Boxing

Evander Holyfield Warned over Homophobic Remarks on Celebrity Big Brother

Dec 22, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield sits court side during the first half of the game between the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

Evander Holyfield has been scolded for saying homosexuality can be "fixed" on the UK edition of Celebrity Big Brother.

The former undisputed heavyweight world champion boxer also claimed being gay is a disability during a conversation with The Apprentice runner-up Luisa Zissman, as Martin Domin of the Daily Mail reported:

She said: "I think it’s really bad that no-one stands up and says it in the sporting industries. I think it’s good to be open about that because it’s normal."

But Holyfield replied: "What would be good about it? That ain't normal. ... It is a choice, come on, that ain't the way nobody is made.

"If you were born and your leg were turned this way, what do you do, you go to the doctor and get it fixed back right."

Holyfield was called to the diary room and given a warning after Big Brother—the authority on the show—suggested his view will be "extremely offensive to many people." The 51-year-old was reminded of the show's code of conduct but contested he "was just telling her my opinion."

This is not the first time a Celebrity Big Brother contestant has provoked an angry response by making a controversial statement.

Former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson received major criticism during the August 2013 series for a similar incident. The 74-year-old's alleged racist remarks, according to John Drayton of the Daily Mail, caused public outcry over a show that often creates headlines by putting notoriously contentious celebrities together.

LAS VEGAS - APRIL 10:  Evander Holyfield (L) hits Francois Botha in the first round of their heavyweight bout at the Thomas & Mack Center April 10, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holyfield won by TKO in the eighth round.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Many viewers expressing their opinion on Twitter reacted angrily to Holyfield's assertion and have called for the boxing legend to be kicked off the show.

Leading the charge is Daily Mirror columnist Ian Hyland, who believes Channel 5 doesn't have the guts to remove arguably the show's most well-known name from the lineup:

Rob Leigh of the same publication presumes Holyfield could be expelled from the house in the coming days. Big Brother's verbal warning is likely to be his only punishment—unless the American star repeats his offense or continues to advocate unpopular views.

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