The sports world, and much of the nation, is preparing for the much-anticipated Aug. 26 fight between Connor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. Count me out.
The match embodies America on steroids. Steeped in racism, sexism, homophobia and violence, it’s a fight shaped by capitalism and narratives of “rugged individualism.”
In many ways, the fight is a metaphor symbolizing the ills of this nation. Confronting these realities daily, especially in the era of “45” and in a post-Charlottesville moment, it is all too exhausting. And promoters want me, and fans, to pay for a spectacle that embodies the sins and plagues of the nation? Nope.
As Mayweather shadowboxed during a promotional event for the August fight, McGregor shouted, “Dance for me, boy.” Soon after, during a discussion of the Rocky films on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, McGregor offered the following take on Rocky III, “[T]hat’s the one where he had that celebrity gym isn’t it? With the dancing monkeys in the gym and all.” Clearly referencing when Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) teamed up with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to train at a predominantly Black Los Angeles gym, McGregor, who also referred to Mayweather as a “bitch” and “a good kid,” is recycling the longstanding racist playbook of boxing and America. Mayweather responded to McGregor’s racist rhetoric by calling him a “bi**h,” “ho,” fa***t” and “gay.”
The fight and the promotional tour, which Khaled A. Beydoun at The Undefeated described as “a cesspool and circus of bigotry,” like Donald Trump and the GOP since 1968, is seeking to cash in on racial dog whistles, on white America’s longstanding search for “the Great white hope;” it is trafficking in white supremacist ideologies, homophobia, and misogyny. “McGregor and Mayweather are toying with centuries of prejudice that have led to immeasurable hardships and countless deaths,” writes LZ Granderson. “All to make a profit.” This is America, where sexism, homophobia, and racism sells, where it can make you rich or allow you to become president.
It is also a nation where accountability for domestic violence remains as illusive as justice for its victims. Mayweather has a history of intimate partner violence. As noted by Lindsey Gibbs in Fansided, he has been convicted of domestic violence on five separate occasions. According to Deadspin, there are seven documented cases of physical violence against five different women, which led to arrest or citation, have surfaced over more than a decade. “Floyd Mayweather is a misogynist. And not just a misogynist, but a batterer, and a serial batterer at that,” Daniel Roberts wrote at Deadspin. “This is a statement of fact that you will rarely see or hear from the professional boxing media, many of whom remain hopelessly dependent on the reigning box office king’s goodwill for access.”
In 2010, Mayweather beat his then girlfriend Josie Harris in front of their children, resulting in a paltry 60-day jail sentence. Their youngest son told police, according to Gibbs: “He was punching her and kicking her. He was punching her in the head and he was stomping on her sholder (sic).” It has been reported that the brutal attack followed Mayweather discovering direct messages between Harris and the Warriors’ C.J. Watson.
With the exception of McGregor, the silence about his history of domestic violence has been equally noticeable, if not worse, in 2017. And McGregor is clearly not on the side of justice. He has used Mayweather’s history of domestic violence as a punch line, and as a means of promoting the fight.
On Instagram, he posted a picture of himself wearing a Golden State Warriors “23” jersey, which was once worn by C.J. Watson, who reportedly had online conversations with Harris, Mayweather’s then girlfriend. He also tweeted a cartoon of his standing over Mayweather in victory with caption “call me C.J. Watson.”
While some have described this as “trolling,” this is what misogyny, a culture of intimate partner violence, looks like. In a culture that both blames domestic violence victims and victimizes over and over again, which doesn’t hold men accountable, which profits off the suffering of women, particularly Black women, the fight is a microcosm of America. In a society where one in four women are victims of domestic violence, and results in two million injuries and 1,300 deaths, a fight between Mayweather and McGregor is both a sad and inconvenient reminder of the values of the nation.
This is a fight where racism, sexism, and homophobia have been used as central to the marketing plan—where the current racial climate and the history of racial animus are at the core.
In one corner you have a man who has a history of domestic violence; and the other corner you have a man who shows little concern for the victim, about her pain, all while leveraging this history of violence for his financial gain.
In one corner you have a man who has promoted the fight through racism and misogyny, through the crudest vision of masculinity; and in the other you have a serial abuser whose sexism and homophobia has been on full display.
This is America. Their fight is an American display of accepted and celebrated forms of violence where fists are used to bash competitors’ bodies and the psyches of the various groups of people they have insulted with their words. As all too many are resisting, organizing and rightfully demanding changes throughout this nation, I have no desire to normalize, support, and pay for more of the same.