LONDON • The newly-crowned British world heavyweight boxing champion, Tyson Fury, is being investigated by police for hate crime after making comments about homosexuality.
Fury, 27, has attracted calls for his removal from the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year award after likening homosexuality to paedophilia.
In an interview with a Sunday newspaper, Fury, a Christian, said: "There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia.
"So who would have thought in the Fifties and Sixties that those first two would be legalised?"
He added: "People can say 'Oh, you're against abortions and you're against paedophilia, you're against homosexuality, you're against whatever', but my faith and my culture is all based on the Bible."
He later denied making the comments and claimed that Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for The Mail on Sunday, had made up the quotes. He was forced to acknowledge that those were his words after the recording of the interview was published online.
Greater Manchester police received a complaint on Tuesday after his comments were aired on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme. A police spokesman said: "We take every allegation of hate crime extremely seriously."
The petition to remove Fury from the shortlist of Sports Personality of the Year had reached 111,000 on Tuesday. The BBC said his inclusion on the shortlist was purely because of his sporting achievement and was not an endorsement of his personal views.
Fury, who comes from an Irish traveller family in Manchester, won the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organisation titles on Nov 28 by defeating Wladimir Klitschko.
On Tuesday he was stripped of his IBF title after refusing a mandatory defence, against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov, preferring to set up a rematch with Klitschko.
The Klitschko rematch was guaranteed by a clause in the contract for their original fight, won by Fury in a unanimous points decision.
Klitschko was quick to take up the option, leaving his compatriot out in the cold and Fury facing the loss of one of his three belts.
THE TIMES, LONDON