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Conor McGregor addresses racism accusations, says he never called African-Americans ‘monkeys’

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather has accused Conor McGregor multiple times of calling African-American “monkeys” in the lead up to their boxing match.

On Friday night in an interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, McGregor addressed those accusations for the first time. The UFC lightweight champion said he never called black people monkeys and explained that the “dancing monkeys” quote from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” was not referring to African-Americans.

“I never labeled him a monkey or any African American or anyone a monkey,” McGregor said. “I would not disrespect any race like that. And his people know that. And you know what? He knows that, too. He knows that deep down, too.”

On the MayMac World Tour, McGregor told Mayweather to dance for him, calling him “boy.” And on the New York stop, he addressed the crowd on stage about race. McGregor said he couldn’t be racist, because he’s half black — “from the belly button down.” Then he did a gyrating dance for his “beautiful black female fans.”

In the “monkeys” quote from the “Jimmy Kimmel” interview, which has been removed from that show’s YouTube page, McGregor was asked if he could beat Rocky Balboa from Rocky 3. McGregor was unsure of which of the Rocky films that was and asked if it was the one with the celebrity gym and “the dancing monkeys in the gym.”

Some outlets — and Mayweather — assumed McGregor was talking about the scene in Rocky 3 when Balboa was brought to an all-African American gym. McGregor told Helwani that is not what he was talking about. He said he recalled a celebrity gym in one of the Rocky movies that was like a circus with clowns and monkeys.

“That’s what I meant by that,” McGregor said. “Then, [Mayweather] tried to twist and manipulate. All I can say, if anyone was offended, I apologize. But it was not meant in that way at all. He knows it, his people know it. It’s a weak move on his part, it is a weasel move on his part.”

McGregor, 29, said he did not appreciate Mayweather using his words incorrectly against him in the fight promotion. The two meet in a boxing match Aug. 26 in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena.

“If I was to label him after any animal, it would be the rat,” McGregor said. “I wouldn’t even label him after the great ape. He is a f*cking rat and a weasel, because that’s that a rat and weasel does, tries to manipulate words and create something that’s not there. Ask [Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard] Ellerbe, ask Floyd Sr. They know. It’s a weak move on his part to even try to instigate something. And something so sensitive.

“But that’s the individual he is. He’s a man that beats his wife in front of his kid. What can I say? All I can say is, I never spoke those things. That’s it.”

Mayweather did jail time in 2012 on domestic violence charges. The all-time great boxer called McGregor a homophobic slur on the MayMac World Tour and apologized for it Thursday.

In an interview with ESPN last week, Mayweather said he was upset that McGregor called African Americans “monkeys” and that he would be fighting for “all the blacks in the world.”