Former boxing champion Jonny Nelson joined the fight on hate crime in Shefield when he spoke at a special event aimed at raising awareness.
Sheffield-born Jonny and former footballer Bruce Dyer spoke to youths who were using their community service sentences to help make people aware of the crime at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium.
The event was held as part of the Step Up Beat Hate project, which is run by chrity Remedi and aims to work with young people across South Yorkshire to find out the reasons behind the rise in hate crime across the county.
Jonny, who holds the record as the longest reigning cruiserweight world champion of all time, said: “No-one should ever have to experience something as horrific as this. No-one has the right to abuse someone, whether this is through racism, or because of how someone looks or acts, or the beliefs they hold.
“Hate crime needs to be stamped out and that is why I am happy to support these young people to raise awareness in the hope it will help deter other people from being abusive.”
Bruce Dyer, who played for Barnsley, Sheffield United, Rotherham United, Doncaster Rovers and Chesterfield during his career, beecame the country's first £1 million-teenager when he joined Crystal Palace in 1994
He said: “I too have suffered racist abuse, which is a hate crime. There is no justification for people being hateful to other people and we need to make people understand this is a crime and it will not be tolerated in any shape or form.”
Both Jonny and Bruce spoke about their experiences as well as some of the young people who have been involved in the project.
Remedia manager Nicole Slater added: “We have been talking to them about hate crime and what to do if you are victim.
“Everything we’ve done was with the aim of raising awareness and educating young people in how to report such crimes.”