Is Floyd Mayweather Racist?

Joseph Santoliquito@@JSantoliquitoContributor IIApril 24, 2012

Floyd Mayweather feels fans dislike him because he's black and successful
Floyd Mayweather feels fans dislike him because he's black and successfulChris Trotman/Getty Images

Floyd Mayweather believes you hate him. “Money May” feels you, the boxing fan, hate him because he’s black and wealthy. With the emphasis on black. Sure, there are probably those out there that do dislike Mayweather because of his race, a scant, small ignorant percentage that have no excuse for their base, trailer-park myopic mentality.

You don't need to probe that deeply to guess why Mayweather isn’t the most huggable fighter. How about the fact Mayweather doesn’t endear himself to too many sports fans because of his antics and behavior, probably the core reason why most really disdain the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.

Not because of his race.

In his one-on-one sit down with brilliant Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson on the HBO special "Floyd Mayweather: Speaking Out" last weekend, Mayweather was asked why people perceive him as “racist.” Dyson asked Mayweather, “Why do they call you racist, what is the claim, what is the basis, what’s the evidence to suggest that Floyd Mayweather is racist?”

Dyson and the HBO people seemed to somehow forget Mayweather’s clarion public moment in September 2010, when he went on a Manny Pacquiao rant spewing into the camera:

“As soon as we come off vacation, we’re going to cook that little yellow chump … Once I kick the midget ass, I don’t want you all to jump on my d---. So you all better get on the bandwagon now ... Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make that mother f----- make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice … we’re going to cook him with some cats and dogs.”

Mayweather was sentenced in January to 90 days in jail.
Mayweather was sentenced in January to 90 days in jail.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Those harmful, hateful words still resonate.

Mayweather wanted to gloss over being dressed down in January by Clark County Judge Melissa A. Saragosa (which Dyson did address) recounting how one night an “11-year-old child had to jump over a gate in the backyard and run over to a security station in order to protect his mother from what was
happening … because there were threats to kill her, threats to make her disappear and things could have gotten even more out of hand than what they did … that no matter who you are there are consequences to your actions that are appropriate when this level of violence is inflicted.”

Mayweather told Dyson, “I’m outspoken. If I have an opinion on something, I speak my mind.”

Mayweather’s free flowing thoughts stirred more national attention back in February, when he tweeted, “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all of the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise”—5:24 am 14 Feb. 12.

Then Mayweather tried rationalizing that to Dyson, saying, “Because I stand by black Americans first...but it’s okay for every country to come over here to America, bring their flag and wave it high and support their own. Is it a crime to support black Americans first?"

There’s nothing wrong with that. Mayweather is correct. Where his argument falls apart comes from all the past stains that won’t go away. He said something very cryptic in his conversation with Dyson, “I never raised my hands to my children. I got four beautiful children and I love them dearly.”

Money May sees himself in the same category as "The Greatest."
Money May sees himself in the same category as "The Greatest."Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Mayweather never denied raising his hands to the mother of his children.

Great leaders and trailblazing men in history, like President Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, were evoked during the Dyson interview with Mayweather. But President Obama, Ali, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King were never arrested for hitting a woman, nor did they ever throw invective like “yellow chump” around, nor ever toss around references about any ethnic group like “a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”

Is Floyd Mayweather a racist? In all fairness to him, probably not. I’ve been with Floyd many, many times, especially early in his career. When he’s relaxed, when he’s comfortable in a familiar setting, there honestly may not be a brighter star on the sports landscape today than Money May. He’s engaging. He’s funny. But the smiling, precocious young man that I first met 15 years ago is gone. Has he changed? Yes, absolutely. Money, fame, all the peripheral trappings can do that. He got caught up in “the life.” But does he have a selective memory when it comes to what he’s said in the past and the careful political tightrope he now walks? Yes.

As for your opinion whether or not Mayweather is a racist? That’s for you to decide. He has a rainbow coalition working for him, though in private settings, his words and actions cannot be ignored, like the glaring Pacquiao tirade that got somehow shoved aside in the HBO special. Somehow missed. Somehow forgotten.

When Dyson broached the subject of Pacquiao, and Mayweather brought up the pending defamation lawsuit “Pac-Man” has against him, this again was pushed aside, with Mayweather’s flippant comment, “You know, trash talking.” Allegedly accusing someone of taking illegal drugs, as Mayweather has suggested a number of times with Pacquiao and steroids, it goes a little deeper than, “You know, trash talking.”

Mayweather's 2010 rant against Pacquiao still resonates.
Mayweather's 2010 rant against Pacquiao still resonates.Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Wonder why?

Mayweather is a great fighter. But placing Mayweather up there with Ali, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, outspoken all when the demand to speak out was great during a turbulent, racially incendiary time? No, Mayweather’s not on that pantheon. Not with them.

It isn’t the fleet of luxury cars Mayweather has for every day of the week that’s turned fans off on him. Who cares about his gambling habits? There is a reason why you don’t see Mayweather in major commercials. Like Judge Saragosa told Mayweather, there are consequences to your actions.

“I’m in the same shoes as Ali, they hate me when I’m at the top, but once my career is over, they’re going to miss me,” Mayweather told Dyson.

Will fans really miss him? Is Mayweather in the same shoes as Ali, when blacks and whites weren’t able to move on the same sidewalk together in Jim Crow-era Louisville, Kentucky?

An amazing talent, yes. A victim and spokesman for racial injustice and voice of a generation of athletes…you decide.