Aussie sports fans are used to the ridiculous boasts from Anthony Mundine, but his trash talking of Johnathan Thurston was extreme even for him.
Promoting his fight with Charles Hatley (which he lost), Mundine favourably compared himself with the North Queensland, Queensland and Australian superstar, saying that Thurston was like him ‘but way slower…I think I had twin turbos. If he had twin turbos he’d be similar to me. I think if I was around another five or so years I would have got the (accolades) I deserve.’
While most retired sports starts are content enough not to bring up past glories (except to add to anecdotes at sporting dinners or to jokingly one-up old teammates or opponents), Mundine, who retired 15 years ago, is fixed on reminding everyone how good (he thought) he used to be.
Let’s look at the stats:
GAMES: Mundine 127 (St. George, Brisbane, St. George-Illawarra), Thurston 268 (North Queensland, Canterbury)
POINTS: Mundine 244, Thurston 1794
PREMIERSHIPS: Mundine – 1 (Brisbane 1997), Thurston – 2 (Canterbury 2004, North Queensland 2015).
ORIGIN: Mundine (NSW) three games, four points, Thurston (QLD) 33 games, 200 points.
TESTS: Mundine 0 games, Thurston 32 games, 332 points.
While Mundine’s been shooting his mouth off, Thurston has been soaking up the premiership glory and enjoying the off-season.
To be fair to Mundine, he’s managed to switch from rugby league to a decent boxing career, with 47 wins and seven losses. The jury’s still out on the quality of some of those wins though. While he famously beat Danny Green in 2006, talks of a rematch persist, with Green the crowd favourite.
While Mundine is proud of his Indigenous heritage, he not afraid to criticise fellow Indigenous athletes, like Cathy Freeman (‘She sold out, toeing the line…as far as being a leader, that’s not her anyway, a man can only lead’), Tasmanian Daniel Geale (‘I thought they wiped all the Aborigines from Tasmania out…He’s got a white woman, he’s got white kids. I keep it real, all day every day’) and Thurston. You’d almost credit Mundine for having the courage to avoid the dealthy boring cliché-speak of most other sports stars…before realising what he said was stupid, racist and offensive.
Mundine isn’t shy to play the race card himself, saying “racist” Australian selectors didn’t pick him and “forced him” to quit the NRL. This is ridiculous, as Thurston is among a number of proud Indigenous players to represent Australia and has done a mountain of work for the Indigenous community and young footy fans.
So why can’t Mundine shut up? Does his ego fuel the need to create headlines? Does he like the attention? Or could it be a cynical ploy to generate fight publicity through controversy? Maybe he’s just guilty of a big mouth and zero tact?
Regardless of the motives, in a few months Mundine will come up with another boneheaded statement, we’ll all shake our fits wildly, vent on social media (“How dare Mundine say that!”) and then laugh and create Facebook memes as he loses his next fight. Rinse and repeat.