Australian newspaper group apologises for 'punch drunk' Irish boxer headline
Australian newspaper group Fairfax Media was forced into an embarrassing apology after an article about Katie Taylor's triumph over Britain's Natasha Jonas in the Olympic boxing ring was branded as "lazy sterotyping" of the Irish.
The article hit the websites of 'The Age', the 'Brisbane Times' and the 'Sydney Morning Herald' yesterday, with the headline: "Punch Drunk: Ireland intoxicated as Taylor swings towards victory boxing gold."
The Irish Ambassador to Australia, Noel White, quickly fired off a letter of complaint to Fairfax Media which resulted in the article being amended and the headline changed.
Ambassador White wrote: "The article by Peter Hanlon in today's on-line editions of Fairfax publications is a welcome celebration of the achievements of Irish boxer Katie Taylor and a timely reflection of the pride that Irish people have taken for some time in her domination of the boxing ring.
"All the more disappointing then that the piece should lapse into lazy stereotyping. References to intoxication and to named drinks are inappropriate and beneath the standard that one expects of Fairfax Media."
The opening paragraph said: "For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow. It added: "Dark-haired, deep-eyed and engaging, Taylor is not what you'd expect in a fighting Irishwoman, nor is she surrounded by people who'd prefer a punch to a potato."
The Fairfax journalist who wrote the piece, told the 'Irish Echo' newspaper in Sydney that he was "deeply sorry".
"I can only apologise and say that I abhor racism. The references in the story's introduction, and further down to Katie's closest supporters, were poorly chosen; I wish I had my time over," he added.