Former St George centre Anthony Mundine has given his support to Latrell Mitchell ahead of the South Sydney star's return to the playing field.
Mundine, no stranger to the media's spotlight, took the time during a stop in Dubbo to promote a new indigenous art project to urge Mitchell to push back against attacks from the media.
"They're picking on Latrell right now, they're singling him out and they're picking on him because of the race issue," Mundine said.
"It's happening to Latrell because he's proud of his culture and he's proud of his heritage and it's coming up because he's not backing down from them."
Mundine, who has strong ties to Wellington and the Wiradjuri people of the Central West, departed the NRL in 2000, in part because of his view that his representative duties were cut short due to his race and outspoken beliefs.
It's happening to Latrell because he's proud of his culture and he's proud of his heritage...Anthony Mundine
"That's how I was, I was ruthless with those people, if you followed me, followed my career and you followed what I stood for, you knew that I was ruthless and I didn't care about what the media thought of me," Mundine said.
"Latrell's the same way, they're going to keep going at him over it because of that."
Mundine said the best way to address the attacks was head-on, calling for Latrell to stay strong.
"When that happens, you've just got to stay staunch and stay strong, you've got to surround yourself with loved ones and involve yourself in the culture," Mundine said.
"That's a big reason why we came to Dubbo and why we wanted to put the indigenous artwork on the roads, because that empowerment from the people is really strong and you just can't beat that, but he's got to stay staunch and surround himself with some strong people."
Fighting is no new prospect for Mundine, with the former boxing world champion still optimistic about the chances of closing out his career sometime this year.
The multiple time title holder is still committed to idea of facing off one last time and has the perfect opponent in mind for a swan-song for a storied career.
"I still want to fight Michael Zerafa," Mundine said, during a recent stop in Dubbo.
While the COVID-19 crisis has delayed any possible planning for the potential bout between Mundine and Zerafa, 'the Man' is still adamant that he wants to see the fight happen before the end of the year.
"As soon as they can get the crowds back into a stadium or around the ring, which I'm hoping will be by the end of the year, I want to do it," Mundine said.
"We've got to try and roll with it until we can get crowds back."
Zerafa, who lost a majority decision to Jeff Horn in his last appearance in the ring, has had several run ins with Mundine both in person and on social media.
"That's something I'm definitely still open to, it's something I'm hoping to do, he's someone who's been out there talking and he's disrespected me a number of times, so I want to get back out there and I want to prove to him that he's still not on my level," Mundine said.
"Even at my age now, I still think I beat him and that's what I want to show him."
"I know that I've got nothing to prove, but it's one of those things that's personal, I just don't like him and I want to get in there and hurt him."