Katie Taylor elicits apology from WBO
Pro challenger Billy Joe Saunders after his outrageous anti-female
by Michael O'Neill / Sue Fox
July 30, 2015
(JULY 30) English Boxer
Billy Joe Saunders hit the headlines in Britain and Ireland last
week with an outrageous statement on women who box with these
weasel words on iFL TV :
“I think women are there for sex every night; hard sex.
Cleaning, cooking, washing, and sex. They’re not there to put on
headgear and get punched. That’s my opinion on women, but I’m
just a sex maniac.”
Saunders is the current British, European and Commonwealth
Middleweight champion and is the WBO’s mandatory challenger and
due to fight Andy Lee at Thomond Park on September 19th for the
World Boxing Organisation’s world Middleweight crown. He is
guaranteed an ‘exceptionally’ warm welcome in Limerick now,
that’s for sure. Neither Saunders nor the Promoter Frank Warren
seemed keen on a suggestion that Katie Taylor might (subject to
AIBA approval) be added to that bill.
There followed an exchange of views both private and via Twitter
with AIBA Olympic Gold medallist - and 5 times world champion -
Katie Taylor who made plain her disgust at his remarks about
women in general and not just on their ability to box.
“I feel sorry for his wife and daughter if that's his only view
— Katie Taylor (@KatieTaylor)
Video of Interview of Bill Joe
Clearly he was unprepared for the outrage that followed from
males and females alike with the overwhelming majority against
Andy Lee said: “It was an immature and foolish comment that he
made publicly. I will make sure he feels immature and foolish on
fight night. I urge all the women who have been offended by him
to sit back and enjoy the painful lesson I will give him on your
behalf.” Lee in fact was like Taylor an Irish Olympic boxing
star in his amateur days and a friend of the Bray woman.
Comments came quick and fast. In the ‘Examiner’ Conor Hicks gave
this advice to the Olympic champion : “You should just offer him
a charity match and punch him into a coma, Katie.”
‘BrayGuy’ tweeted a more restrained but equally threatening :
“Tell him to come out to Bray and say that.”
On website 42.ie and indeed on several websites, boxing forums
and on radio as well as via Twitter, further and not dissimilar
recommendations and words of wisdom followed.
These included : “He’s a clown” “IQ of a rocking horse !!”
“Funny how a ‘woman’ has achieved so much more than he ever will
in the world of sport!”
Dublin North councillor Janice Boylan made clear her view of
Saunders: “His remarks and comments where highly offensive to
women. Katie Taylor was right for voicing her disgust at said
comments and I agree strongly with her.
To suggest he made the comments because of his background is
exactly why we shouldn’t tolerate them in the first place. Women
are not sex objects, second class citizens, or less than men.
We are so much more than homemakers, yes we cook, clean and have
sex so what, we also box professionally, serve our country,
participate in other world class sports, run countries, make
great politicians, save lives, create life and so much much
more. There was no excuse for his brutish comments and there can
be no tolerance for them”.
A reminder that as we reported here last week, just before
Saunders ill-timed intervention, there had been a request to the
AIBA to agree to Taylor appearing on that Pro-Am bill though as
at the time of writing that august body has not yet said YES or
NO ; there are many sound reasons as to why they should approve
not least of them being that it is extremely rare for any AIBA
boxer, male or female, to be fighting in front of a 33,000
crowd, save for an Olympic Games.
With likely millions more viewing on TV and/or Live streaming in
Europe perhaps worldwide, it is a “win-win” proposal that the
AIBA should not dismiss.
It would also allow the watching audience in Limerick and
elsewhere to see just how talented women boxers are and who
better to ‘advertise’ that expertise than Taylor.
In the widely read ‘Cork Evening Echo’ Mary Crilly, Director at
Sexual Violence Centre Cork called Saunders “offensive and
arrogant”, agreeing with Taylor’s point.
“What needs to be said is if he is speaking like this about one
woman then he is speaking about all women- his mother, his
partner, daughter, nieces.
“Whatever people think about boxing, for women like Katie Taylor
who have worked so hard to get where they are to be dismissed
like this is disgusting.”
Ms. Crilly went on to say that whilst Saunders’ comments are
shocking she positively encouraged dialogue on the issue.
“People might be shocked that these attitudes are out there and
what’s more is he feels that he has the right to speak about
“I don’t think he is going to rock the world with these comments
but he is showing his true colours and people will see him in
that light and it has people speaking about sexism which is
alive and well.”
Cork boxer, and like Taylor a member of Team Ireland in
International competition, was equally dismissive of his
Christina, from Macroom who at 19 years of age is a Team Ireland
European medallist said that she felt the need to speak out
having seen the video shared on Facebook by friends in the
boxing world. She has also represented her country at the Youth
Olympic Games in Nanjing last year.
