I'm A Celebrity 2018: Anthony Mundine says gay people are 'confusing' to society

Anthony Mundine will be the first "intruder" on this season of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!

On Sunday, nine contestants – including tennis player Bernard Tomic, actor Kerry Armstrong and '80s pop star Tiffany – entered the campsite on Channel Ten's reality show. During Monday's episode, Mundine will become the 10th.

He's well aware that his reputation precedes him.

Anthony Mundine is the first intruder on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Photo: Nigel Wright

Anthony Mundine is the first intruder on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Photo: Nigel Wright

"The media have made me out to be a villain," says the champion boxer, who is one of Australia's best-known Aboriginal sportspeople.

"People mistake my confidence for arrogance. I'm actually quite a shy, humble person. I treat people the way I want to be treated, and I hope Australians get to see that side of me in the jungle."

Mundine knows what's required of him at a post-match press conference: bravado, swagger and a few good quotes. "When it's, 'Lights, camera, action!', I turn into a different beast," he says. "Away from that, I'm a cool cat."

But his controversial comments aren't limited to sport. He believes in traditional roles for men and women, and has criticised the ABC for "promoting" homosexuality to young people.

"My biggest fear is Allah and if Allah prohibits it, then it's wrong," says Mundine, who converted to Islam in 1999.

"I was always taught that two genders together is natural; it's what's meant to be. Male and male, or female and female, is just confusing to society."

He is quick to add that one of his best friends is a gay man, and he no problem with gay individuals.

"That's their prerogative, all I can is warn them," he says. "I always tell my gay friend, 'You've got to find a lady ... god will judge you, not me."

Mundine says his faith will help him survive the rigours of filming, including the small daily rations of rice and beans. 

"During Ramadan, I spend a whole month with no water and no food between sunrise and sunset. It tests your patience; you learn that you have to control your emotions and be kind and gentle."

Mundine, 42, played professional rugby in the 1990s before switching to boxing.

Once he is is dropped into the campsite, he will share a pit toilet and and outdoor shower with the other celebrities. Their sleeping quarters are simply rough canvas hammocks under a tarpaulin.

"I wake up at weird times, so not waking up other people will be a challenge," he says.

"My dad [former boxer Tony Mundine] lives in a remote place outside Grafton; being outdoors doesn't worry me ... but there's no way I could chew on a maggot."

As a cricket-obsessed teenager, Mundine was awestruck by the West Indies. After a one day game, he waited to get autographs from the players. Finally, he saw legendary batsman Viv Richards, who was chatting to a female fan. 

"I looked up to him so much," he recalls. "I built up the courage and asked him for an autograph, and he just goes, 'Can't you see I'm busy?' I swore from that moment that if I did really well in my career, and people came up to me, I would always be nice to them."

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! airs Mondays to Thursdays on Channel Ten. 

The journalist travelled to South Africa courtesy of Ten.