Society is sending the wrong message by cheering for Mayweather

What does it say about our society that Floyd Mayweather is the highest paid athlete in the world?1

What does it say about our society that millions of people paid $100 each to watch Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight?1

Even if you don’t think boxing is a violent sport, there’s no question that Mayweather is a violent man – he has spent time in jail for one instance of domestic battery (and plead guilty), though the allegations of violence against women are plentiful2. He has defended National Foorball League (NFL) player Ray Rice who was caught on video punching his then-fiancée (now wife) in the face…Men who beat up women and defend other men who beat up women — is this the kind of role modelling our children need?

The data is unclear whether violent sports lead to more off-field violence3, but in a 2010 paper published in Harvard’s Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law, Bethany Withers wrote, “there is evidence that professional athletes are not punished by the leagues, teams, or criminal justice system as harshly or consistently as their general public counterparts. For example, in 1995, domestic violence cases involving athletes resulted in a thirty-six percent conviction rate, as compared to seventy-seven percent for the general public.” So, writes Anna North, “while the attention, money, and power that Goll cites may not make athletes more violent, these factors may well help them get away with violence.”4

Two female reporters also allege that they were blocked from the Mayweather fight because of their reporting on Mayweather’s history of domestic violence.2

This police statement by Mayweather’s son Koraun5 is chilling, and has gone viral while many of us are asking: Why are we celebrating men who beat up women and children? Why all the media hype and promotion of a person with such a history of abuse? Why turn someone like Mayweather into any kind of an icon? Why does media profit overshadow the truths of violence and contribute to the violent society we live in and the violence that is role modeled to our children?

On average at least one in three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner in the course of her lifetime.5

What does it say about how society thinks about this when millions of people around the world cheer for a violent man, with a history of abuse, being violent, and help make him the highest paid athlete in the world?

— by Czerina Patel
Czerina Patel is Sonke Gender Justice’s Manager of Communications & Strategic Information