Israel Adesanya led calls for action against racism after speaking out at a George Floyd protest in his New Zealand homeland.
Footage surfaced online showing the fighter speaking powerfully at the George Floyd rally organised in Auckland. Thousands marched alongside him.
The player was part of a crowd of around 2000 that were marching to the US consulate in Auckland. The UFC middleweight champion took a microphone to speak to supporters at one stage, where he delivered a moving address about his own experiences of racial discrimination.
He said, “I’m p***ed off. How many of you walk into a store and have to put your hands behind your back just so they don’t think you’re stealing? How many of you walk down the street and have to kind of smile and try and make the person who you can see is already scared of you make them feel comfortable?”
He added, “I just moved and I’m on the top floor and I have to go in the elevator. Three times already I’ve had racist, scared white people jump when they see me, and I smile at them. So now I’ve got to stay to the side and let them walk through just so they don’t get scared when they see me. Why? Because I’m black. Just because I’m black. What did I do? I didn’t have a choice. If I had a choice, I’d still be black.”
He went on, “After this, we’re gonna march. But we’ve been talking for so long, we’ve been marching for so long. But it’s not about us now. Shoutout to all the white people, all the people of different races being here because we need you. We need you to speak up, we need you to say something because … I’m sick and tired of seeing those faces get killed because guess what? I see myself in them, the whole time, and it’s heartbreaking, man.”