'I hope it educates people': Mundine says he won't stand for anthem at fight

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Controversial boxer Anthony Mundine says he won't stand up for the national anthem ahead of his rematch with Danny Green in Adelaide on Friday, saying it's an insult to Indigenous Australians.

Ahead of Australian boxing's most anticipated rematch, Anthony Mundine's focus appeared to be shifting between his opponent, Danny Green, and Australia's national anthem.

At an open-air training session in the heart of Adelaide, the fighter defended comments he made in a newspaper interview, calling the national anthem "racist" and "disrespectful" to Indigenous Australians.

"I don't think it's right," he said. "I don't think it's just for my people, I don't think it's just for myself, my ancestors, my grandmother, my grandfather. So I would not like to see it played."

In the article, Mr Mundine also targeted Indigenous singer Jessica Mauboy, who he claimed was chosen to perform the anthem at the fight "because she is black".

But Mr Mundine insisted his comments were not meant to be divisive, saying he hopes "it will just educate people".

"(Mauboy) might not have researched it," he said. "She might not know the actual facts around the anthem. I do.

"I can't talk for Jess. If she wants to do that, that's on her but I just want to educate her and everybody else."

Sony Music, who represent Ms Mauboy, did not respond to SBS's request for comment.

Australia's Anthony Mundine, right, reacts as he is declared the winner in his 2006 fight against Danny Green (AAP)
Australia's Anthony Mundine, right, reacts as he is declared the winner in his 2006 fight against Danny Green (AAP)
AAP

Boxer Danny Green said while he will be standing for the anthem at the rematch of the 2006 fight, he respected why his opponent may not choose to do so.

"If he feels so passionately and strongly about that, so be it," he said. "That's his prerogative, that's his opinion and that's his choice.

"I'll be standing for the anthem, and I'll be singing the anthem."

Fresh from the debate about whether the date for Australia Day should be changed, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull once again found himself on the defensive.

"I don't agree with him," Mr Turnbull said about Mr Mundine's comments.

"Our national anthem unites all Australians. From our first Australians, to the newest baby in the arms of a migrant mother."

Others, like Australian Catholic University lecturer Anthony Dillon, came out swinging against Mr Mundine.

"He's certainly wrong because there are many like him who are young and they're not oppressed and they're doing quite well," he said. "(The anthem) may not describe the current day perfectly. But it's certainly not racist and it's just a bloody anthem."



But Jackie Huggins, from the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, disagreed.

"When you have words like "For we are young and free", Aboriginal people have lived in this country for 60,000 years; where's the Terra Nullius debate there?" she said.

"We have the highest incarceration rates in our country, which is unacceptable by world standards."

Ms Huggins also dismissed critics who said Mr Mundine's comments were little more than a publicity stunt.

But boxing commentator Paul Upham said Mr Mundine is a man of both conviction, and promotion.

"The timing, I think, maybe it's a coincidence," he said. "But I think he's clever enough to know what he's doing.

"By giving a controversial opinion, it's going to sell his agenda and also sell his fight."

 

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