Boxer Anthony Joshua faced criticism this weekend from rape victims after comments he made about the sex assault allegations against soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Joshua, 29, called Ronaldo his “hero” -- even as the Portuguese footballer faces allegations he raped a woman in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. He's also had to pay more than $21 million to avoid jail time for a tax fraud conviction.
“I’ve always said two things you’d get f----d for as an athlete is women and tax, he’s got f----d for both and he’s still smiling, still strong,” Joshua said at an event promoting his upcoming bout with Jarrell Miller, according to The Telegraph.
“You need mental strength, he’s proved that. He’s a family man, he’s got that aspect, but still out working and he’s dedicated to what he does. So as a sportsman, he’s had the issue of one side, he’s got the family on the other side, and he balances what he’s passionate about. He completes all the packages, so I like Ronaldo for that reason,” he added.
The unified heavyweight boxing champion was blasted by a rape victims group, who told The Telegraph that Joshua was “trivializing” the allegations against the Juventus star.
“It’s inappropriate, insensitive and disrespectful to make jokes or flippant remarks about allegations or instances of sexual violence and abuse in any context,” Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England and Wales, told The Telegraph.
Russell added that society needs to emphasize more with those who have suffered from sexual assault.
Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.