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Tyson Fury apologises at Sports Personality of the Year awards

Tyson Fury issued an apology over his controversial comments regarding homosexuality and the role of women at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in Belfast.

Fury was given a good reception by the audience following his brief interview with Gary Lineker, in which the world heavyweight champion insisted he had not meant any malice.

"I've said a lot of stuff in the past and none of it with intentions to hurt anybody," said Fury. "It's all very tongue in cheek, it's all fun and games to me. I'm not a very serious kind of person -- it's all very happy-go-lucky with Tyson Fury.

"If I've said anything in the past that's hurt anybody, I apologise."

Fury had been met by a small but vocal group of protesters upon his arrival at the SSE Arena, and was booed by a section of the 7,500 audience when his name was first announced.

John O'Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, an LBGT support group, said: "It is very disappointing that the BBC have ignored public opinion and refused to remove Tyson Fury from the shortlist, even though his late addition came after his disgraceful and inflammatory comments about women and gay people.

"An excellent boxer Tyson Fury may be, however his extremely callous and erroneous remarks about our community make him an unworthy candidate to be recognised among the UK's excellent sporting personalities and ambassador."

Fury has faced a barrage of criticism over his personal views since his victory over Ukranian Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, IBF and WBO belts in Dusseldorf last month.

Some 130,000 people had signed a petition calling for the BBC to remove the controversial fighter from its shortlist after allegedly homophobic and sexist comments.

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