Former world champion David Haye grabbed a man by the throat and threatened to kill him because he believed he had said “derogatory things” about him and his partner.
The 41-year-old, who won the world heavyweight title in 2009, is accused of assaulting man Nikesh Jhala at the Hammersmith Apollo on October 30 last year.
Hay appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday wearing a white shirt and navy blazer.
Jonathan Bryan, prosecuting, told the court that the alleged attack took place during the interval of a Paul Chowdhury comedy concert at the venue.
Mr Jala, his girlfriend and his cousin were sitting behind Haye and her girlfriend.
“It appears that Mr Hay believed that some of the people sitting behind him were saying derogatory things about him and his partner,” Mr Bryan said.
“We say Mr Hay put his hands around Mr Jala’s throat and threatened him, saying he would kill Mr Jala if he said anything more,” Mr Bryan said.
He told the court that Mr Jala was not hurt by the incident, but that he was left “shaken”.
The prosecutor added: “The security was aware of the incident, but nothing was done about it.”
James Scobie QC, defending, said his client’s case was that he never put his hands around Mr Jala’s throat or threatened to kill him.
“Our round is definitely ‘hands on shoulders’ and there is never a threat to kill,” he said.
Mr. Jala testified in court.
He said that he was there with his cousin and his girlfriend.
Initially, his group sat in the back, but later the staff moved them to the front of the venue during the interval.
Mr Jala told the court he was not talking about Hay, but instead talked about how he and his friends were happy to get better seats.
Television footage of the incident shows Haye walking over his chair and bending down to speak to Mr Jala.
Mr Jala said: “He leans towards me and talks into my ear and puts his hands around my throat.”
He told the court that Hay told him: “‘Say one more word and I’ll kill you.’
The witness added: “I felt threatened, I was shaking.”
Mr Jala said he told Hay he had not said anything.
I said: “I didn’t even say anything, what are you saying?” he said.
Mr Scobie told the court the incident happened after Mr Jala’s cousin, a boxing fan, asked Haye for an autograph but was refused.
He said Mr Jala and his cousin then discussed Haye’s career, mentioning fellow boxers Amir Khan and Tony Bellew, and referring to Haye injuring his toe in a fight.
Mr Scobie added that the talks were an attempt to get a “revival” from Hay.
“Putting him on his feet, trying to climb over him,” he said.
He said it was because Mr Jala’s cousin felt “disrespected” by Hay.
Mr Jala denied that his nephew had mentioned Tony Bellew before the incident, but admitted that he had brought Bellew up afterwards.
Haye has fought Tony Bellew twice in his professional career, losing both times in 2017 and 2018.
Mr Scobie told the court Mr Jala said of Haye’s girlfriend that “she should be with him” before his nephew replied “we have no chance”.
He added that Mr. Jala told his cousin that Haye’s girlfriend “must love brothers,” referring to black men.
“You made it clear that she must love brothers.”
It was after that alleged statement, Mr Scobie said, that Hay then approached Mr Jala.
“He puts his left hand on your right shoulder,” said Mr. Scobie.
He said Haye then told Mr Jala: “‘Don’t talk about me or my girlfriend anymore, that’s enough.’
“‘Otherwise I’ll kick you out.’
Mr. Jala rejected this version of events.
Mr Scobie said Hay brushed Mr Jala’s hair after sitting down.
Haye became a professional boxer at the age of 22 and became the world cruiserweight champion in 2008, winning three of the four major world titles.
The trial is ongoing.