Published by Jai Bednall, 12th November 2018 on news.com.au
JEFF Horn may as well stick a sign up saying ticket sales for his upcoming fight against Anthony Mundine are slow.
Because the attempts to generate interest in the so-called River City Rumble have become desperate.
First was the revival of Mundine’s stance on the national anthem, which worked in getting the proud Aboriginal on the front page of Sydney’s major newspaper in the lead-up to his rematch against Danny Green last year, but felt tired and manufactured this time around.
Then came the ploy by Horn trainer Glenn Rushton to create concern around Mundine — a man who doesn’t even drink, let alone do drugs — using illegal substances to drop weight. Mundine played along and bit back but it didn’t really make any sense.
But strike three — Horn’s attempt to back Mundine in a corner over his views on homosexuality — is not only cheap, but potentially harmful to the people its supposed to be supporting.
If you missed the news in Sunday’s Courier Mail, Horn promoter Dean Lonergan revealed plans to have gay and transgender people join women in carrying round cards at the fight, in what was labelled a world-first.
But it became abundantly clear this wasn’t about uniting Australians in the wake of a contentious same sex marriage vote, it was about backing Mundine into a corner after the Muslim had pledged to keep his views on homosexuality to himself.
“Anthony has said that he’s not into racial or homophobic slurs anymore and my sense is he will be fully supportive of this,” Lonergan said.
“If he doesn’t it will show he is still a bigot and if he does it shows anyone can change.’’
“This is a human rights issue and boxing is a sport that needs to get with the times when it comes to inclusion of the LGBTIQ community. The stereotypical bikini girl carrying the ring cards has to be left behind and we need to embrace diversity, embrace this new bold era of inclusiveness,” Lonergan added.
“We are going to be the first major stadium boxing event in the world to do this and the people of Queensland will be proud.’’
Queensland state government tourism minister Kate Jones opportunistically added her voice to the article saying: “We know that the LGBTIQ community is over represented when it comes to bullying. We know Jeff Horn is an anti-bullying ambassador. Let’s hope this shines a light on inclusion and particularly at a big event like this.”
At best it was a poorly thought through initiative — at worst a disgraceful exploitation of a section of the community they’re claiming to be behind.
Almost 40 per cent of Australia — and even larger percentages in Queensland — voted against same-sex marriage. Who knows how some sections of the crowd will react — and how damaging that reaction could be to the brave souls who dare to carry the cards?
But he ill-advisedly joined the debate by trying to shame Mundine on social media. It’s always dangerous to put too much weight into the reaction in the comments. But it was one-sided to say the least.
It’s hard to be critical of Horn and his promoters, who have done a wonderful job in building the profile of a fighter who is far from a natural in front of the camera.
They’ve barely put a foot wrong while transforming the Queensland battler into one of the biggest money-spinners in Aussie boxing history.
But this is a misstep and one Mundine should feel under no compulsion to give the dignity of a reply.