Boxing Match a Sad Social Commentary

Promotional image for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor bout

Promotional image for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor bout
The recent match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor was heralded as the greatest sports spectacle in modern times. Mayweather, a recently retired, undefeated world boxing champion, was pitted against McGregor, the top draw in Mixed Martial Arts fighting. But unlike the 1976 bout between Muhammed Ali and Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki which was billed as an “exhibition”, the Mayweather/McGregor contest was hyped as a serious fight between two warriors from two different ends of the pugilistic spectrum.

Experts gave McGregor no chance of winning because he would be constrained by strict rules of boxing, and unable to wrestle or kick his opponent. But MMA fans held out hope that the scrappy Irishman would prevail despite the limitations put on him. In the end, McGregor lasted ten rounds before the fight was called, but the MMA champ claimed he could have gone the distance, leading conspiracy theorists to speculate about the contest having been fixed. Regardless, Mayweather not only walked away with a “victory”, he also walked away with $300 million dollars for 28 minutes work. $100 million of that was for just showing up, and $200 million was from his percentage of the pay per view profits. Meanwhile McGregor took home some $30 million dollars for his losing effort. Promoters also made an obscene amount of money, most of which came from fans who shelled out $100 apiece to watch the fight at home.

I don’t have a problem with fans paying to watch a boxing match, but I do have a problem when fans help to enable the criminal behavior of the combatants. Let’s start with Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather came to the fight with numerous arrests under his belt, all involving violent assaults, and most involving spousal abuse. In 2002, for example, he repeatedly punched his baby mama in the face, for which he received a six month suspended sentence, and was ordered to perform 48 hours of community service. In 2004 he was found guilty of assaulting two friends of his other baby mama. That time, Mayweather received a one year suspended sentence, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. In 2005 he was charged with beating a bouncer who worked at a bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For that Floyd received a 90 day suspended sentence. Later that same year he was arrested for allegedly beating his ex-wife Josie Harris (baby mama #2), but the charges were dropped during trial when Ms. Harris recanted her testimony, presumably so she wouldn’t get beaten again. If so, her strategy didn’t work, because several years later Mayweather attacked her again, this time in front of their kids. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $2,500 fine. He was released after 60 days. It seems that Mr. Mayweather just can’t keep his lethal hands off of women, and never seems to show remorse for his actions.

Speaking of showing no remorse, that brings me to Conor McGregor. Though the volatile Irishman has never been arrested for criminal battery, he is guilty of racist behavior and repeated incidents of hate speech. That behavior escalated leading up to the Mayweather fight. At one point he shouted to his opponent, “Dance for me boy.” Then during a news conference, McGregor told Mayweather’s daughter to , “sing it for me beautiful yaya,” a derogatory word sometimes used to refer to an African nanny, or to describe a woman’s private parts.   And while being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel, McGregor referenced the film “Rocky III”, and said, “Was that the one with the dancing monkeys?”  Then, after the fight he told reporters that he had “turned Mayweather into a Mexican.”

So there you have it. A boxing match took place between a wife beater and a racist, and millions of Americans paid to watch it. In so doing, those millions of Americans tacitly condoned the physical abuse and hate speech that these two so-called men have committed on a regular basis. Spousal abuse is a heinous act, and the perpetrators should not be rewarded in any fashion, yet that’s what many of us did. And, ironically, the big fight took place on the heels of a race riot in Virginia, which resulted in the death of three people, and a demand for all  monuments to slavery be torn down. Yet, many of the same people who called for an end to violence and racism, helped to bankroll a high profile fight featuring a violent spousal abuser and a flaming racist.

Judge Deborah Lippis, who presided over one of Mayweather’s trials, told the boxer, “You may be a terrific and famous fighter, but that doesn’t make you a god.” Maybe so, but last week, millions of fans tithed generously to two gods – one who stands for domestic abuse and the other who stands for racism. Without our financial support, these two despicable men wouldn’t have even climbed into the ring. As it is, we have made them richer and more heroic than ever before, and signaled to them that their behavior is acceptable. I don’t know why it is that Americans worship athletes, but if we’re determined to elevate these men to god-like status, the least we can do is be more selective in the gods we choose to support.

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