Anthony Joshua has been left reeling at the reaction to his Black Lives Matter speech.
The heavyweight world champion read out the passionate speech during a protest in Watford last weekend.
But he believes his words have been misinterpreted to suggest a boycott of shops run by white people.
Joshua faced a backlash on social media with a petition calling for him to be omitted from the SPOTY shortlist reaching 17,000 signatures before it was removed.
And his promoter Eddie Hearn admitted his fighter has been affected by the onslaught of criticism.
“I spoke to him for an hour this morning,” Hearn told Sky Sports News. “He’s pretty upset.
“I’ve known Anthony Joshua for eight years. I know him inside out. It hurts when some of the accusations have been flying his way.
“This is a good individual, with good morals, a good person, that wants to change the world for the better.
“I think one of the positives that have come out of his appearance is conversation, is talking points, is change and that is very important to him and it should be important to all of us.
“He read someone’s speech out, which he may have phrased differently, if he had read it himself.
“People want to interpret the words of that in many different ways. I’ve seen some strange thoughts of what that was supposed to mean.
“It wasn’t his words, but he did speak some of his own words as well, which was about uplifting his community, investing in his community, which is Watford, and he’s got a seven-figure investment that he’s putting into his own town soon to give people more opportunities.
“He spoke about gang culture being dead, he spoke about making sure that all gatherings and protests were peaceful ones. There were so many positives that came out of what he said.”
Joshua took to Twitter in response to the accusations, saying: “If you watch the whole video, the speech was passed around for someone to read and I took the lead.
“I personally spoke from the heart about the Watford community, ideas of us personally investing seven figures to create unity and opportunities and adding change to the African/Caribbean community.
“Shops aren’t the issue here. Before you talk [negatively]you better boycott racism.
“I said what I said and I will act to make change.”