When the “the most polarising athlete in Australian sports history” sashayed into the South African jungle and was thrust back into the public eye, it was never going to lack headline-worthy drama.
Anthony Mundine, former boxer and NRL star who is as well known for his sporting prowess as he is for his controversial thoughts on women, gay marriage and abortion, has saturated the news cycle since it was revealed he would star in Channel 10’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! on Monday.
Some have drawn attention to his past assertions that it’s appropriate to beat women with “little sticks”, others, more recent interviews where he shed light on his thoughts on gay marriage:
“I was always taught that two genders together is natural; it’s what’s meant to be. Male and male, or female and female, is just confusing to society.”
Anthony Mundine, 42, was born in Sydney’s inner west to two Indigenous parents and has a sister, Kelly.
Given many of his opinions have been controversial, it’s not unusual for us want to understand more. After all, when his beliefs go so totally against the grain of public sentiment, we inherently want to know why. Where does he come from? Who does he surround himself with? What does he believe? Why does he believe what he believes?
Mundine’s beliefs are well-documented. The 42-year-old, who is of Indigenous heritage and converted to Islam in 1999, isn’t exactly shy with his opinions.
He is, however, shy about his family.
According to Fairfax, Mundine’s mother Lyn and his boxing star father Tony split when he was a teenager. Lyn’s mother was a part of the stolen generation, taken when she was a child and never knowing her real family.
Curiously, little more has been made of Mundine’s own immediate family, with conflicting facts appearing online.
In a profile by News Corp in 2009, journalist Trent Dalton writes as follows:
Mundine’s home was built for a family, sprawling brick, bordered by a tall, spiked fence, rumpus rooms off every living area. Outside, an Aboriginal groundskeeper sweeps leaves off the tennis court. Engraved into a palm tree by the swimming pool are the words “Danielle Loves Choc”.
Danielle, heavily pregnant with their fifth child, moves slowly around the house in the background.
The Danielle referenced in the piece is thought to be Danielle Mundine, the boxer’s partner of many years and mother to some of his children. How many remains unclear.
Listen: Were producers of I’m A Celebrity right to put Bernard Tomic in the jungle? Post continues after audio.
For example, in a different profile in 2014 for the Sydney Morning Herald, journalist Mark Dapin writes that Mundine only has four children:
Mundine’s father split up with his mother, Lyn, when Mundine was a teenager. Mundine has never been married, but has four children of his own, aged between nine and 16. […]
He no longer lives with their mother, Danielle.
Fast forward four years, and Mundine, about to walk into the jungle, conducts an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
Their first line read as follows:
He’s believed to have fathered seven children to four women, but there may be more — it’s one thing Anthony Mundine won’t talk about.
In the same interview, he dances around whether he is currently in a relationship, arguing his indigenous cultural heritage and his religious beliefs allow him more than one wife.
“You can have up to four wives done justly, and the same in Aboriginal culture, we are allowed to have more than one wife,” he said. “If I did or I didn’t, I wouldn’t tell anybody, that is my business.”
Considering his thoughts on abortion are wholly pro-life – “some people can’t even have kids so it is a blessing just to receive life so that is a big no-no to me”- perhaps it’s not outside the realm of possibility for him to have seven children roaming around.
Despite this, Mundine has said, on the record, that he is not interested in thrusting his children in the spotlight.
“I try to keep my kids private from the public eye,” he said in 2014, “because they don’t need to be under scrutiny.”
Perhaps Mundine’s complicated family life in part explains his polarising status in the public eye and divisive opinions. Or perhaps his polarising status and divisive opinions in part explain his family life.
Either/or, we guess.
Mamamia reached out to Anthony Mundine’s management to clarify his family tree, but did not hear back at the time of publishing.