Lovemore overcame racism and police violence to become a champion boxer, now the courtroom is his ring


Lovemore Ndou was 16 when a cashier flirted with him at the supermarket.

It might seem innocuous, but a white woman flirting with a black man in South Africa during apartheid was anything but.

When authorities weren’t able to pin a sexual assault on him, they instead accused him of theft before taking him to a cell where they broke his arm and let a dog — trained to “kill black people on sight” — almost tear out his eye.

It’s left a scar he still bears next to his eye socket — a reminder of the three-time world welterweight champion’s childhood in a country where race defined lives.

“It made me realise a black man’s life in South Africa was worthless at the time,” Mr Ndou said.

“My own life was nothing in my country. I decided in the hospital bed I’d be a lawyer one day.”

Mr Ndou, 49, practices family and criminal law from an office at Rockdale, in Sydney’s south.

On the day of his graduation from the University of New South Wales.(Supplied)

In his new book, Tough Love, he reveals he did not receive a formal education until he was nine years old and when he first went to TAFE in Sydney he had to ask his stepdaughter to teach him how to use a computer.

Since coming to Australia in 1996, he’s earned six degrees across law, human rights and political science.

But Mr Ndou has always been a self-styled “poster boy for the underdog” in and out of the ring.

He grew up in a town called Musina, a border town between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

A man with dark skin and a beard sits on a lounge chair.
Mr Ndou in his office where his university qualifications are proudly displayed.(ABC News: Mridula Amin)

With apartheid’s dehumanisation on one side and a civil war raging on the other, he witnessed humanity at its darkest.

Aged eight, he witnessed rapes and murders in his community at the hand of guerilla fighters loyal to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.

Five years later, his best friend died in his arms after being shot by a white police officer during an apartheid protest.

A rage brewed inside Mr Ndou — and while he was a keen sportsman, his fiery temper saw him thrown out of most matches.

a shirtless black man in a boxing pose
A 24-year-old Mr Ndou in February 1996 at Brendon Smith’s gym in Charlton, Toowoomba.(Supplied)

One day, a security guard escorting him off a football field after yet another outburst suggested he try boxing.

This man, Divas Chirwa, would become his trainer and help launch his career into the World Boxing Council (WBC) ranks.

“I was wrong that you needed to be angry to fight, boxing is scientific,” he said.

“It’s like playing a game of chess you need to be thinking, and it’s only when you’re calm that you think straight.

“That lesson changed me as a boxer, it changed me as a person.”

A man sat at a desk
Mr Ndou in his office in Rockdale.(ABC News: Mridula Amin)

But no matter how formidable he was in the ring, he couldn’t escape the racial discrimination.

Although South Africa lifted a ban on interracial fights in 1973, the bouts were rarely evenly judged.

Mr Ndou had to take it to the extreme to secure a win — many of his opponents would leave the ring with a broken nose if they weren’t knocked out.

It was a dirty play and Mr Ndou knew if he stayed, his career would become compromised.

“I’d done my research and knew this country had a keep Australia white policy so I didn’t expect the treatment to be different,” he said.

“But when I arrived, they treated me like a human being.

“I got a shock when I saw a white person cleaning my toilet in the hotel.”

A man dressed in a suit boxing
Mr Ndou couldn’t escape racial discrimination even as a boxer.(ABC News: Mridula Amin)

Because of his experience, Mr Ndou doesn’t believe Australia is a racist country even if he believed there was racial injustice.

“We can’t judge the whole country on those incidents, perhaps I think that way because I come from somewhere where racism was legislated,” he said.

However, he says the black lives matter movement holds reckoning for the nation.

“‘When we say black lives matter, we’re not saying other lives don’t matter but in the context of people dying in custody, it’s black people,” he said.

“We need focus.”

a man holding up several cummerbunds and belts and smiling
After his last boxing bout on the Gold Coast in 2012.(Supplied)

Mr Ndou’s most memorable win came in 2010, when he won his second world title in South Africa.

“To go back to that country that I had to leave years ago because I wasn’t given the opportunities that I needed as a fighter, to fight in front of my people and win the world title, it was amazing,” he said.

When the judges declared he had won by unanimous decision, he dedicated the victory to Nelson Mandela.

