A Woman was left feeling saddened that our culture of celebrity worship has bestowed heroic status on Floyd Mayweather, and given precious little attention to people he has hurt.
I have studied boxing from the perspective of a woman being initiated and integrated into the sport as a fan. I have learned that boxing is full of outstanding young men and women, who honor their families, their countries and themselves with the hard work, tenacity and the gutty spirit it takes to be a fighter. What’s not to love about all that?
My previous columns amounted in effect to endorsements of the sport. Like all sports, boxing has its share of good guys and bad guys. It certainly has its share of those who have dallied on the wrong side of the law. Some of them have been guests of state prison systems. I have great respect for men like Bernard Hopkins, who have paid for their misdeeds against society and have come out dedicated to excellence.
I found myself pondering all of this as I watched the May 4 weigh-in for the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. The state of Nevada allowed Floyd to postpone serving a jail term so he could fight Miguel and earn a reported minimum purse of $32 million. Hundreds of local school children and their teachers and parents filed into the arena to watch the weigh-in spectacle. These beautiful children and their teachers and parents cheered for Floyd, their hometown hero, the world’s most highly regarded competitive prizefighter, and worshipped at the feet of his unbeaten record.
If they had watched or read only the promotional hype leading up to the fight, it would be easy to understand why their adulation was directed his way. As HBO’s 24/7 has made clear over and over these past few years, Floyd is close to unbeatable in the ring, earns so much money that he can literally throw it around to get attention, and lives a life so free that he thinks nothing of spouting the vilest profanities and insults imaginable, sometimes in front of his very young children. As any in his entourage might observe with a grin, “It’s all good.”
I don’t think that it’s all good.
It bothered me to watch as impressionable children were led in chanting and cheering for Floyd by their parents and teachers. Is his money so good that not one adult among them bothered to hold a hand aloft and, in a single moment of cautionary thought, point out that Floyd just recently pled guilty to assaulting the mother of his own children right before their eyes?
I can understand a child’s glee in seeing an undefeated athlete in person. But is Floyd really the type of person these parents and teachers want to hold out as a role model for their children?
In the wake of Mayweather vs. Cotto, almost everyone is talking about Floyd. Some even talk about the fact that he is about to go to jail.But who is talking about his victims?
After a long line of arrests and citations for domestic violence, battery against women, and other charges– many of which resulted in fines, time served and/or community service– Floyd Mayweather is finally going to jail. But HBO devotes massive amounts of airtime allowing him to assert that he is guilty of nothing and merely copped a plea to spare his children the stress of a trial. Other media outlets pay similar homage. And those around him glorify him for this. When will there be a voice for Josie Harris or any of Floyd’s other victims?
Just once, I would like to fill an arena with young girls and boys of all ages and have the victims of the crimes which Floyd has been found guilty of in court, appear and speak. I would like to give the victims lighting and make-up and the benefit of being interviewed by a renowned college professor while being accompanied by pop and hip-hop stars. I would like to help Floyd’s victims suggest to our children how to not be victims of violence and how to not be violators.
Floyd received endless hours of media attention that served to puff him up. It might have looked good on TV. But to me, it looked like a bad moment for the sport I have grown to love. If you can’t bring an end to painfully bad ringside scoring or unfortunate mismatches, why not clean this up?Stop glorifying common criminals in the eyes of impressionable young fans who don’t yet know enough to be disillusioned? Boxing and the media should not glorify the criminal until he has actually gone to jail, paid his debt to his victims and society, and shown some remorse.