Oscars 2022: Former Sheffield United and Birmingham City man weighs in on Will Smith and Chris Rock 'slap' debate

Curtis Woodhouse, the former Sheffield United star turned British champion boxer, has backed actor Will Smith after he struck Oscars host Chris Rock in the face on-stage, after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.

Monday, 28th March 2022, 1:19 pm
Updated Monday, 28th March 2022, 1:38 pm

The Los Angeles ceremony was thrown into chaos after Smith stormed the stage and slapped Rock after the joke. Minutes later, Smith picked up his first Oscar for best actor, for his role as tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard in King Richard.

Smith apologised to both the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock, as he collected his gong, joking that he "looks like the crazy father."

Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

It was later reported that Rock will not press charges over the slap and Woodhouse - who came through the ranks at United before later earning a £1m move to Birmingham City, playing in the Premier League and then retiring to launch a boxing career – backed the actor’s actions in protecting his family.

Will Smith just did what I expect any man worth his salt to do,” Woodhouse, who won the British light-welterweight title in 2014, wrote on Twitter.

“I understand the world we live in now is all watered down and strong is no longer acceptable. But strip a man down and our basic instinct is to provide and protect for our family. Big up Will Smith.”

In replies to fans, Woodhouse later added: “I wouldn’t take too kindly about somebody making a joke about my wife if she had an illness.

Actor Will Smith (L), actress Jada Pinkett Smith and comedian Chris Rock (ANGELA WEISS,ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

“Everybody is different I suppose but I wouldn’t sit back while somebody took the **** about my wife in front of the world.

“But again everybody deals with things differently. Just my opinion.”

“I think in comedy not much is off limits,” Woodhouse later wrote.

Curtis Woodhouse became United's youngest-ever captain at 19 before moving to Birmingham for £1m. He retired from football and later won the British light-welterweight boxing title.

“Comedians should never be censored or cancelled. But you must also realise they could be consequences. I think that’s fair?

“Say whatever you want but be careful, you might get a smack in the mouth for it. That’s life, brother!”

The incident did not appear to dampen Smith's spirits as he celebrated his win at the Vanity Fair afterparty with his wife and three children - sons Trey, 29, and Jaden, 23, and daughter Willow, 21.

The actor and rapper was filmed on the dancefloor, clutching his Oscar while performing a rendition of his 1998 hit Gettin' Jiggy Wit It.