Rhonda Purcell

My family are the Quandamooka (North Stradbroke and Moreton Islands) and Koa people of Winton. I also acknowledge the Wakka Wakka people of Cherbourg as our grandparents raised our family there.

Our family didn’t have much growing up in Brisbane in the 1970s, where my childhood was spent, but we did have each other and looking back, I guess that was more than enough.

In the 1980s thinking “what have I got to lose” when I was a wild teenager, I went along to the community modelling audition that was held for modelling and confidence building for the NAIDOC Fashion Parades and photographic work. My brother and I were part of the first Aboriginal modelling group named Galinyah and they became my family for life.

Sadly, 2 years later my Mum passed away which devastated my world, but I am who I am today because my mum is my inspiration and she will always be in my heart.

In 2011, my life’s journey needed a change, so I took it upon myself to do something constructive and out-of-the-ordinary so I joined a boxing gym!

This led to Natural Body Building Competitions and, at the ripe old age of 42, I have represented Australia and my people at an elite level in 2013 and 2014, and winning Gold and Silver Medals at Natural Olympia in USA.

Representing Australia, I became the first Aboriginal Professional Natural Bodybuilder at the Olympia USA Competition in 2016 and was crowned Miss Olympia twice at an international competition.

I currently work as a Deadly Choices Ambassador with The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, where I encourage, inspire and motivate people to make better healthy lifestyle choices. It’s an honour and privilege to share my story with kids, students, teachers, community members and the wider public when I’m able to, knowing that in my own small way I am making a difference to my people’s lives.

Rhonda Purcell
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