“It’s frustrating and I think it’s a shame that a fighter of his
standing thinks that he can say what he wants.
“I decided to speak out because it has to be done. You can’t say
things like that.”
Christina added that she is no stranger to sexist comments but
that they still get her down.
“I started boxing for fitness and then got into it seriously.
“When you hear comments like this it really knocks you back a
step. I’ve experienced sexism though it’s gotten better as I’ve
grown older. I’ve been told that women shouldn’t box or don’t
belong in sport.
“I know that boxing is a male dominated world but comments like
his are degrading not only for women in boxing but for all
So how has Saunders responded? Clearly he was shocked at the
response, and within 24 hours of Taylor’s intervention whilst on
holiday, he had given yet another interview to iFL TV and You
“About all this Twitter stuff I keep getting – all this bad
stuff saying what I’ve said about women – it’s only a joke”, he
Saunders issues public apology
over women's remarks
Listen, Katie Taylor is a very, very good fighter. She’s done
what she’s done. Nicola Adams and all that. I’ve got the highest
respect for them. I’m not saying women shouldn’t box – it’s
their choice. They’ve won gold medals when I’ve got beat in the
second round of the Olympics – they’re Olympic champions. I just
want to clear that up. I reckon they’re very good to the sport.”
“We’ve got to get men off the street and young boys off the
street the same way we have to get young girls off the street.
They’re showing that side of it. I don’t want to be painted as a
man who thinks women are there for cooking and sex – even though
they’re still good at it.”
“If people know me, they know what sort of character I am. I say
things. If I can help anyone I will and I’m not one of those
people that goes around taking the piss – ‘let’s have a laugh’,
‘have a banter’. I do my job and the fans like it. But I’m sorry
if I’ve upset anybody and I apologise but that’s all I can do.”
“I apologise. If anybody’s offended by that, I’m sorry. When you
see me, just come give me a cuddle and I’ll cuddle you back.”
Is it not the case that boxers worldwide and not just those in
countries like Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and India, have
had to put up with such abuse? And what of boxing powerhouses
Cuba which still does not even allow any form of women’s boxing
be it ‘amateur’ or ‘professional’? If you live in any of these
countries your view is particularly welcome.
Back in April this year, the AIBA’s President C.K. Wu signed a
‘memorandum of understanding with Cuba.
“Signing this memorandum with the Cuban Boxing Federation is a
significant step in AIBA’s history, and it highlights our
commitment to supporting the very best boxing talent in the
world. We are very grateful for the trust and commitment shown
by FCB toward our organization.”
President of Cuba Boxing Federation Mr. Alberto Puig de la Barca
also expressed his delight at the signing of the memorandum.
“Today is an important day for the development of Cuban boxing
and I am happy to be a part of this historic event for our
sport. This agreement will ensure that Cuban boxing continues to
grow and prosper all over the world,” he said.
So will AIBA President Dr. C.K. Wu now be putting immediate
pressure on his Cuban counterpart to allow women in Cuba to take
part in competition?
Can we now expect to see Cuban women in Tokyo 2020 if not in Rio
At the recent American Boxing Confederation championships in
Toronto, leading Canadian boxer and Gold medallist Mandy Bujold
said: “I actually asked one of the Cuban coaches that question
and his response was that they want to protect their women, they
don’t feel there’s enough protection with what we wear when
we’re in the ring,” he told her.
Canadian coach Adrian Teodorescu posed a similar question to
Cuban coach, Alcides Sagarra, the best coach in the world, and
he said it’s not a sport for woman. And I know he was always
against it., the ‘Toronto Sun’ reported last week: and again
:“In Cuba, it’s forbidden,” Cuban boxing official Alejandro
Martinez said through an interpreter on Monday. “Maybe now that
they’re opening Cuba, maybe they will open the sport to women.
But the political people in Cuba ... boxing female? Not yet. But
maybe (starting) this year.”
Bujold is hoping that the Cubans will eventually encourage their
girls to get in the boxing ring and they’ll start entering
fighters in international competitions.
“I don’t even think they let them in the gyms,” Bujold said.
“It’s odd. But it would be cool to see what they would come out
with. We always used to think that they were kind of hiding a
team and then one would just show up all of a sudden and kick
everybody’s butt, but it hasn’t happened.”
WBAN has regularly hit out at this type of comment over many
years though of course it applies to many sports and not just
boxing. The sexualisation / discrimination of women in sport is equally bad in
tennis for example, lots of other sports too. If any of
you have a similar story to share, forward it to WBAN at