Freeman refuses to take Mundine bait - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freeman refuses to take Mundine bait

05/12/2007 07:53:57 PM Comments (0)

Olympic champion Cathy Freeman is refusing to engage in a war of words with boxer Anthony Mundine after he labelled his fellow Aboriginal athlete a "sellout".

Mundine said the Sydney Olympic gold medallist could not be an authentic indigenous leader while she was involved with corporate Australia.

"Aboriginal people don't buy that. That's what happened to Cathy Freeman. She sold out, toeing the line," News Limited newspapers quote Mundine as saying.

"And that ain't me. I'm not a fake."

Freeman has been increasingly involved in business since her retirement from athletics, and Mundine says this does not help her role in the Aboriginal community.

"If you want to toe the line, if you want to be some corporate guy and say the right things, do the right things. You might be okay in the media's eye, but it won't be real for me," he said.

"I think Cathy has done a lot for Aboriginal people, don't get me wrong. But they (corporate sponsors) control and determine the things she says.

"She is, probably, the pinnacle Olympian, and we all respect that. But Cathy can't say: 'I don't like this prime minister' or 'I don't like this issue'."

While Freeman refused to buy into the controversy, Mundine's critics claimed his shot at the 400m Olympic champion was nothing less than a ploy to boost ticket sales to his WBA title defence on Monday against Argentine Jose Alberto Clavero.

Others suggested Mundine, as a fighter at least, should not be taken so seriously.

One of the world's leading boxing commentators, American Dan Rafael from ESPN.com, described Mundine as a "bogus" world champion.

"That is the most bogus, ridiculous title - I'm not trying to offend anybody in Australia. I have great respect for the great fans in Australia - but anybody who considers that WBA title belt that Anthony Mundine has to be anything other than a joke needs serious help," Rafael told Sydney radio 2KY on Wednesday.

"I mean, it just drives me crazy. He won this nothing title. I mean, the real WBA champion and the real world champion is (Welshman Joe) Calzaghe, and (Dane) Mikkel Kessler was that before.

"It's like a minor league title that doesn't mean anything.

"If it helps the promoters bring fans in, if it helps Anthony Mundine make money, if it helps his opponents make money, fine.

"And if the fights are entertaining, no problem.

"But let's not call him the world champion because he's not."

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