By Johnny Walker
Former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield has apologized for some controversial remarks he made on a popular UK reality TV show, Celebrity Big Brother.
Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs) stepped in it with some anti-gay sentiments, and then got further immersed in the dung when he also indicated that he’d once engaged in the abuse of animals.
The former champion, who was the first to be booted off of the current edition of the show, said that being gay “ain’t normal” after being asked by another contestant about whether people should be able to be open about who they are.
Holyfield then attempted to justify his remarks by reference to scripture, claiming that “the Bible lets you know there’s wrong, there’s right.”
While that remark may have gone over well enough in some parts of his own country, in the UK it caused a furor, with Channel 5 receiving a deluge of viewer complaints.
Holyfield’s attempted explanation that being gay was like being disabled failed to extricate him from the sticky situation.
“If you’re born and your leg were turned this way, what do you do? You go to a doctor and get it fixed back right,” said the Real Deal, implying that being gay was a matter that could be corrected via medical treatment.
Not content to stop there, Holyfield then further endeared himself to British audiences by admitting that he once “punched a pregnant horse in the face” when it embarrassed him by bucking him off.
Soon, animal rights activists were joining gay rights advocates in swamping the channel with angry phone calls. Holyfield was apparently told by the show’s producers that he was breaking the rules of the program with his views and needed to leave, pronto.
Holyfield later admitted that he had misjudged what the show was about and was glad to be out of the UK.
“Well I’m back home out of the house, glad to be home back to the Real Deal life,” tweeted Holyfield. “I thought the Big Brother show was about inspiring people; it wasn’t that type of show.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to respond publicly about my recent statements regarding homosexuality and also my comments about animals.
“I am deeply saddened by any offense I may have caused anyone based upon what I said. I am sorry to any person I may have hurt or offended… I am a man of compassion, and I believe that God loves everybody.”