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Boxing champ Saunders apologizes for making light of domestic violence during coronavirus lockdown

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The attempt at comedy was a “how to” on dealing with women during coronavirus lockdown

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Billy Joe Saunders retains his title Nov. 9, 2019 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

British boxer Billy Joe Saunders, who successfully defended his WBO Super Middleweight title against Argentinian Marcelo Esteban Coceres last November in Los Angeles, has once again found himself in a self-made controversy. Saunders, who previously released a video of himself taunting and convincing a drug addict to punch passers-by from his Rolls Royce in 2018, posted this latest problematic video on twitter.

Dressed in sweats and standing beside a heavy bag, Saunders addresses the rising tensions of households across the world. He then suggested that if “your old woman is giving you a little bit of mouth” or if “she’s coming at you, spitting a bit of venom in your face” to “hit her on the chin.”

Saunders demonstrated the punch on the heavy bag, and continued to illustrate how to “finish her off.”

While a disturbingly large number of fans defended the video as “just a joke,” many more decried it as advocating domestic violence.

Saunders eventually issued an apology on Twitter, stating, “I would never condone domestic violence and if I saw a man touch a woman I would smash him to pieces myself. Apologies if I offended any women, stay blessed.”

He later deleted his Twitter account.

American boxer Claressa Shields posted a video retort to Twitter, offering “all women in abusive relationships a defense mechanism.” While Shields did not call out Saunders by name, she clearly alluded to his video as she set up her self-defense tutorial. The Olympic gold medallist and three weight champion keeps her advice her simple—duck and hit him hard in the nuts.

Boxer and MMA fighter Heather Hardy also wasn’t happy with Saunders’ post.

Police officers have anecdotally reported the increase in domestic violence shortly after the coronavirus sent people to shelter in their homes, and more numbers are becoming available. In China’s Hubei province, home of the coronavirus outbreak, domestic violence tripled in the month of February. In Brazil, there has been a 50% increase of women seeking shelter. A Spanish helpline has seen a 20% increase in calls.

In Saunders’ native of Britain, officials have made a point of announcing that victims of domestic abuse will face no penalties for defying lockdown in an effort to escape their situations.

While domestic violence is largely perceived as a gendered crime, with men as perpetrators and women as victims, it is believed about 13% of victims are men. Because these incidents are underreported, the data varies greatly from source to source, with some claiming the number is as high as 40%.


If you are in an unsafe situation and in need of help, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call them at 1 (800) 799-7233.