Jeff Horn, who shocked the boxing world with an upset win over Manny Pacquiao to win the WBO welterweight title, dedicated his victory to kids who are bullied.
“To all the kids out there in schools — I’m not saying Manny Pacquiao’s a bully or anything — but I’m just saying that this is a win for all you guys out there being bullied,” Horn said from Brisbane, Australia, moments after defeating Pacquiao Saturday night. (The decision was roundly criticized by virtually every boxing expert, who thought Pacquiao clearly won.)
Horn, 29, grew up in Australia and was the constant target of bullies in high school, once being attacked by 30 people. He later took up boxing to defend himself and prior to the Pacquiao fight recalled the hurt he felt from being picked on.
“I got called ‘gay’ a lot. Words like that shouldn't hurt me, but I was a kid. It cuts deep, especially when it's every day. You don't know how to stop it,” Horn said.
“Day by day, it takes a bit of you. I know the lows you can feel. I've had those feelings, like suicidal thoughts. I can remember some days that I felt that because of the bullying.”
Pacquiao might not be a bully, but he has espoused nasty anti-gay views, once comparing gays to being “worse than animals.” Horn was taken aback by Pacquiao’s comments.
"I was [shocked by his views],” Horn said. “Even if he thought it, I'm shocked he came out with it. Being in the role he is, being a public figure, maybe he can get away with that. I don't really get into that type of thing. People can do what people want to do. It's everyone's own life."
It’s cool that in the highlight of his athletic life, Horn thought of others who are in the same situation that was once in.