Mr Ndou is about to earn his seventh degree in law, communication and politics, and devotes part of his week to doing pro bono work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

A man with boxing gloves on.
Mr Ndou trains at a gym in Liverpool.(ABC News: Mridula Amin)

He doesn’t trade blows as much as he used to but is considering entering a different kind of fray.

“I’ve been vocal about entering politics and taking on corruption will be my next step,” he said.

He doesn’t expect to keep the gloves on if he makes it into the political arena.

“I’m a tough person, I’ll push through,” he said.

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AUS vs IND, 3rd Test: Kumar Sangakkara Asks For “Stern Action” After Racism Rown In Sydney





Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) president and former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara on Monday strongly condemned the racial slurs faced by India pacers Mohammad Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah during the Pink Test and demanded stern action against the offenders. The Indian team on Saturday had lodged an official complaint after the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground racially abused pacers Bumrah and Siraj over the second and third day of the Sydney Test. Siraj had to face the brunt of unruly crowds even on the fourth day.

Sangakkara said those responsible for the act should be strongly punished. The former wicket-keeper batsman also said he was very fortunate that he never faced any kind of racial abuse while playing against any team in any country during his career.

“I did read about what happened with the crowd and the Indian team in the last couple of days. Racism in any country in any manner has to be decried and has to be condemned and those responsible should be strongly punished and stern action should be taken against them,” said Sangakkara while replying to a query from ANI.

“During my time I was fortunate that I never came across any kind of racial abuse. I can’t speak on behalf of other Sri Lankan cricketers but I personally have not been victimised in terms of racial slurs and racial abuse and that’s true for every country I have toured,” he added.

Last year in June, Sangakkara, who will seen mentoring Team Abu Dhabi in the upcoming T10 league, had voiced his support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The former Sri Lankan skipper had said activism happening in the USA against systemic racism is a lesson for everyone worldwide and added that a state cannot determine the sensibilities of any citizen.

In a series of tweets, Sangakkara had said that the state can never determine the wisdom and compassion of any citizen and he also said that the citizens should choose their representatives more carefully.

“The activism in America against systemic racism and injustice is a powerful lesson to us all. Whichever country we live in, be it America, Sri Lanka, or another, it is not the State that should determine our sensibilities and sensitivities. That’s your choice and mine,” Sangakkara tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Sydney crowd did not stop on day four of the ongoing Pink Test as Siraj along with skipper Ajinkya Rahane had a word with umpire Paul Reiffel regarding the unruly behaviour of the crowd on Sunday.

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Visuals on television indicated that there were some words spoken for Siraj who was fielding near the boundary rope. Both the umpires then had a word with each other and the police then asked a group of men to leave the stand.

The third Test of the four-match series between India and Australia ended as a draw on Monday. Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari batted out 258 balls to help India walk away with a draw and head into the final Test at the Gabba, with the series level at 1-1.

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Gutsy India Defy Australia In Thrilling Test Match Marred By Allegations Of Racism


For whatever reason – home dominance, flat pitches, overwhelmed touring teams – there unfortunately haven’t been many thrilling Test matches in Australia over decades.

Heading into the final day of the third Test between Australia and India was actually the first time a Test had gone the distance Down Under in two years. There has been a slew of lopsided matches in that period.

Not that beforehand was much better with the 12 previous Tests (2016-19) going the full five days mostly being prolonged because of excruciatingly flat pitches, which overwhelmingly favored batting.

There have only been a handful of truly memorable Tests in the past two decades. Add this Sydney Test match to the shortlist. A battered and bruised India – both physically and mentally – defied Australia’s brilliant attack to bat their longest in the fourth innings of a Test since 1979.

No Test match in Australia had gone down to the wire since Faf du Plessis famously stonewalled Australia’s attack in 2012 to conjure one of South Africa’s greatest innings. In one of the most extraordinary rear-guard partnerships, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin similarly defied the odds in a gutsy partnership to bat through the entirety of the final session to secure a draw.

India batted an astounding 131 overs all up to finish at 334 for 5 chasing a mammoth 407.

India had long given up hope of winning the Test but defiantly holding off Australia was remarkable. The stodgy defense contrasted with the opening session which will be fondly remembered for dynamo Rishabh Pant’s audacious pyrotechnics show.

The diminutive wicketkeeper is mainly picked because of his batting expertise and Pant’s selection has stirred controversy, particularly with traditionalists adamant that the best gloveman should be an automatic inclusion.

