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By Neto Baptiste

Batting star Chris Gayle has had his share of controversies over the years with issues on and off the field of play. But, like any other athlete who has faced public criticism for what may have been considered not so smart moments, the Jamaican has always managed to rebound and, in most cases, stronger than before.

One such incident occurred in 2015 when the hard-hitting West Indies batsman was accused by a masseuse, Leanne Russell, of exposing himself while in a dressing room at the Drummoyne Oval in Sydney, Australia.

He sued the then-Fairfax newspapers for defamation after they ran a story detailing Russell’s claims and won his case.

Gayle however, still speaks of that incident and another involving journalist Mel McLaughlin, during a post-match interview in Australia’s Big Bash League in 2016 as moments when many just simply sought to vilify him on account of who he was.

“You could see that that was nothing serious and nothing for anyone to take serious, and they tried to use that to tarnish my reputation, tarnish my career and tried to throw me under the bus. I had never been to a courthouse in my life, and when they start to do such things to tear a black man down, then I wasn’t going to accept that,” he said.

“I decided to fight that and decided to leave all the way from Jamaica to travel so many miles to the next side of the world in Australia to fight that case. When other people came out and said Chris Gayle did this and exposed himself to women and so on, I knew all those things were lies, and they were trying to tear me down, so I had to go out there and fight, I had to defend myself,” he added. 

The batsman, who has amassed 24,093 runs across all three formats with 4772 of those runs coming in the Indian Premier League (IPL), said that as a black West Indian athlete, he has faced unfair criticisms not directed towards athletes from different backgrounds.

“It’s always going to be hard on a black sportsman because when you say certain things out there they would take it in the wrong context and put it out there and they won’t do it for others and I’ve learnt that over the years. It’s always a bit one-sided and most people never actually give the West Indian that sort of credit that it’s not that serious and that’s its very chilled and all that sort of thing,” he said. 

The “Universe Boss” as he is widely known to his fans in both cricket and music spheres, had some advice for young sportsmen and women.

“You can achieve whatever you want out there, so it is just for you to set your mind and be disciplined about it and try to accomplish your goals and never give up on your dreams. Always believe and stay positive, and work towards it because nothing comes easy. Don’t try to cheat yourself and look for an easy route, take the longer route and you will benefit eventually,” Gayle said. 

Gayle has a highest score of 333 in Tests with a best of 215 in One Day International (ODI). He has a best of 117 in T20 Internationals but has scored a highest of 175 in the IPL.