I have long-admired Anthony Mundine as an incredible athlete, a brilliant showman and a passionate and generous supporter of his community. He has shown again in recent days that he can get himself into trouble when it comes to articulating his thoughts on a range of subjects he feels strongly about. He clearly went too far when questioning Daniel Geale's heritage and by dragging Geale's wife and children into the conversation, as any reasonable person would agree. To Mundine's credit he manned up and offered an unreserved and completely genuine apology to Geale's face on the "Wide World of Sports" program.
Play video: Watch Mundine's apology
Mundine also wanted to voice his frustration with several big picture issues, but I had to interrupt him and ask that he focus on his apology to Geale and the upcoming fight. Everyone is well aware of his concerns and there was a real danger that the true purpose of his appearance would be lost among another wandering soapbox tirade. What we were left with was a very sincere, heart-felt apology, as he realised he had hurt not only Geale, but Geale's family and a lot of members of his own community.
What I find most frustrating about Mundine is that all the good work he does behind the scenes is completely overshadowed by these outbursts. People who really know "The Man" know just how much effort he puts into supporting his community. He is an extremely generous person who believes firmly in the need to improve things for his people and he puts his money where his mouth is. He is a doer and he is a great role model for children, showing that hard work and clean living are the keys to success.
Everyone knows that Mundine is a showman who has made a healthy career out of promoting his own fights through some outrageous statements. You only have to ask Geale and he will tell you that this fight will only be huge because of Mundine’s ability to promote it. Geale is a terrific fighter as he has proven on the world stage, but he realises that he would struggle to generate the interest that Mundine can generate. The big pay day they will both enjoy will come from Mundine's involvement and the fervour he creates among fans, who either love him or want to see his head knocked off.
You only have to look back at his career to see just what a freakish sporting talent he is. I've followed him since he was a teenager coming through the rugby league ranks. He could do things on a football field that others simply couldn't and he probably should have played for his country. He was good enough at basketball to be approached by NBL scouts, and he was a brilliant cricketer as well. He is just a truly gifted athlete who has in many ways opened the door for people like Sonny Bill Williams to try their hand at several sports, to defy those who tell them they should focus their careers on a single sport.
At the end of the day, this will be the biggest fight in Australia since the Mundine v Danny Green fight. It will be a sell-out and will be watched in pubs and clubs around the country and across the world. A lot of people will be hoping to see Mundine lose, but there are also a lot of people who know the real Mundine, know how generous he is and know that he really is a proud leader for his community. He might stumble occasionally in trying to articulate himself, but his heart really is in the right place.