By Terence Dooley
Kenny Andersonís fifth-round stoppage win over former WBC super middleweight world champion Robin Reid should have been the start of a new dawn for the Edinburgh-based boxer.† Anderson picked up the vacant British 168lb title, he has a meeting with former champion Paul Smith penciled in for his first defence and given that former champion George Groves has recently moved on to bigger things the Scottish boxer believed that he would no longer have to field questions about his former opponent.†
Groves, 15-0 (12), stopped Anderson, 18-1 (13), in the sixth-round of their Commonwealth title fight in November 2010.† The Londoner hit the deck in the third, but got up to register a win.† Further victories over Daniel Adotey Allotey, James DeGale, Paul Smith and Francisco Sierra have led to a showdown with former undisputed world champion Glen Johnson on December 15.
Groves, though, had a series of fights lined up with Anderson over the past year after the BBBoC mandated a Groves-Anderson return for Grovesís British title.† Injuries put paid to two of the dates, the lack of a suitable venue nixed a third, and Groves was eventually stripped of his title by the Board, which freed it up for Anderson and Reid.
Despite claims that the bad history between the two had led to death threats against Groves, which came to light in the British press in March yet did not lead to a sustained police investigation, the elevation of Groves pushed their rivalry to the backburner.† However, things heated up again in the wake of Andersonís win over Reid when a Tweet was sent to Grovesís account by an Anderson fan who claimed to be his brother-in-law.
The Tweet, which stated that Grovesís wife should take a bath in bleach, was condemned by Anderson, and deleted by the person who sent it.† The fan in question went on to claim that telling a woman to bathe in bleach is used as a condemnation of her moral fiber, rather than colour, in Edinburgh and indeed this is the case in other Northern towns such as Liverpool and Manchester.†
This said, it lacked class given that Groveís wife is not involved in the sport and should not be targeted by rival fans.† Moreover, Grovesís decision to publish a photo on his Twitter feed of someone, presumably Groves, throwing the Lonsdale belt into the bin, his reiteration of the claim that he has endured a death threat, plus racist and other abuse from Andersonís family, has prompted a swift response from the new British champion.
ďI donít mind a bit of ribbing, thatís part of the sport, but not to have someone slandering my name, I canít have that and something needs to be done, so Iíve sought legal advice,Ē said Anderson when speaking to BoxingScene.† ďIt is OK getting abuse from random fans on Twitter, but an opponent and fellow sportsman, who has over 30,000 fans on Twitter, claiming racism from me or my family is something that cannot be allowed to happen.† I know people say stuff in the heat of the moment, but it is not something thatís been said randomly, heís left it out there so people can see what heís saying.Ē
Anderson, though, admitted that he does know the person who abused Grovesís wife on Twitter, but argued out that he is not a member of his close family or circle and did not represent his views.
ďNo, and I didnít even know that this guy had made this remark,Ē he said when asked if the comment came from an immediate family member.† ďBut I donít think that racism would come into his mindset.† A local journalist said it was similar to when you tell a woman to have a bath in Dettol or with some wire and bleach ó it is not meant as serious or racist in any way.
ďIím not married, for a start, so he isnít an in-law (as claimed by Groves), but sportsmen canít be responsible for what their fans might say.† What I say is my own opinion, and I stand by them, and thatís obviously something that is not representative of me.† To say Iím a racist is totally unfounded.† I know that I did not make racial comments.† I know that my friends arenít racist.† I come from Edinburgh, a very multicultural city, and have been brought up here among all races.
ďIíve worked with guys like Yassine (El Maachi), Jeff (Thomas) and have cousins who are Jamaican.† Iím not trying to play the nice guy, Iím not saying Iím a good guy, but Iím certainly not racist.† This guy is my girlfriendís cousin or something that like.† People made it out to be someone who was practically living in my house.
ďSo to say my family is racist, or has given George racist abuse, is unfounded and untrue.† I have not appointed a spokesman to speak on behalf of Kenny Anderson.† I am my own man and speak for myself.† A comment that isnít anything to do with me, and the person who made it has said wasnít meant to be racist, has blackened my name.† Iím just glad that people I care about know it is not true.Ē
The abuse leveled at Grovesís wife appeared on Sunday morning, the photo of the British title being deposited into the bin was published last night.† The bad feeling between the two has played out across social media sites with increasing regularity, but Anderson believes it is Groves who is stoking the flames.
ďIt is a personal attack on me through Twitter,Ē he said.† ďIt isnít the first time heís done this, there were personal attacks from him against my trainer, Kevin Maree, that went too far and thereís been problems between him and other boxers.† I used to think that James DeGale was the problem, but thereís since been arguments with Smith and this stuff with me.† Iíve not had any falling outs with other boxers apart from him, but heís had a few now.
ďI wish Groves all success for his future because heís moved on.† I didnít want to mention him before my fight.† If a reporter spoke to me about Groves then I made a point of dismissing it because I didnít want to disrespect Robin.† It is closed in my mind between me and him because weíre not fighting and thereís no business between us now.Ē
Anderson also dismissed the idea that he broke training camp to oversee death threats to Groves ahead of their scheduled March date.† He said: ďSome of the stuff about the threats against his life, whether he is saying through me or friends of mine, is something that is sincerely misplaced and I believe fabricated.† If the police think youíre a threat to someoneís life then they at least speak to you about it, but theyíve not spoken to me about something like that.† It is something he has made up to harm my image.
