'Strictly' dancer Johannes Radebe reveals he was once attacked with a baseball bat by homophobic bully

Johannes Radebe joined the Strictly Come Dancing team last year. (BBC / Guy Levy)

Strictly Come Dancing professional Johannes Radebe has divulged how he was once attacked by one of his peers with a baseball bat when he was 17.

While he was growing up in Zamdela, South Africa, the 32-year-old was subject to homophobic abuse and has now recounted the physical attack that "terrified" him.

“This happened in school, a fellow pupil. I was ­terrified," he told The Sun. "All I can remember was asking, ‘What have I done? What did I do to you?’ He said, ‘Well, you’re a f****t and disgusting’.

Read more: Mike Bushell's wife Emily speaks out against 'shocking' abuse following Strictly result

“We ended up physically fighting because when somebody comes at you with a baseball bat, I don’t think you can just stand there. It was more jealousy — I was never there at school as I was usually away ­dancing in competitions.

“He was not a fan of me — he was punishing me for the fact that I am what I am.”

Johannes Radebe attends the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet arrivals at Television Centre on August 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Radebe also opened up on how his Strictly experience in the UK has helped him become "accepting" of himself.

He shared: “I’ve always known. I’ve always been proud. I’ve always been myself, regardless of what was said to me and where I come from. I grew up in a country where homosexuality was frowned upon.

“The society around me pointed to me and said, ‘There’s something wrong with you.’ But Strictly has helped me be a better person and accepting of myself. When I got to the UK it was beautiful — for the first time in my life I felt liberated.”

Johannes Radebe was partnered with Catherine Tyldesley on Strictly. (BBC / Guy Levy)

Radebe and his celebrity dance partner Catherine Tyldesley were voted out of the competition in last night's result show, in a decision which shocked some, and the pair were overcome with emotion.

He declared: "The beautiful thing is that I need to thank Strictly Come Dancing for the opportunity…thank you. Most of all, I want to say thank you to this woman [Catherine]. She has been a light for me. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and for showing me joy every day. Thank you!”

The choreographer previously appeared on South Africa's version of Strictly before joining the UK show last year, although was not partnered with a celebrity in 2018.