FLOYD MAYWEATHER, MCGREGOR, AND WRONG MORALS
Written by Shekinah Mondoua
It could have been all so simple; two of the biggest names in combat sports today, who are also two of the most arrogant athletes in the world, were engaging in a worldwide tour to help promote one of the most anticipated bouts in recent history. Floyd Mayweather was going to throw his money around and remind everybody he’s been in this position before and he’ll come out on top, while Conor McGregor was going to drop F-bombs to his heart’s content, much like he has done all his career. It was all going to be so simple, except it wasn’t.
The Mayweather-McGregor world tour has concluded, but it was problematic from the very beginning. And while each day bears its own highlight, the most interesting day for me was the third press conference where Floyd made his viral statement, “racism still exists.”
Seldom do I find myself agreeing with Mr. Mayweather, but in a country filled with racism in various forms, he’s right. As the people begin to gain consciousness day-by-day, we are understanding how capitalism is inexplicably linked with white supremacy, how imperialism destroys the lives of black and brown people across the globe, and how racism operates systemically in our black lives. So, I have no problem with a black man pointing out the fact that racism exists. It absolutely does. But what I do have a problem with, is the history behind the man who is saying that racism still exists.
Let’s make one thing clear: If you are looking to rally behind somebody in this bout due to identity, then this fight is not for you. Both individuals have their issues, especially Conor McGregor. First and foremost, let’s not sugarcoat anything and just acknowledge that McGregor is a racist, whether he understands this to be true or not. And not a racist in the sense where people can only interpret racism unless it is a white person calling a black person the n-word; McGregor is a racist in the sense where he allows privilege, arrogance, and power to create the insensitive, oblivious being that he is. McGregor is a racist in the idea that he does not “see color” because he is not obliged too, which makes him more prone to make bigoted statements like calling Nate Diaz, a “little Cholo gangster from the hood.” Or when he told Brazilian fighter Jose Aldo that he would invade his favela on a horseback and “kill anyone that was not fit to work.”
So Floyd’s “racism still exist” comment is not far off, considering his opponent is indeed racist. But his comments weren’t necessarily targeted towards McGregor’s character, or McGregor’s choice of words when he told Floyd to “dance for me boy.” But it was more-so targeted towards the media and the public. In the press conference, Floyd noted how his use of the flashy, arrogant, pretty-boy gimmick got him excessively scrutinized and made him one of the most hated athletes in the world. But in the era where McGregor is now arguably the face of combat sports, his use of that same gimmick which got Floyd scrutinized is what is getting him praised. Which is nothing less than people’s hatred for confident black athletes.
I agree with Floyd for essentially calling out what is white privilege. However, I do not agree with how Floyd can only detect racism when it only works against him and his profession. When comrade Colin Kaepernick took his stand against the injustices of America by electing to kneel during the national anthem, many were moved, and while many praised Kap for such a brave stance, many condemned him. One of those being Floyd “money” Mayweather. In an interview with The Boxing Voice from October 2016, Floyd Mayweather had taken his stance on the Kaepernick situation by saying “All lives matter.” Floyd said that some people fall victim to becoming followers and therefore commence saying stuff like “Black lives matter” or “Blue lives matter.” He also said that Kaepernick should be directing his energy to “stand up and get the starting job.”
Floyd is clearly out of touch with the struggles between the black community and the police, and a lot of that derives from the platform that he has rightfully earned but has deluded his insight towards the struggles facing the oppressed.
A clear example of this past statement of Floyd’s regarding police relations with the people:
“What I learned from boxing — what everyone can take in real life — is follow directions and follow order. Don’t give nobody a hard time. When someone breaks in your house, when someone breaks in your car, the first thing you do is call the police. With me being a fighter, and my hands being registered, if I hit a guy for breaking in my house or break in my car, it’s going to cost me more money. So I have to work smarter not harder. I’m gonna call the cops.”
I understand how Floyd meant for his quote to be interpreted. The sport of boxing is not short on discipline; it is all about obedience to the game plan, strategy, and precise technique. For Floyd to compare the people’s compliance to the police, to his obedience to boxing is not a surprise, considering it is Floyd’s obedience to boxing that has made him the current 49-0, multi-millionaire fighter we know him to be, however, because Floyd is so disassociated with the struggles of the working class and its battle with the oppressive tactics of the police, such ignorance poised him to make such an insensitive comment. Floyd believes compliance is better than resistance, and that is the typical mindset of a man with his class privilege exhibits. When Floyd calls out racism in the case of McGregor’s comments, it just shows how Floyd only believes racism exists and is worth calling out when it deliberately affects his life. Which under no circumstances does that qualify for truly understanding how racism operates.
And Floyd Mayweather wants to talk about the privilege McGregor has, and claim that this privilege he exudes is one of the things “we don’t see?"
The “things that we don’t see” is Floyd’s long history of domestic violence where he abused his former long-term partner Josie Harris, and has also been on the back end of seven alleged assaults that Floyd has committed against five different women. If Floyd wants to talk about privilege, then he must acknowledge the privilege this patriarchal society has given him that allows us to avail Floyd as one of the greatest boxers of all-time and not the appalling woman-beater that he is. Floyd wants to talk about the “things that we don’t see?” Well, how can a person so supposedly enlightened not realize the insensitivity of calling McGregor a “faggot,” not understanding that many of our brothers and sisters would take offense to such rhetoric as they are members of the LGBTQ community?
Floyd decided to fight racism with homophobia, which absolutely makes no sense. And to bring things full-circle, McGregor defended Floyd’s use of the slur by saying “people are so touchy on words” and “the fight game is a ruthless business.”
It kills me when Floyd says ‘racism is being used against me’ because it seems reminiscent of OJ Simpson. A man who had never identified with black people through their trying times, and only decided to identify with us when it was convenient for him. As a sports fan, I just wanted an entertaining world tour, but what we got instead was a friendly reminder of how out of touch most world class athletes are with the oppression based on race, gender, and sexuality that average people face. Which, because of class and capitalism, is unfortunately somewhat inevitable.
In the event of Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor on August 26th, you are a fool to find yourself trying to identify with one of these athletes on the grounds of which one is morally better, or on the basis of identity. Both athletes are extremely problematic. By no means am I saying to not order the PPV, invite some friends over, enjoy the talented card that the show will present you, and witness this historic night. Aside from wanting to see whether or not Floyd becomes 50-0, or if Conor McGregor actually pulls off the improbable, there really is nobody to support. And if you do decide to fanatically support one of these athletes, you most certainly have some reflecting to do.