ďHow silly would it be to train for 12-weeks then sacrifice it with something like that?† How could I jeopardise a fight at the last-minute with something that is so childish and ludicrous.† It was pure lies to make themselves look better because fans were upset about losing money on travel and tickets.† Unless heís lying, he would feel he has to do something and to take it further.† I feel the way people have assumed stuff about me is totally unjustified.
ďI donít mind if you use social media to criticise me or criticise my opponents.† You canít take it as a personal thing because it is just someoneís opinion, but you have to take it seriously if it is a serious accusation from someone public who is in his position.† Then it is a very different matter.
ďIn regards to the British belt itself, I trust the Board to resolve the matter, as I did all along.† It is also not the case that anyone has taken his belt, certainly not me, the Board decided to strip him, not me.† I was fighting for the vacant belt, but what if Robin Reid had won?† I didnít want it to be like that, I wanted to win it from the champion.† Being stripped of a title is a terrible thing for a fighter because they want to defend their titles.Ē
In mitigation, Groves can argue that he was using the British title to make a joke by holding it over a bin and comparing Anderson to the character Oscar The Grouch from Sesame Street.† It struck most fans as a riff on Riddick Bowe chucking his WBC title into a bin.† The message some people took from the photo is that the title was beneath Groves, which has caused consternation, as the British title is the oldest in the sport.† Not to mention the fact that Groves was the recipient of a BBBoC award for sportsmanship after maintaining his composure during his feud with DeGale.
Still, the Lonsdale belt does bring out misty-eyed sentimentality amongst jaded boxing fans, especially as fighters have been severely injured while trying to win it, so it was a miscalculation.†
ďI did think it was distasteful,Ē stated Anderson.† ďIt may have been a misplaced attempt at humour, which I donít have a problem with and didnít cause me distress, thatís his humour, but the way he treated the belt is hurtful to me and other fighters.† It was a mistake to put the Lonsdale belt in the bin, however he meant it, but to throw racism at me off the back of that, it is obvious what that is about and it is disgusting.
ďWeíve all had jibes at each other in the media, weíve all had fans say stuff to both of us.† Iím a real man who lives in the real world.† I donít spend my life on Twitter.† People can come on and say Iím a poor boxer, not in Grovesís league or am going to get battered by Smith, thatís up to them and the beauty of Twitter.† I donít know how many fans on Twitter give me abuse, calling me ĎJockí and the rest, but if I started to argue back with people just because they like Groves or are from London then kicked up a stink myself I wouldnít get through the day.† Social media is good, but there are pitfalls to it.
ďThen to have someone use it to say something against you as an entire family is ridiculous.† It is a childish response after a juvenile joke photo.† I havenít got a personal thing against Groves.† If it was personal, then Iíd phone him and confront him over the issues, but this is a boxing thing, a sporting grievance.
ďTo think Iím staying up late at night thinking up campaigns against him is paranoia.† You donít want to be going down that route ó I have a life outside boxing, so donít have time for these campaigns on Twitter.† It is sad that people who love the sport are seeing people in the sport act in this way, but I honestly feel that Iím not contributing to it, even though people will have an opinion when reading this, Iím just trying to give my side and then leave it at that.
ďWeíre adults.† Letís get this calmed down and get a grip of ourselves.† If George feels there is something going on outside of boxing then he can give me a call and talk to me as a man.† Thatís how I was brought up by my dad.† You confront your issues.
ďEveryone has their own opinions.† No doubt Iíll get abuse for this, George will get abuse for it, but I hope George doesnít take this to heart because people on Twitter give us their opinion and it counts for nothing.† Iím not trying to make myself look better or worse, I just feel he has been wrong in what heís done and how heís done it.
ďIt is downright dirty the way this has all turned out, and it is all off the back of George himself, a bit of stick is one thing, but this is beyond that.† To call me a racist is not on.† I see the accusations of footballers who are accused of racism and it disgusts me as a sportsman.† It does look bad for the sport, definitely, thereís no place for racism or accusations of racism in sport.† To get this resolved as simply as it could be would be good for the sport.† I just want an error corrected.Ē
It is unfortunate that this feud has played out across Twitter and has cast a negative light on a sport that is frowned upon by many.† However, David Hayeís press conference brawl with Dereck Chisora portrayed boxing in a bad light, then they eventually fought and shook on it.† Anderson and Groves have already met in the ring, they are unlikely to meet up for a photo opportunity anytime soon, but it is high time to put it to bed.† Anderson intends to pursue his legal options, but only as a final resort, a retraction from Groves would end any legal action.
ďIím not looking for anything more than that,Ē he said.† ďIíd be happy with that.† The guy made a mistake, if he takes it back then why mention it again?† Iíd like to think it is that simple, but when pride is in the air it is rarely like that.† Just admit that you were wrong.† The thing with the belt was bad, but the boxing public loves you one minute and hates you the next.† Iíll get some stick, but I just want to resolve this racist thing.Ē
Hopefully, with the Groves saga behind him, Anderson can focus on a fight against Paul Smith, which BoxingSceneís John Evans described as a battle between two of the most uncompromising men in the sport.
ďPaul is a sportsman, heís not said anything bad about me and I wonít say anything bad about him,Ē he said.† ďI wonít be his pal, but weíll have civility.† Now Iíve got to focus my attention on Smith, who is a formidable guy.† I look forward to that because heís a gentleman and conducts himself in a professional manner.† Paul is a good spokesman for the sport, so to fight someone like that is a great thing for me.† Thereíll be sporting respect ó thatís all you look for.† People know that boxing isnít known for its pleasantries, but civility has always been here in the sport.Ē
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