Pant had been criticized for his sloppy ‘keeping and fairly rash batting. But promoted to No.5 and still showing the effects of an elbow injury, Pant played a blinder of an innings that turned the Test on its head. He proved that he’s worthy in the team as a specialist batsman.

Before the fireworks, Pant played against type and blunted the attack after the key early wicket of captain Ajinkya Rahane. The left-hander resisted Australia’s star-studded bowlers maturely, knowing he had to support mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara.

A big partnership between the two contrasting batsmen realistically loomed as India’s only hope of an unlikely victory.  

The youthful Pant was undaunted and he counterattacked in fashion uncommon – but nonetheless breathtaking – on a fifth day pitch, which surprisingly was benign. After having a prolonged sighter, Pant’s innate attacking instincts took over as he started to dominate in fashion reminiscent of Brian Lara’s famous SCG gem. In fact, he seemed to shift into Twenty20 mode by smashing veteran spinner Nathan Lyon out of the attack.

At one point during a whirlwind first session, Pant cracked two straight effortless sixes off Lyon to provide a flicker for India’s faint hopes. The partnership built swiftly past 100 and the duo made it to lunch to setup a pivotal second session.

Pant continued on his merry way and treated the Australian bowling with disdain even though he survived several nervy moments. On the cusp of a brilliant century, Pant’s cavalier approach proved his undoing on 97 as he unwisely attempted to whack Lyon for another boundary with the milestone flashing in his sights.

His dismissal was at a particularly inopportune moment with the second new ball just around the corner. Pant had the ability to power through the new ball and score runs quickly. If he – and Pujara – were still at the crease with under 100 runs to get then it would have been a very nervous Australia in the field.

Pujara fell later in the session to a pearler of a delivery from Josh Hazlewood and that appeared to be the game. Then something incredible happened that makes you fall back in love with this baffling sport. Vihari and Ashwin started seeing out overs even through ferocious short-pitched bowling where they copped vicious deliveries on the body. They also somehow thwarted Lyon’s menacing spin.

The overs started dwindling. Suddenly it was under 20 remaining. Then it was into the final nerve-jangling hour. The slow burn and excruciating tension makes Test cricket so irresistible in these moments. It doesn’t happen often – too infrequently in Australia, certainly – but when it does there is no more gripping sports spectacle.  

India’s fight and pride were once again on display. Already missing captain and best batsman Virat Kohli, a wounded India lost star allrounder Ravindra Jadeja to injury. In a further blow, out-of-form Vihari injured his hamstring running between the wickets in the second session and noticeably struggled to move properly at the crease.

India fought gamely to the end and again proved their competitiveness in the difficult terrain of Australia, which has sunk most touring teams over the years. Bar their calamity in 2011-12 through a wheezing, over the hill team, India have been superb tourists Down Under for almost two decades.

It all makes allegations of racist abuse directed at the Indian team from sections of the crowd on day 3 and 4 so disappointing.  Six people were ejected and play halted for nearly 10 minutes on day 4 after India’s young quick Mohammed Siraj, who had been fielding near the boundary and close to rowdy spectators, made a complaint. It is highly unusual for play to stop for that long during a cricket match. Something major was awry.

The International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia and local police are investigating the incidents.  

There were reports in the Australian press that the alleged abuse on Day 4 wasn’t racist but Indian media citing sources within the Indian governing body say Siraj and Bumrah were subjected to abhorrent slurs.  

Whatever the case, the Indian camp are aggrieved and it is a crying shame after the magnificent cricket they’ve produced in these grim pandemic times. Fans should be especially grateful, particularly to the brilliant Bumrah whose eclectic skills are a treasure and, so too, the youthful exuberance of Siraj who missed the funeral of his father while on this tour.

This Indian team deserve far better. But perhaps justice was served on-field. For the second consecutive Test, India produced an all-time performance. This is a gritty and great team.

They deserve everyone’s total respect.

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Cricket news: Australia vs India racism furore, what was said to Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah by Sydney SCG crowd at Fourth Test


Cricket chiefs and NSW police have launched investigations into allegations of racist abuse of the India team from sections of the crowd in the third Test, after six people were ejected and play halted for nearly 10 minutes on Sunday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) probe followed Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah allegedly being targeted while they fielded by the boundary ropes of the Sydney Cricket Ground late Saturday.

