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BBC must roll with punches and stand by Tyson Fury


Don Anderson

Don Anderson

Don Anderson

Tyson Fury is a British boxer, whose hero is Muhammad Ali. Ali's boastful rants became part of his persona. Fury was crowned heavyweight champion of the world after beating Wladimir Klitschko recently, hence the accolade of late nomination to the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Like Ali, he has used his mouth to raise his profile and, in doing so, has outraged political correctionists. In a relatively short time, more than 90,000 signed a petition to have the boxer removed from SPOTY over offensive comments he was reported making about gays, abortion and fellow shortlisted athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill ("slaps up good" and "a woman's best place is in the kitchen and on her back").

He wasn't nice about other nominees, like Davis Cup winner Andy Murray and World F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, either.

"I've got more personality in my little toe than they've all got put together, so if it comes to personality, there's only one winner. What personality does it take to drive a car around a track 100 times, or hit a ball back and forth?" In the light of that, it wouldn't be a surprise that somewhere in a BBC office there's a decision-maker wondering if he/she made an over-hasty decision to include Fury.

The fragility in the BBC can be gauged from an apology given to a newspaper by a BBC spokesperson: "We apologise to any viewers who were offended by the language Clive Myrie used during a discussion on the late night paper review on the News Channel." Myrie had said, late on Monday night, "You cannot be a d******* and win Sports Personality of the Year." I wonder about the truth of that, but in any case, it's not something to apologise for.

I doubt many were offended - certainly not as many as possibly were offended by Fury's original remarks. Is everybody becoming fragile and losing a sense of humour?

Many will disagree with the words of Tyson Fury and seek to dislodge him for that reason from being considered for the BBC award. An English author once wrote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

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With that in mind, the BBC was right to nominate Tyson for a personality award and should not be fragile about it.

I think the boxer may be keeping his tongue in his cheek - except when punching and being punched.

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