Former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield is facing a backlash from Celebrity Big Brother viewers after saying that being gay “ain’t normal”.

Holyfield was disciplined by Channel 5 following a conversation he had about the lack of openly gay sports stars.

Luisa Zissman, runner-up on last year’s Apprentice, was seen telling Holyfield: “I think it’s really bad that no one stands up and says it in the sports industry.”

Holyfield, who famously had part of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson, asked her: “What would be good about it?”

When Zissman replied: “I think it’s good to be open like that because it’s normal”, Holyfield said: “But that ain’t normal.”

The American attempted to explain his comment by saying “the Bible lets you know there’s wrong, there’s right”.

Zissman, 26, said: “That’s just the way some people are born.”

Holyfield replied: “It don’t make no difference. If you’re born and your leg were turned this way, what do you do? You go to a doctor and get it fixed back right.”

The entrepreneur repeatedly urged the retired boxer to change the subject, telling him: “I don’t think this is an appropriate conversation to have in this house.”

Holyfield was then ordered to the Diary Room where he was told by the programme-makers: “Before you entered the Big Brother house the rules regarding unacceptable language and behaviour were explained to you.

“Last night in a conversation with Luisa you expressed the view that being gay was not normal and that it could be fixed.

“While Big Brother understands these are the views you hold, they aren’t the views that are held by a large section of society, and expressing these views will be extremely offensive to many people.

“Do you understand why?”

Holyfield replied: “Yes I understand why. I thought I was just, I forgot about the thing. I was just telling her my opinion but it’s not like I was going to mention (it) to anybody else. It was just our conversation.”

Many people have called for Holyfield to be thrown out of the house.

Singer Boy George tweeted: “Shame, I had such admiration for Mr Evander Holyfield, he seemed dignified and I was sure he was a cool, smart, giant!”

According to the London Evening Standard, Big Brother’s Bit on the Side presenter Rylan Clark voiced his ‘disgust’ at Holyfield’s comments but later deleted his post on Twitter.

It read: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion… And as a presenter I legally remain unbiased. However what Evander just said, was disgusting.”

He later wrote: “And now I’ve said my piece, on with the rest of the series. Each to their own x.”