• Australian no.1 powerlifter and Wiradjuri man had his image altered to display a racist slur across his chest on a social media post. (Instagram: Patrick Morrison)Source: Instagram: Patrick Morrison
Australian no.1 powerlifter, Patrick Morrison, is one of many Aboriginal athletes walking out on events by a national powerlifting body, after a social media post from its president generated a barrage of racist comments.
Shahni Wellington

22 Jan 2021 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 22 Jan 2021 - 1:17 PM

Some of the country's best athletes will no longer compete in top-ranking powerlifting events, in response to racist commentary online.  

The boycott is being led by Australian no.1 powerlifter and Wiradjuri and Kookatha man Patrick Morrison, who was racially vilified in a Facebook post comments section. 

This week, the president of the Australian branch of the Global Powerlifting Committee, Markos Markopolous, used his social media platform to criticise the name change of a controversial cheese brand. 

The post, which has since been deleted, took aim at "a minority group of trouble-makers," questioned "what sort of spineless executives bow to a minority," and referenced a "victim mentality".

After engaging with Mr Markopolous directly and online, Mr Morrison found that followers went as far as to post a photo of himself with the racial slur super-imposed across his front. 

Mr Morrison has announced he will no longer compete in any affiliated competitions.

As a six-time ProRaw champion, the decision will majorly affect his sporting career.

"Having been at the level that I'm at for the past seven years, and having those competitions and choosing to walk away from them wasn't an easy decision," Mr Morrison told NITV News.

"You know, I'm at the top of the sport in this country... So if someone like myself didn't call it out, being an Indigenous man, what example do I set?"


Apology posted

Markos Markopolous issued an apology for the post on social media.

"I unreservedly apologise to anyone and everyone I hurt," said Mr Markopolous. "I'm not a bad guy, anyone that knows me is aware of that."

Both the official Global Powerlifting Committee - Australia website and Mr Markopoulos' personal Facebook page have gone offline in the past 24 hours.

Mr Morrison has described the apology post as "damage control."

Boycott continues

Yindjibarndi woman Zoe Raymond has been part of Global Powerlifting Committee - Australia for five years. She has set multiple records with the body and initially joined because of it's "wonderful culture" and "supportive feel."

After also engaging with the controversial post, she told NITV News she won't be returning in 2021.

"I no longer feel safe as an Indigenous woman within that Federation and I'm still very much friends with people who are still there... However, I can't sit below and compete under someone who has such big views on a controversial racist argument that's going on," said Ms Raymond.

Ms Raymond believes there needs to be more accountability for the online altercation.

"I feel that he [Markos Markopolous] has done a lot for the community, he has done a lot for the Federation - I don't put that past him. But I feel that people in power need to realise what they say will be taken on by those who follow them," she said.

An official complaint has been filed with Global Powerlifting Committee - Australia.