Ritchie in hot water over racist 'K word' joke

Yahoo!7 November 12, 2012, 10:04 am

Controversial ex-Test bastman Greg Ritchie has found himself in hot water after using a derogatory term against Africans in a speech at the Gabba.

The TV personality, well known for his character Mahatma Cote, defended the use of the "K word" as just a joke and told Fairfax he's "got nothing against Muslim people".

The word, along with other disparaging remarks about muslims, were spoken at a luncheon in Brisbane during the Test match between Australia and South Africa.

Ritchie said the joke was a reference to former teammate Kepler Wessels, who was banned from playing for his native South Africa.

"Hey Kepler, you're not going to call this lot kaffirs today, are you," he said at the luncheon.

The Queenslander defended the joke, saying "if people take offence, that's their choice".

"It's a joke I've used 500 times," Ritchie told Fairfax. "It's a reference to us playing against the West Indies [in a match for Queensland against the West Indies in 1980] and I say to him, 'You wouldn't use that word against these guys would you?' I am not saying that Kepler said that word at all.

"It is to emphasise the fear I had playing against the West Indies. It is a shocking term and it relays the great fear that we all had about facing the West Indies' bowling.

"[In the joke] I say to Kepler, 'Hey, I bet you never use a word like that against the West Indies would you?' I say it with a South African accent. I didn't say it's Kepler saying it. I'm saying, 'Geez, these would be the last kind of blokes South Africans would call that word to.' The story ends with me being knocked out by Andy Roberts and Kepler saying, 'Haha Porky, I told you you could die today'."

Ritchie said he would no longer use the joke on his speaking circuit and was disappointed that it had become an issue.

Cricket Australia responded to the controversy by telling Ritchie he was no longer welcome at cricket grounds, but did not officially ban the 52-year-old.

"Cricket Australia is of the view that it's not appropriate for Greg to be at our cricket venues at this time," a CA spokesman said. ''There is absolutely no place for racism in sport on or off the field. We're fully supportive of the ICC's anti-racism policy on cricket. A senior official from Cricket Australia has contacted Greg, who has confirmed the content of that speech. We've made it clear that his comments were absolutely unacceptable," Cricket Australia said.

Ritchie became a popular figure in his post-playing days as the character Mahatma Cote, a Punjabi parody figure.

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