Andrew Tate, one of 2022’s most controversial celebrities, was reportedly arrested along with his brother and two other suspects in Romania on Friday for allegations of creating “an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost”, the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) said in a statement. But who is the man behind the headlines? Express.co.uk takes a look at what we know.
Emory Andrew Tate III was born in Washington DC to an African-American father and a British mother. His father, Emory Tate, was a chess International Master and his mother a catering assistant. He has one brother, Tristan.
According to snippets offered by Tate in recent years, he lived in Chicago as a young child before relocating to Indiana and eventually Luton, his mother’s English home town, after his parent’s divorce.
From an early age, Tate appears to have been eager to make a name for himself. He played chess competitively from the age of five, even competing in adult tournaments as a youngster.
But it was in 2005, when he was around the age of 20, that his star began to rise in the world of kickboxing.
The US-born Briton became the seventh-highest-ranked heavyweight kickboxer in Britain by 2008, and a year later won his first championship, earning the British ISKA Full Contact Cruiserweight Championship title – and with it the number one rank in Europe for his division.
Two years later his first ISKA world title was secured and in 2012 he was ranked the second-best light-heavyweight kickboxer on the planet.
He soon retired from combat sports, though he made numerous comebacks across the years that followed, including most recently in 2020 with three victories. But by then, other opportunities had come knocking – namely as a contestant on the reality TV show Big Brother.
His spell in the Big Brother house in 2016 was short-lived as Tate’s taste for controversy began to take shape in the public eye, building into what would become a staggering reach of influence and a widespread attempt to reduce his online reach.
The fighter came under heavy scrutiny when some controversial tweets resurfaced, followed by the emergence of a video which showed Tate appearing to strike a woman with a belt, leading to his removal from the show after just six days. Tate would later claim after his ejection that the woman in the video was actually a friend, and the actions were consensual.
In the years that followed, it would be on social media that Tate gained notoriety – and, increasingly, an enormous backlash, with media companies and platforms all falling in line to ban him from their sites as he continued to air his often extreme views online.
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Tate’s views have been viewed with concern by domestic abuse charities, who have raised the risk of popular influencers capable of radicalising men and boys to commit harm offline. On TikTok alone, his videos had been viewed more than 11 billion times before he was eventually banned.
His comments earned him bans from other platforms too, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. His Twitter ban was overturned in November after Tesla owner Elon Musk purchased the company.
Google, which owns YouTube, said of Tate’s ban in August: “We terminated channels associated with Andrew Tate for multiple violations of our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, including our hate speech policy. If a channel is terminated, the uploader is unable to use, own or create any other YouTube channels.” Prior to his ban, Tate’s YouTube channels had more than one million followers.
In a report for the BBC, Marianna Spring, a disinformation and social media correspondent for the broadcaster, reflected on how Tate’s videos came to prominence this year, “with many teens commenting on just how much he’s appearing on their social media feeds”.
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The reporter said: “His content has raised concerns about the real-world effect it could have, especially on the younger users exposed to it during their school holidays when they have time on their hands.
“The focus has been primarily on TikTok, where users say they’ve been readily served up his videos – sparking a new wave of videos commenting on and criticising Mr Tate’s content. YouTube has also found itself under pressure, since it’s where he has racked up millions of views.”
She added: “Since then, several sites have made commitments to better protect female users. But, once again, questions are being raised about the role social media sites play in pushing anti-women content.”
One woman famously labelled him online as “the scariest man on the internet” earlier in 2022, as stories began to emerge from young women about partners beginning to spout similar theories after watching Tate’s content.
Joe Mulhall, director of research at UK advocacy group Hope Not Hate, said Tate “poses a genuine threat to young men, radicalising them towards extremism misogyny, racism and homophobia”.
Most recently, Tate became involved in a virtual spat with teenage climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, 19, tweeting about the amount of carbon-emitting automobiles he owned, asking the activist for her email address so he could give her more information on them.
Her reply, which gave Tate a rude email to reply to, became one of Twitter’s top 10 most liked tweets of all time, and came hours before his arrest in Romania.