Cricket-West Indies great Holding urges honest conversation on race relations

  • Cricket
  • Saturday, 27 Nov 2021

Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 19, 2021 Former West Indies cricket player Michael Holding before the races Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

(Reuters) - West Indies bowling great Michael Holding said his book "Why We Kneel, How We Rise" was hard to write but it was an important work because it stressed the importance of honest conversation about race relations.

The book, which has been nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, covers racism in sport and features contributions from athletes such as Olympic champion Usain Bolt and World Cup winner Thierry Henry.

"Some parts of the book were disturbing. They were tough, hard to write and hard to read. A couple of chapters I don't even want to read them over," Holding told the competition organisers.

"My sister refused to read one chapter. Some parts of it were not very nice. But if you're going to have the conversation, you have to have an honest conversation. You can't have a conversation about what is comfortable only."

Holding also mentioned that he initially had no intention of writing such a book, but was eventually persuaded to do so by people's reaction to his impassioned monologue on Sky Sports in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

"Well, I thought what I had said (on Sky) was enough. I said as such to (former England cricketer) Ian Ward. He was the first person who came to me when we got back to the commentary box and asked what next," said the 67-year-old, who picked up 249 wickets in 60 tests for the West Indies.

"I said if people don't understand the situation after what I've said, how can I then make them understand?"

"But what I said got so many people giving me feedback and so many people prompted me to go further, that I decided, okay we have to do this book."

Holding added that the book was not just limited to sport, and that it attempted to shine a light on racism as a whole.

"I had to use sport, because I am a sports person to some degree and I had to bring in some sporting icons because I want people to recognise these names, names that people know from all different walks of life, from all different parts of the world," he said.

"I need people to recognise the fact that where they were from, how much money they had, their sex, their religion, all that did not matter. What mattered was that they had dark skin.

"We can attempt to fix all the different sports, but it's society that I would like to see get fixed."

Holding's book is on a six-title shortlist for the award, with the winner to be announced on Dec. 2.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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