Anthony Mundine sparring with his father Tony in Brisbane. Picture: Peter Wallis
Anthony Mundine sparring with his father Tony in Brisbane. Picture: Peter Wallis

The moment Mundine becomes 'The Man'

ANTHONY Mundine is in a reflective mood.

"When I'm in the competitive mode I say some stupid shit," he admits.

"But it's all part of the show baby, it's all part of the circus. You can't go to the circus and have no monkeys.

"I'm not a monkey, but I am a silverback gorilla."

The Man has just finished a public training session outside Brisbane Casino as promotion for Friday night's fight against local hero Jeff Horn.

It's stinking hot and the session has consisted of a couple of minutes of hitting the pads worn by his father, Australian boxing great Tony Mundine.

He barely breaks a sweat but at 43 years of age Mundine probably shouldn't be exerting himself too much, although he insists he has never been in better shape.

Anthony Mundine talks poses for photos with fans after a sparring session. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Anthony Mundine talks poses for photos with fans after a sparring session. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Besides, the crowd of about 150 - made up of boxing fans, workers in hi-vis coveralls and bemused passers-by - aren't there for the sparring. They are far more interested in getting a selfie with 'The Man', and he is more than happy to oblige.

He goes from one group to the next, posing patiently, smiling for the camera and, without fail, shaking hands before moving on.

This is the side of Mundine you don't often see. The one when the TV cameras aren't on and 'The Man' is off.

Although, it must be said, that even when The Man is "on" these days it is a far cry from the fireworks of old.

Following the sparring and the selfies he holds a short media conference. The questions are pretty tame and The Man is even tamer. Forget Anthony Mundine. Incredible as it seems, this is Anthony Mundane.

It is only at very end, almost as if he has remembered the role he is being paid to play, that he fires up.

Mundine and Horn go face to face.
Mundine and Horn go face to face.

"That little cat can hit me as hard as he can," he barks looking straight into the cameras. "He can't hurt me. I'm The Man, I'm the show. Get your pay-for-view, get your popcorn, get your ice cream, get your Coco Pops, and watch me take care of business."

Afterwards, when the cameras have all packed up and the crowd headed off to stock up on Coco Pops for Friday night, I ask him about that late spark of energy. About whether he thought to himself, "hang on, I'd better say something crazy to sell some tickets" and flicked a switch.

"I don't say crazy things. It's just when I get into that competitive mode I become The Man. I'm not Anthony Mundine anymore. I become the alter ego," he said.

"It's not about tickets. Everyone who knows me knows I'm going to give you a great show. I was born to entertain. Not only do I put bums on seats but I send people home happy."

Okay, maybe not crazy then, but certainly not always clever. Have there been times when he has crossed the line and regretted it afterwards?

"A couple of times. Not so much gone over the line but the way I articulated what I wanted to say and sounded rude and savage. And people, especially the media, misconstrued what I said."

Mundine in talk mode.
Mundine in talk mode.

Was his comment about the US bringing the September 11 attacks on themselves one of those occasions?

"One hundred per cent. That hurt me then and it's still hurting me today because I'm against all killing. It's not that I shouldn't have said it, but it was the way I said it," he said.

The jury is still out over whether Friday night at Suncorp will be Mundine's last fight. He says if he is to keep fighting it will only be against a big name for "big coin".

If he is to retire from the ring he would like to do some work in the media or get together with the Australian government to work as a mentor and inspiration in indigenous communities, "changing people's lives for the better".

But no matter what he does when he leaves the ring The Man is certain of one thing that even his greatest detractors can't deny.

"It's going to be boring when I'm gone, bro."

News Corp Australia


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