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In a second incident, play was halted just before the tea break on Sunday when Siraj ran from the fine leg boundary towards the umpires, pointing into the crowd.

It was not immediately clear what was said as six men were removed from their seats by police.

One witness told the Sydney Morning Herald he only heard someone say “Welcome to Sydney, Siraj” but overnight reports from India paint a far different picture.

“Siraj was referred to as ‘Brown Dog’ and ’Big Monkey’ both of which are racist slurs. The matter was immediately brought to the notice of on-field umpires. They were constantly abusing Bumrah too,” a BCCI source told the Press Trust of India.

The Times of India newspaper said that the fans on Saturday had been drunk. “Bumrah and Siraj were called monkeys, w**ker and motherf**ker by the people almost throughout the time they were fielding,” it claimed.

Vision showing the crowd chanting at Siraj as he stood near the boundary has emerged but it’s unclear exactly what was said.

The dominant sound is several people chanting “Siraj” but others have alleged you can hear racial abuse faintly in the background.

Some believe the words “brown dog Siraj” are said by a male voice at the nine second mark of this clip but it could just as easily be something else and is hardly definitive proof.

Cricket Australia (CA) said a number of spectators had been interviewed by police before they were thrown out.

“While we await the outcome of the investigation by NSW Police, CA has launched its own inquiry into the matter,” said CA’s head of integrity and security Sean Carroll, calling the episode “regrettable”.

KOHLI, ASHWIN REACT TO ‘PATHETIC, NASTY’ BEHAVIOUR

India captain Virat Kohli, who is missing the last three Tests of the four-match series for the birth of his first child, tweeted that such racist behaviour was “pathetic”.

“Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary Iines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour,” Kohli tweeted. “It’s sad to see this happen on the field.

“The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once.”

Speaking to reporters after day four, India spinner Ravi Ashwin claimed he has been subjected to abuse from Australian crowds for almost a decade.

“This is my fourth tour to Australia, and … we’ve had a few experiences in the past,” Ashwin said on Sunday evening.

“If I take myself back to my first tour in 2011/12, I had no clue about what racial abuse is and how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people.

“And people actually laugh at you when you get abused, and other people laugh along when these things are happening.

“When I stood at the boundary line, you wanted to stand another 10 yards in to keep yourself away from these things.”

LANGER: ‘ONE OF MY GREATEST PET HATES’

Australian coach Justin Langer said such antics had no place in sport. “It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing,” he said.

“Anybody who knows me, knows I’ve said for years one of my greatest pet hates in life is that people think they can come to a sporting event, pay their money and think they can abuse or say whatever they like.

“I’ve hated it as a player, I hate it as a coach. We’ve seen it in different parts of the world and I’m really sad to see it happen in Australia.”

The ICC in a statement “strongly condemned” the reported abuse. “There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable,” wrote ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney.

“We will provide Cricket Australia and the relevant authorities with our full support in any ensuing investigation as we will not tolerate any racism in our sport,” he added.

Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), tweeted that “racism has no place in our great sport or in any walk of society”.

“BCCI and Cricket Australia stand together. These acts of discrimination will not be tolerated,” he added.

Cricket Australia earlier issued an apology to India and said anyone found guilty of abuse would face consequences, including bans, other sanctions and referral to police.

“Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour,” said Carroll.

“If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. “CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday,” he added.

“As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent.”

– with AFP



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Racism in ballet: Black dancer’s ‘humiliation’ at racist comments


Chloé Lopes Gomes says she has faced racial harassment while being a ballet dancer.

The French performer is the first black female dancer at Berlin’s principal ballet company Staatsballett.

Ms Gomes claims she was told she did not fit in because of her skin colour, and was asked to wear white make-up so she would “blend in” with the other dancers.

The company has responded by saying her allegation “deeply moves us” and an internal investigation is under way into racism and discrimination at Staatsballett.

Video by: Ameer Ahmed



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Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani defended by Uruguay Spanish language institute over Premier League racism ban


The Uruguayan Academy of Letters has denounced a three-game ban given to Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani, calling the sanction for alleged racism an example of English football’s lack of “cultural and linguistic knowledge”.

The 33-year-old Uruguayan used the word “negrito” (Spanish for ‘little black person’) when replying to an Instagram comment after the club’s victory over Southampton on November 29, before taking it down and apologising.

He said it was intended as an expression of affection to a friend.

