To track down and unmask the so-called trolls anonymously spewing vicious online comments is the dream of many. Now boxer Curtis Woodhouse has done just that in a cautionary tale to all cyber bullies.
The 32 year-old fighter was labelled a “complete disgrace” and “laughable joke” among other things in a spiel of abuse by Twitter user ‘Jimmyob88’ after losing his English light-welterweight title on points to Shane Singleton on Friday night.
Incensed by the onslaught, Woodhouse offered a £1,000 reward to anyone who could help him track down the Sheffield-based culprit, who had reportedly been verbally abusing Woodhouse via Twitter for months.
Prior to boxing, Woodhouse had been a professional footballer for nine seasons in a career which saw him play for Football League clubs including Sheffield United, Birmingham City and Hull, earning caps for the England Under-21 side along the way. He switched to boxing in 2006 with a record of 17 wins and four losses.
After honing in on his antagonist, Woodhouse updated his 18,000 Twitter followers. Locating ‘Jimmyob88’ in South Yorkshire, he got in his car to “give him a right pasting”.
“Just on my way to Sheffield to have a little chat with an old friend, get the kettle on”, he added on Twitter.
Woodhouse later posted a picture of a street sign said to be the road on which @jimmyob88 lived. “Right Jimbob im here,” he then wrote. “Someone tell me what number he lives at or do I have to knock on every door #it’s showtime.”
Realising the tables had been rather unceremoniously turned, ‘Jimmyob88’ attempted a note of contrition.
“I am sorry it’s getting a bit out of hand,” he wrote. “I am in the wrong. I accept that.” He added that the abuse was merely a “bit of harmless fun”.
Having extracted an element of revenge, Woodhouse then called off the hunt. He later joked: “Just found out you can block people. Could have let me know earlier, I could have saved 20 quid in petrol.”
The issue of trolling has become ever-present in recent months as vicious abuse and even death threats have been directed at celebrities, politicians and sports stars. Liam Stacey, a 21-year-old student, was jailed for 56 days for inciting racial hatred by posting racist comments on Twitter after the Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack.
Woodhouse’s fight-back drew praise from others online including ex-boxer Lennox Lewis and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. The latter, who once punched a man who threw an egg at him, said “This is how we deal with things in Hull.”