Anthony Joshua was the subject of a petition to remove the British fighter from any forthcoming list for the UK Sports Personality of the Year.
On the back on criticism labeled at Joshua for reading out a statement which many claimed called for a ‘boycott of white stores’, a racism storm has brewed online.
Joshua has faced a barracking from some quarters, culminating in the start of a petition to make sure the heavyweight champion is not considered for the BBC’s annual award in 2020.
The petition – REMOVE ANTHONY JOSHUA FROM SPORTS PERSONALITY 2020 LIST – Sign the Petition! – was created at change.org.
Within hours, it had received tens of thousands of signatures from disgruntled fans.
This led to UK boxer Ashley Theophane sharing another petition to ‘get rid’ of the original BBC SPOTY petition.
At the time of writing, the Theophane shared petition had just over 1800 signatures.
— Ashley Theophane (@AshleyTheophane) June 10, 2020
But it didn’t take long for change.org to act. The petition to remove AJ from SPOTY was subsequently taken down.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has since defended Joshua’s actions at the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Watford.
“He read someone’s speech out, which he may have phrased differently if he had read it himself,” Hearn told Sky Sports News.
“People want to interpret the words of that in many different ways. I’ve seen some strange thoughts of what that was supposed to mean.
“It wasn’t his words. But he did speak some of his own words as well, which was about uplifting his community, investing in his community, which is Watford.
“He’s got a seven-figure investment that he’s putting into his own town soon to give people more opportunities.
“And he spoke about gang culture being dead. He spoke about making sure that all gatherings and protests were peaceful ones. There were so many positives that came out of what he said.”
He continued: “I’ve known Anthony Joshua for eight years. I know him inside out. It hurts when some of the accusations have been flying his way.
“So many businesses as well to start realizing that we have to make a change. Because racism is something that runs deep throughout this country.
“It’s here now and it’s historical, and it has to change. I think a conversation is good.
“I’m very proud of Anthony of his mindset of speaking up and trying to promote what he has always tried to promote.
“It is to uplift people, to motivate people, to do better, to be better, and to be better people,” he added.