UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya has addressed protesters gathering at a Black Lives Matter rally of 4,000 people in Auckland.
The rally was organised to honour George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for 9 minutes, causing asphyxia leading to death.
Protests have continued for the sixth consecutive night across the United States as demonstrators fill the streets to protest police brutality.
Adesanya, who was born in Nigeria but moved to New Zealand as a child, expressed his frustration over the racial prejudices that still exist towards black people.
“I’m p***ed off. How many of you walk into a store and have to put your hands behind your back just so they don’t think you’re stealing?” Adensanya said.
“How many of you walk down the street and have to kind of smile and try and make the person who you can see is already scared of you make them feel comfortable?”
Adesanya then went on to share his own experiences with racism in New Zealand.
“I just moved and I’m on the top floor and I have to go in the elevator. Three times already I’ve had to have racist, scared white people jump when they see me, and I smile at them,” Adesanya said.
“So now I’ve got to stay to the side and let them walk through just so they don’t get scared when they see me. Why? Because I’m black. Just because I’m black. What did I do? I didn’t have a choice. If I had a choice, I’d still be black.”
Adesanya then thanked the culturally diverse crowd for standing with his people, and highlighted the need for a unified front to help change the world.
“Shoutout to all the white people, all the people of different races being here because we need you”
“We need you to speak up, we need you to say something because … I’m sick and tired of seeing those faces get killed because guess what? I see myself in them, the whole time, and it’s heartbreaking, man.”