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Boxer Curtis Woodhouse crowned undisputed champion of the Twittersphere after troll-bashing escapade
Simon Parker comment: We’ve all read them, ignored them, blocked them. They are snide, ignorant and – more often than not – cowardly.
So how refreshing was it to see one of these “keyboard warriors” outed by boxer Curtis Woodhouse this week?
The former Sheffield United and Birmingham footballer turned pugilist took exception to the abusive comments of one particular Twitter troll after losing the English light-welterweight title belt.
Criticism and cheap digs from anonymous sources are par for the course in cyberspace. It comes with the territory, whether you box for a living, play for Man United, sing with One Direction or even report on football for the local paper.
You need a thick skin from time to time to ignore the jibes and told-you-so’s from people who have obviously never done anything wrong in their perfect lives.
But anyone who saw Woodhouse’s combative midfield approach on a football pitch would know he’s not the sort to just let things pass.
So he decided to make a stand after one attack too many from one such Twitter bully. Rather than letting it lie, Woodhouse opted to turn the tables.
And for those who follow such spats on social media, it made for some gloriously entertaining reading on Monday afternoon. Unless, of course, you happened to be James O’Brien – the boxer’s keyboard tormentor.
It started with Woodhouse retweeting some of the abusive posts that he had fired off before quickly escalating into a man hunt.
Woodhouse offered a “bounty” for the identity and whereabouts of the Twitter pest. And within minutes he had posted both.
Immediately the swagger disappeared from O’Brien’s messages. You could sense the colour draining just from reading his sudden attempts at conciliation.
When Woodhouse joked that he was coming round O’Brien’s house for a cup of tea, we all laughed. Even the regular references to Sat Nav’s approximate time of arrival just seemed an elaborate way of stretching the gag.
But then he produced a picture of the sign at the end of O’Brien’s road in Sheffield. At that point, tormentor had officially become tormented.
Woodhouse had driven 60 miles from his Grimsby home before he did call it off after a couple more increasingly desperate begging messages. He had made his point in the most emphatic manner.
When they did finally come face to face on Thursday morning, it was in the neutral corner of the TV studio for Daybreak. The referee was Lorraine Kelly ...
O’Brien apologised profusely. He had typed without thinking, not imagining or caring about the hurt it might have caused for the recipient – or, in Woodhouse’s case, his wife who often logged on to his account.
It was a diplomatic ending to an incident which some will argue was blown out of all proportion.
There are far bigger things in the world to worry about in the world than some fool’s cheap shot on Twitter.
Sticks and stones and all that...
But the real result was a victory for decency and a timely shot across the bows for those who think that freedom of speech means they can write whatever about whoever without any danger of reprisal.
The likes of Twitter allows us to pretty much talk to anyone at any time. In the right hands, it is a hugely useful and entertaining tool.
But for the idiot fringe, it is a gateway to fire off their vitriol without a second thought. Vent your spleen and press send – no questions asked.
Except Woodhouse took exception and decided to make a stand. And, surprise, surprise, his bully backed down.
Woodhouse has hopefully reminded anyone tempted to have a pop that actions have consequences. Even from the anonymity of your back bedroom.
He may have lost his title but Curtis Woodhouse has surely been crowned the undisputed champion of the Twitterati.