Nigerian-born British boxer, Anthony Ogogo has joined the array of sports stars throwing their weight behind same sex marriage, as he says he is not one to support any form of xenophobia and homophobic tendencies towards other people’s beliefs.
To prove his words in action, Ogogo, who has enjoyed many sporting highs – a Commonwealth Games middleweight silver medal, Olympic bronze, his victories as a professional, officiated at the wedding of his sister and her wife in June, an event he described it as one of the proudest moments of his life and one of the coolest.
He stressed that the honour of marrying Joanne to Helen brought him a particular sense of satisfaction, special on a different level to his achievements as a boxer, but says getting close up with family matters so much.
In the wedding video, he guides the happy couple through their marriage vows; he signed off the tweet with #LoveIsLove, a rainbow flag, and smiley-face emojis about his attempts to keep Joanne and Helen word perfect.
Ogogo desperately wanted to have been celebrating gold at London 2012, but the memory of bringing his bronze medal to show mum Teresa as she lay in hospital recovering from a brain aneurysm is one filled with the utmost joy.
While Ogogo’s pride was echoed by scores of likes and positive replies, there were some homophobic comments and reactions too, such that the level of their nastiness riled him – specific, hateful, even threatening.
Many people would simply move on, but Ogogo wasn’t prepared to let the abuse slide. He called it out in a series of follow-up posts, and was widely applauded for being an ally to his sister, his new sister-in-law, and LGBT people in general.
Interest in Ogogo’s stand against homophobia led to an appearance on ITV’s This Morning show to discuss the Twitter abuse, and the issue of trolling in general.
With his family, he accepted invites to Pride in London and the annual parade in Norwich, where he launched the march alongside the Lord Mayor and Town Cryer wearing a rainbow cowboy hat.
The Ogogos are from Lowestoft on the East Anglian coast; Anthony once played for Norwich City’s youth team, and supports The Canaries, as football has brought his voice to the fore on this topic once again.
He’ll be on a panel discussing LGBT-phobia in its various discriminatory forms at Call It Out 2019, an event being convened by the network of UK LGBT fans groups Pride In Football at West Ham’s London Stadium this Saturday.
Supporters and other stakeholders from across the game – particularly those affiliated to clubs that don’t yet have their own LGBT fans group – are being asked to attend, contribute, and learn more about why taking decisive action on inclusion makes sense.
Six months ago, there was the low of calling a premature end to his boxing career, as damage to his eyes forced him to conclude life as a pro fighter at the age of 30, but Ogogo is taking his mind back to activities outside the ring to keep his excitement levels high.
In his ventures outside of the ring – including modeling, appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, and taking part in other reality TV shows – he has never lacked enthusiasm.
Recently, he’s expressed interest in going into both wrestling and politics… maybe not at the same time, but he’ll try to get to grips with anything.
Ogogo told Sky Sports: “If you’re a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, it’s totally irrelevant, and the fact that some people look down upon that, it upsets me. It angers me. It’s really saddening.
“I’m blown away by the love and support from old and new followers. The hundred or so followers he lost were swiftly replaced by thousands of new ones.
“I’m just standing up for what’s right,” says Ogogo. Following the events of the summer, he wants more straight allies – in sport and elsewhere in society – to stand up too.
“I’m glad that I can have a small ripple effect in this and whatever good I can do for the cause, then great.
“People should just learn a little bit. It’s not scary. I feel very lucky that my sister is a lesbian – I’ve been enlightened by that.