The FA said the comment was “improper and brought the game into disrepute”, fined Cavani 100,000 pounds ($177,133) and ordered him to complete “face-to-face education” as part of his punishment.

The FA said the social media post breached its guidelines as it “included a reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin”.

The academy, an association dedicated to protecting and promoting the Spanish language used in Uruguay, said it “energetically rejected the sanction”.

“The English Football Association has committed a serious injustice with the Uruguayan sportsman … and has shown its ignorance and error in ruling on the use of language, and in particular Spanish, without noting all its complexities and contexts,” the academy said in a statement.

“In the context that it was written, the only value that can be given to negrito, and particularly because of the diminutive use, is affectionately.”

The academy “energetically rejected” the sanction against the Uruguayan international.(AP: Matilde Campodonico/Pool)

Words referring to skin colour, weight and other physical characteristics are often used among friends and relations in Latin America, especially in the diminutive, the academy said.

In that context they are expressions of tenderness and are often used independently of the subject’s appearance.

It is not the first time that English football has grappled with the use of the term by a Spanish-speaking footballer.

Former Liverpool striker Luis Suárez, a Uruguay teammate of Cavani, was banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 pounds in 2011 for racially abusing Manchester United’s French defender Patrice Evra during confrontation during a match.

United said Cavani chose not to contest the charge out of respect for the FA and the “fight against racism in football”.

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In a statement, the club said Cavani was not aware that his words could have been misconstrued, and asked that the fine be invested in an anti-racism initiative.

“My heart is at peace because I know that I always expressed myself with affection according to my culture and way of life,” Cavani wrote on Instagram.

The Uruguayan said he had not intended to offend anyone.

“I want to share with you that I accept the disciplinary sanction knowing that I am foreign to English language customs, but I do not share the point of view,” he wrote in the statement.

“I apologise if I offended someone with an expression of affection towards a friend, nothing further in my intention.”

English anti-racism organisation Kick It Out called for more education for overseas players arriving in the United Kingdom.

“We believe it would be helpful for overseas players coming to play in England, to have consistent education on language or behaviour that may be unacceptable in this country,” it said in a tweet.

“That would help prevent situations, like this with Cavani and others, from reoccurring in the future.”

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AFL news 2020: Heritier Lumumba, Eddie McGuire, Collingwood Football Club, racism


Former Magpies defender Heritier Lumumba has accused Collingwood Football Club of attempting to “bury” the findings of their internal review on racial discrimination.

In June, the Magpies announced they would launch an investigation into Lumumba’s allegations of a “culture of racist jokes” during his 10-year stint at the club.

Four months later, Lumumba lodged a Supreme Court claim against Collingwood and the AFL for “failing to protect him from racism”.

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In documents filed to the Supreme Court in October, the 2010 premiership player alleged the Pies failed in their “duty of care” to provide a safe working environment.





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Heritier Lumumba, Eddie McGuire, Collingwood Football Club, racism


Former Magpies defender Heritier Lumumba has accused Collingwood Football Club of attempting to “bury” the findings of their internal review on racial discrimination.

In June, the Magpies announced they would launch an investigation into Lumumba’s allegations of a “culture of racist jokes” during his 10-year stint at the club.

Four months later, Lumumba lodged a Supreme Court claim against Collingwood and the AFL for “failing to protect him from racism”.

In documents filed to the Supreme Court in October, the 2010 premiership player alleged the Pies failed in their “duty of care” to provide a safe working environment.

Last week, Eddie McGuire dropped the bombshell announcement he would step down as Collingwood President at the end of 2021. He has held the position since 1998.

While announcing his resignation, McGuire said he would continue to promote equality initiatives and “the fight against racism”.

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However, Lumumba believes McGuire’s departure was associated with the internal review’s findings, and accused the football club of attempting to “hide” the report.

The 34-year-old also claimed Collingwood has “ignored” requests to provide him with a copy of the report.

“Six months after announcing an internal review on racism and racial discrimination, a report was finally delivered to Collingwood FC’s board. Eddie McGuire announced he would be stepping down just 72 hours later,” Lumumba tweeted on Wednesday evening.

“As usual, CFC have tried to spin this to avoid associating Eddie’s departure with the findings of the review, by making no mention of it publicly. No doubt their intention is to bury the report in ‘new initiatives’ around ‘equality’ as mentioned by McGuire in his speech.

