You can’t expect the build-up to a fight to be sterile, inoffensive and always politically correct, but even when one allows for the volatile, emotional environment and expands their idea of what is acceptable behaviour, David Haye has a tendency to waltz over the line.
Haye famously wore a t-shirt, emblazoned on which there was a picture of him holding the decapitated heads of the Klitschko brothers to a press conference back in 2009. He infamously brawled with Dereck Chisora and his coach at another presser in 2012 – one which followed a fight that Haye hadn’t even been involved in. And a remark he made during a Sky Sports News interview, which will not be quoted here, in the lead-up to his abysmal bout with Audley Harrison in 2010 was probably the most distasteful thing that has ever been said in the name of promoting a combat sports event – yes, it was that bad.
So it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise that Haye has once again come in for criticism for his actions.
The build-up to Haye’s heavyweight clash with fellow Brit Tony Bellew, which takes place this Saturday, has been heated to say the least. At a presser last November, Haye actually punched Bellew and the pair had to be separated. Things haven’t been allowed to get physical again since then, but Bellew continues to bury himself further and further beneath the Londoner’s epidermis.
At yet another media event in Bellew’s hometown of Liverpool on Monday, the cruiserweight titlist’s efforts to rattle Haye were aided by the fans in attendance, who heckled ‘The Hayemaker’ at every opportunity. The Londoner became very agitated and he delivered the threat, “I’m going to smash your fucking head in,” with real menace. Haye also took aim at the fans, whom he labelled “f***ing retards”.
The latter remark didn’t sit at all well with former Irish international Kevin Kilbane, who expressed his disgust at Haye’s use of the term during an appearance on Newtalk’s Off the Ball on Tuesday.
“These are the sort of terms, in this day and age, certainly with how we’ve gone on racism, how we’ve gone on sexism, this is the sort of language that is disgraceful,” Kilbane, whose daughter has Down Syndrome, said on the show(via the42.ie).
“I understand gamesmanship and the hype that goes around fights and giving each other all the abuse, we’ve seen it all now. There does seem to be genuine animosity between these two, fair enough.”
“But for David Haye to use the word “retard” — not just once, because he’s used it before — is premeditated. So he knows exactly what he’s saying.”
“No one’s actually correcting him to tell him about the severity of using that word. You think ‘come on mate, you’re representing a sport, you’re representing yourself’. For a man to stand up and use that term is disgraceful.”
“The word ‘mong’ has been used over the years as well. These sort of terms are the equivalent of racism and sexism. And I don’t care what anybody says — it’s exactly the same. These sort of terms should be wiped out, they’re totally unacceptable. For David Haye to use that word, it’s outrageous. I was disgusted when I heard it today.”
“(It’s upsetting) for the people with disabilities. They have feelings. They know what’s being said about them… I don’t think he actually realises what he’s said. It’s total ignorance and a lack of respect for people with disabilities.”
— eir Sport (@eirSport) February 28, 2017