‘Racism is a pandemic’: Anthony Joshua on crutches as he marches in Black Lives Matter protest

Tom Kershaw

Anthony Joshua described racism as a “pandemic” as he joined a Black Lives Matter protest in his hometown of Watford on Saturday afternoon, despite wearing a brace on his left leg and using crutches.

The WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion, wearing a black hoodie bearing the name of the movement, joined hundreds of peaceful protestors following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, by a white police officer in Minnesota on 25 May.

Addressing protestors, Joshua said: “The virus has been declared a pandemic. This is out of control. And I’m not talking about Covid-19. The virus I’m talking about is called racism.”

“We can no longer sit back and remain silent on these senseless, unlawful killings and sly racism on another human being – based on what? Only their skin colour.

“We need to speak out in peaceful demonstrations – just like today, so well done Watford. We must not use a demonstration for selfish motives and turn it into rioting and looting.”

A spokesman for the Briton said that the knee brace was “precautionary” and of “no immediate concern” after a slight twinge in training.

The Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “I was horrified to see the shocking murder of George Floyd and I know that this, and events like it, have caused pain to so many people.

“It’s important we always stand up and challenge every form of discrimination, racism and injustice. I’m proud to be mayor of a diverse town, where people from many different backgrounds care for one another and share in each other’s successes and struggles. This is a source of strength for our town.”

Joshua, who reclaimed his heavyweight titles by defeating Andy Ruiz last December, is expected to face Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev before the end of the year – with an all-British undisputed heavyweight bout against Tyson Fury mooted for 2021.

“It’s not a difficult fight to make. Whatever is on the table is 50-50,’ Fury’s promoter Frank Warren told Sky Sports. “Fury is the No 1 heavyweight but we don’t say 60-40. 50-50 down the middle.

“I’m very excited at the thought of this fight. But both fighters have contracts at the moment – AJ against Pulev and Fury against [Deontay] Wilder.”