Floyd Mayweather Jr. is perfect. Not as a human being of course, but his win/loss record as a professional prizefighter (42-0) is without stain or blemish. “HARD WORK! DEDICATION!”…is his motto and he apparently lives up to it. I’ve never seen any athlete talk so much trash and back it up so well. He has truly mastered the craft of boxing using quickness, defensive wizardry and intelligence to best all opponents. But, physical supremacy in sports is nothing new to the Black athlete. It is the intelligence outside of the ring that he and his business team are exhibiting that appears to be a threat to those that control the sport.
Brutal, but lucrative. Two adjectives that can be summed up in one word…BOXING. Known as “the hurt business”, it is an American sport that has generated billions, yet de-generated most of its athletes. While the quality of life of most boxers, mentally, physically and financially traditionally plummets, the quality of life of promoters and the executives who control the sport gets finer with time. While most boxers end up “broke and broken”, Mayweather, who intelligently rarely takes punishment in his fights, is on a quest to “break the bank” of boxing and, simply put, white folks ain’t too happy about it.
In Mayweather’s corner is a seldom-scene, Harvard-educated, brilliant businessman named Al Haymon. Haymon, also a major concert promoter, doesn’t take pictures and never speaks publicly but is the business genius behind Mayweather’s “40-50 million dollar per fight” paydays. At no time has any fighter taken home the kind of revenue that Floyd has. It is not that the revenue has not been generated in the past; it just usually ends up in the bank accounts of executives who “uppercut” professional fighters with draconian contracts before the first round of any fight. Subsequently most fighters end up “punch drunk” with bankruptcy, a mountain of medical bills and a lot of unreturned phone calls to their lawyers, promoter and accountants.
In the opposing corner is a Harvard-trained lawyer-turned boxing promoter named Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions. A tax attorney who worked in the Kennedy administration, Arum made the transition to the boxing arena in the 1960’s working with Muhammad Ali. He’s been around a long time and is somewhat of an ambassador for the sport. He is said to have control over much of the boxing media and its relationship to mainstream media. He has made millions as a promoter, yet has a reputation for being a shrewd, unfair businessman who rips off his fighters. Arum reportedly even admitting during a federal trial that he bribed the International Boxing Federation president in order to gain a more favorable rating for one of his fighters. He was penalized $125,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in 1995 for a bribe to get one of his fights sanctioned. Most of Arum’s fighters are Hispanic or Black. He, himself, is Jewish.
As the story is told, Top Rank Promotions was originally founded by the late Jabir (Herbert) Muhammad, the son of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Herbert partnered with Arum to form Top Rank; Arum being the attorney for the company. Legend has it that the company became lucrative and Arum eventually “finessed” Jabir out of the business and ended up owning it for himself. What many don’t know is that even the great promoter Don King had a Jewish backer by the name of Henry (Hank) Schwartz. In that day Jews controlled the closed-circuit satellites that were necessary to broadcast fights worldwide. Jewish control in boxing runs deeper that the naked eye can detect, because they usually hide behind Black or Hispanic promoters like Don King and the late Butch Lewis.
Floyd was a young champion in the stable of Bob Arum from 1996-2006. YouTube video footage from that period shows Arum promoting Mayweather as the best “complete fighter” since Muhammad Ali. When Floyd decided to break from the Jewish owned company and start his own he became somewhat of a villain to the Arum-controlled boxing media. He went from being praised by Arum to being accused of being afraid of certain fighters, including Manny Pacquiao who Arum promotes, also. As long as Mayweather was making millions for Arum he was the darling of the sport, but when he decided to become his own boss Arum tried to turn the boxing world against him.
Muhammad Ali, under the management of Jabir Muhammad, was the first Black fighter to understand his value and demand large sums of money in order to display his gift. Mayweather is doing the same, yet in an unprecedented fashion. While his legal issues indicate that the brother, like us all, has more work to do on himself personally I’m rooting for Mayweather and his team in their quest for domination inside and outside of the ring. Yes, I know he is a young brother with a big mouth. However, he is also a brother with a big heart whose charitable record in giving back to the Black community is as strong as his left hook yet hardly mentioned in the media.
It does my heart good to see brothers like Mayweather and Al Haymon join forces to take over a sport like boxing. I believe the Black NBA players and executives can learn a lot from what they’re attempting to do. You may have your mixed feelings about Floyd Mayweather. All I ask is that you take a look at the bigger picture. When he steps in the ring he’s alway facing a bigger opponent than the boxer in the other corner. He’s up against men like Bob Arum who see him as a threat to the Jewish chokehold on boxing. He’s up against the tradition in American sports that suggests that Black athletic talent should always be owned and controlled by White people.
It saddens me to see some our greatest champions end up in dire straits after making millions in the “squared circle.” We can blame some of it on executives, promoters and accountants but some of them probably just made some unwise investments and personal decisions, as well. The late-great Joe Louis ended up as a nightclub bouncer. Other greats like Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and an endless list of others ended up with little to nothing for themselves or their families. Ali, an international icon, may enjoy a decent quality of life financially but suffers from Parkinsons Disease. If Mayweather can retire from the sport in good health and with sound investments he will have defeated the odds that traditionally haunt Black boxers.
I say all Black up and coming champions should unite with Mayweather, Haymon and other Black promoters. Then all Black promoters should unite and pool their resources and expertise to create better opportunities for Black fighters. Too often, our fighters end up with slurred speech and bankrupt pockets, because their careers are handled by leeches that care nothing for them. Floyd Mayweather is setting a good example by taking the fight from inside of the ring to the outside. The way forward for all Black athletes is ownership through unity. Anything else will bring about consequences. Floyd Mayweather escaped the plantation is of white ownership and started doing for self. And for that he gets my respect.
Deric Muhammad is an accomplished Houston-based Activist/Organizer who addresses issues on social justice, Black male development, police brutality, racial inequality and other critical topics. Muhammad hosts an annual “Smart’n Up” Black Male Summit and has launched Project FORWARD, a Black male initiative focused on stopping inner-city violence and creating economic development. Muhammad has been seen on local and national television addressing many issues faced by Black people. He recently released his first self-published book – A.S.A.P. (A Street Activists Perspective) and his writings have been published in many newspapers.