“CFC is yet to provide me with the report — they ignored a request for it. If they truly believe in transparency, CFC should make the report public. Instead, they’re doing their best to hide it behind McGuire’s ‘lap of honour’ exit from the club’s presidency.

“CFC’s damage control tactics are predictable. They likely include a strategically crafted apology that will attempt to spin its way out of real accountability.

“CFC has constantly avoided acknowledging their toxicity and institutional failures, or how they punished me for speaking out and used their power as an institution to publicly discredit me.”

Brazilian-born Lumumba demanded an apology from his former club in June, asserting there was a “culture of racist jokes” at Collingwood Football Club.

Lumumba posted to Twitter: “Collingwood’s suggestion that it will ‘investigate’ itself after actively denying my story for six years is frankly insulting. Senior people in the club have known the truth this whole time and chose a cover-up over transparency.

“I have no desire to convince Collingwood of a truth that they already know. Given the club’s inability to come clean, and the way it has attempted to publicly and privately attack my reputation, I cannot accept that this ‘integrity’ process has been proposed in good faith.

“My claims have been consistent. Instead of simply acknowledging them, Collingwood chose to engage in deceptive and misleading conduct, unnecessarily dragging its fans and members through a scandal which will leave an unfortunate mark on the club’s history.”

In response to Lumumba’s accusations, Collingwood vowed to “search for the truth in the matters raised”.

“While Collingwood has always sought to be guided by values of equality, tolerance, inclusion and respect, in Heritier’s time the club could not fully appreciate the personal impact of his experiences,” the club said in a statement in June.

“Collingwood proudly seeks to encourage and celebrate diversity and difference. A further important objective of the integrity committee’s work is to learn and improve the club’s cultural understanding.”

Collingwood Football Club has been approached for comment.



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Racism, bullying and superstition drove workaholic Oti to Strictly superstardom


When she was partnered with Bill Bailey, Oti might have thought her chances of bringing the Glitterball home two years in a row had quickstepped out the window.

In comparison to buff, athletic 35-year-old ex-Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher, the comic was 20 years older, definitely rotund and likely destined to follow in the dance missteps of Ann Widdecombe and Ed Balls.

That Bill swept to victory in Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night as a favourite of fans and judges is down to his likeability, talent and wit – but, as he was the first to admit, also down to professional dancer partner Oti Mabuse

For the second year in a row, the South African has moulded a champion against the odds – Kelvin arriving as a late replacement, Bill becoming the oldest winner in a year when producing the BBC show at all was an achievement.



Champion Oti Mabuse’s story is an inspiring one

But Oti’s whole life story on the way to becoming Strictly’s best loved and most successful star can be seen as one of never letting obstacles stand in her way – whether it be bullies, racists, superstition or ageing celebrity dancers.

Speaking about her win last night on the Strictly podcast, she said: “The only thing I feel is that now it’s possible.

“It’s possible to be a young girl from a third world country and come here, work hard and do it.

“It’s possible for professional dancers who are on this show, to think, ‘I won it once, I can do it again.’ It’s possible.

“I can’t believe it’s happened… but it’s possible.” 



Judge Motsi Mabuse and her sister Oti as a tot

Her mum Dudu, a teacher, and lawyer dad Peter pushed their children early to achieve their best – a work ethic Oti inspires in her Strictly partners.

But her life began in tragedy – her brother Neo, 18, killed himself shortly after she was born.

Superstitious neighbours in South African capital Pretoria, where the family lived, shunned them in the belief his death would bring bad luck on them.

Oti’s sister, Strictly judge Motsi, 39, said: “He killed himself with a poison.



Oti, centre, with sisters Motsi and Phemelo and their parents

“Because the people of Africa are very religious and superstitious, something bad arose in our neighbourhood. Our family was seen as one where there was a negative energy. Because of this, no one came to us any more.”

The family are still uncertain why Neo killed himself, but it is thought he ­struggled to adjust when the family began to lift themselves out of poverty.

Born when Oti’s mother was a teenager, he had a different father to Oti, Motsi and third sister Phemelo.

The girls’ dad Peter proved his drive and determination by rising through his profession to become a High Court judge.



Oti with her mum Dudu, a teacher, who inspired her to work hard so she could go after her dreams

Although the family moved to a more affluent area, they were still a black family living under apartheid.

Oti was four when Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black leader and the racist system in South Africa began to unravel.

