Billy Joe Saunders fined £15,000 for video ‘encouraging domestic abuse’

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Billy Joe Saunders been fined £15,000 for filming a video which appeared to encourage domestic violence.

The super-middleweight world champion filmed himself instructing men how to hit their partners if they argue during the coronavirus lockdown.

He intended it as a joke but was forced to apologise after the footage circulated and has been widely criticised, including by domestic abuse charities.

The British Boxing Board suspended Saunders but took almost four months to decide on a punishment before the Traveller appeared before the Stewards on Wednesday to explain his actions.

Saunders, whose fine will be donated to charity, missed out on a fight with Canelo Alvarez due to the pandemic and now looks to have lost his shot at the Mexican star for good.

It is the second time in just over two years he has been punished having been fined £100,000 in 2018 for offering woman drugs in exchange for a sex act.

Apologising for his latest transgression, Saunders said: “It was a very, very, very bad out of taste joke, I am a God-fearing man and I do not condone domestic violence under any circumstances.

“When I created the video in poor taste, I never considered how people might interpret it and instead was trying to make light of the very stressful situation we have all found ourselves in and the heightened emotions of families being confined to each other’s’ company.

“It did not cross my mind about the actual reality of domestic violence and its sufferers and the second I realised it could cause any upset I quickly took the video down but unfortunately with the way social media works, it spread like wildfire. I can’t change that, I have and do wholeheartedly apologise.

“I can only take actions to help people, and will be making a donation from my next fight purse to a British domestic violence charity to help victims and prevent future victims of domestic abuse. I will also host some self defence workshops and seminars for survivors and current or potential sufferers of domestic violence.

“Unfortunately I can’t take the video back, but I can do my bit to help people who suffer or have suffered and become part of the public voice to prevent domestic violence and change future generations attitudes and that’s what I am committed to doing.”

Saunders’ actions were criticised by his promoter Eddie Hearn while domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid said the video sent out a dangerous message during a time when such incidents were on the increase.

A statement read: “Domestic abuse is never a joking matter, but when thousands of women are trapped in their homes with a perpetrator and are fearing for their lives, whether it is supposed to be a joke or not, the Billy Joe Saunders video sends out a dangerous message. At Women’s Aid we know that domestic abuse is deadly serious, and costs lives.

“Before the pandemic, an average of three women every fortnight were murdered by their male partner or ex-partner.

“Now that we are experiencing a nationwide lockdown, those living with domestic abuse who know that their home is not a safe place are even more exposed to danger than before. In the last two weeks, Avon and Somerset police have reported a 20.9% increase in domestic abuse incidents.”

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