Welsh Conservative MP David Davies, who over the weekend suggested most parents would prefer their children “not to be gay”, has dismissed accusations that he is a homophobe by reminding people of his participation in an amateur boxing match against a gay fighter.

The New Statesman reports the Monmouth MP tweeted a video of his 2008 match against Charles “The Pink Pounder” Jones on Sunday.

Mr Davies said on Twitter: “Once fought gay boxer. Respect & like.trained with after bout so not bigoted. actvists calm down- listen to other views.”

Earlier, on the same day 19 senior Tories launched a campaign group aiming to legalise marriage equality, Mr Davies told BBC Wales that the Conservative Party was at risk of losing a “large number of very loyal activists” if it went ahead with the plans.

He then mentioned gay children in his argument and said: “I think most people are very tolerant and have no problem at all if people are gay but, and I hate to say this in a way because I expect it’s going to cause controversy, but I think most parents would prefer their children not to be gay, knowing most parents want grandchildren if nothing else.”

Mr Davies had previously seemed supportive of equal marriage and in March this year wrote a letter to the chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, Ben Summerskill.

In the letter, the MP said: “I do not believe the state should prevent gay couples getting married in a church, or elsewhere, if the church is happy to carry out such a ceremony. However, I also believe the state should not force churches into a position where they have to do this if they don’t wish to”.

The reason for Mr Davies’ apparent U-turn remains unclear as his remarks in the letter reflects the government’s current position.

Meanwhile, former PM Sir John Major has thrown his support behind same-sex marriages in churches and says David Cameron’s backing of the reform is “genuine”.