But Motsi recalls how the sisters took a community minibus to their convent school as they were banned from whites-only public transport.

They also struggled to find a dance teacher for a pastime mostly enjoyed by white youngsters.



Oti’s first home in Mabopane Township on the outkirts of Pretoria. The family later moved to a more affluent area

Motsi explained: “It was a very difficult time in South Africa, so to be a little girl and push yourself in this type of dancing, where there are no other black girls, was really tough.” Off the dance floor too, Oti struggled – bullied for her looks and for wearing glasses.

She said: “Kids used to call me ‘four eyes’ – but I always say four are better than two. To anyone who is experiencing bullying I would say, own it.

“You are beautiful because of who you are, not what you look like.”

After studying civil engineering at university, dance became her life. She won the South African Latin American Championship eight times before moving to Germany – and starred in their Strictly equivalent.



Oti first lifted the glitterball trophy with Kelvin Fletcher

She met husband Marius Iepure, a Romanian professional dancer, during a dance trial. Since joining the BBC’s Strictly in 2015, she has wowed her fellow professionals, the contestants and the viewers alike.

Former celebrity partner Danny Mac reached the final with Oti, in 2016. He said: “I adore her, she’s got that personality and the passion. All the other dancers really respect her.”

And Kelvin Fletcher, who won with Oti last year, told her: “You’re a beautiful person, I admire your talent, your creative ability, your dancing ability. I’m just in awe of you.”

As well as her Strictly successes, in March BBC viewers also saw Oti lead Latin dancers Michael and Jowita to victory on The Greatest Dancer.



So it was a double delight with Bill Bailey

Her dedication means early starts and long days – she gets up at 3am and usually works as late as 10pm.

She said: “I’m an extremely early bird. I’ll sit in bed replying to emails, then either choreograph or look at the current routine for things to improve.”

She arrives at the dance studio at 10am and stays until 10pm.

Bill also told how not a minute in the studio is wasted.

He said: “She’s quite strict planning the day. You’re in a very intense work relationship.”

Earlier this year she released her first book, Dance With Oti, which highlights the importance of movement and expressing your feelings.

It reflects her philosophy on life – keep dancing and anything is possible.





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Alphonso Davis, girlfriend Jordyn Huitema, racism, Instagram post, photo, disgusting backlash


Racist abuse sent to Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and his girlfriend has been slammed by the club’s president and other parts of the football world.

Davies’ partner Jordyn Huitema is also a professional footballer who plays for Paris Saint-Germain and a picture she uploaded of the couple to Instagram in August received horrific comments.

Sickening messages referring to the colour of Davies’ skin were left on the photo of the Ghana-born star, 20, and his 19-year-old girlfriend of three years.

The image of the football stars, who have both represented Canada, on holiday in Ibiza attracted over 14,000 comments and last week both Davis and Huitema highlighted the “disgusting” nature of many of them.

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer told German publication Bild: “Our club stands for cosmopolitanism. The racist hostility will not be tolerated by us in any way.

“We founded the ‘Red Against Racism’ initiative some time ago, which we practice very actively throughout the club in all sports and areas.

“Exclusion, discrimination, hatred and violence in every form have no place in our world.

“No matter where you come from — football offers us all a home. Football has the power to connect people. As FC Bayern we always want to contribute to this.”

Davies — whose parents are from Liberia — shared the image from his holiday with Huitema to his 3.2 million Instagram followers and said: “These are the type of comments that are being put under my girlfriend’s pictures, also in her DMs and mine. This is absolutely disgusting.”

Huitema also drew the abuse to the attention of her one million followers by screenshotting some examples and saying: “We will never see the good in the world if all we see is the colour of each other’s skin. We are all part of one race, the human race.”

Canada Soccer released a statement saying they were “disappointed and appalled with the hateful comments”.

It read: “Canada Soccer stands firm against racism and discrimination of any kind both in the game and within all of our communities around the world.

“We are both disappointed and appalled with the hateful comments recently made to members of our National Teams through social media.

“Share love not hate and work together for a better world. #NoToRacism.”

Davies’ Bayern Munich teammate Jerome Boateng also panned the abuse and said: “I’m totally disgusted.”

On Monday, Davies posted a photo of himself wearing a ‘Red Against Racism’ shirt on Twitter, supporting his club’s campaign.

This article first appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission



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