backboard shots which seemed to come out of nowhere. An enthusiastic supporter of the National Aboriginal Sports Foundation, Michael’s skills and flair for the game would inspire future champions such as Danny Morseu and indirectly Patrick Mills and Nathan Jawai. Tragically Michael Ahmatt died of a heart attack in 1984.
Already a member of the Aboriginal and Islander Sports Hall of Fame, it is fitting that Michael AhMatt will now sit alongside the other champions enshrined within the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.