So when I bring it back to what Floyd is saying, I'm sure along the line that he has experienced it. Whether he hears people" />


By Ben Thompson | January 12, 2016

"So when I bring it back to what Floyd is saying, I'm sure along the line that he has experienced it. Whether he hears people making comments about the way his uncle speaks or his dad speaks. People have made fun on camera about their speech impediment. Both of them have been called crackheads by fans and media alike. There are people in the media right now that show open disdain for Floyd," stated world-class trainer Virgil Hunter, who shared his thoughts on Floyd Mayweather's comments about racism in boxing. Check it out!

BT: Virgil, as you know, Floyd Mayweather recently made some comments regarding racism in boxing. He really focused on Andre Ward and some of the treatment he's gotten in comparison to Gennady Golovkin. What were your thoughts when you saw or heard what he said?

VH: Well, I felt that unless you are in his shoes and experience what he has along his journey, then one really wouldn't understand. I think what he was trying to convey is that some questions that are asked of some are not asked of others. Me personally, I think the Ward-Golovkin fight would've been a huge treat for the fans because you always have this statement, whether it be from the media, networks, or whatever, that the fans matter. I agree, fans matter and fans have been clamoring for this fight ever since GGG showed up on the scene. What really stimulated the fans' interest in that particular fight is when he said that he would fight anybody from 160 to 168. This statement was made by his coach, I believe, and his promoter and manager, so when that statement was made, of course that opened up the door for a Ward-Golovkin fight. I really believe the fans should have had an opportunity to see that fight. I have the utmost respect for Gennady Golovkin and I believe that he's everything that they say he is. [Abel] Sanchez had done a remarkable job with him, K2 [Promotions] has done a remarkable job with him, and the accolades that he's getting, he's deserving of those accolades, but I think the networks could have worked out that fight since that statement was made and then you can ask Andre Ward to move up to light heavyweight to fight a Kovalev.

This is fight that everywhere I go, everywhere Andre goes; I think every time [Tom] Loeffler has a mic in his face, every time Sanchez has a mic in his face, Andre Ward's name comes up. Every time there's a mic in my face and every time there's a mic in Andre's face, Gennady Golovkin's name comes up, so there is definitely a huge fan interest in the fight. The only thing that kind of disappoints me is the reasons why Loeffler and Sanchez said that they couldn't do the fight. They made it a financial thing. I think anybody in boxing knows that a Ward-Golovkin fight would've made Golovkin way more money than he made fighting [David] Lemieux. It definitely would have brought in way more pay-per-view numbers than that fight. From a business perspective, I don't think that they were accurate, so the fans are deprived of that fight and we move on. In the meantime, Gennady has to sit back and try to find the right person to bring his notoriety to the top where there's no question about his greatness. As long as he's going along like he is, yes, you have to succumb to his punch, you have to succumb to his skills, you have to concede to his punch, and you have to concede to his skills, but what really lies in him and what really lies in Andre Ward, you don't get to see that because at this point in time, there's nobody to bring it out in him. There's no one who can bring that level of intensity out in him, so I think everyone was shorted. The fans, the fighters, the trainers, everybody that would have been involved was shorted that that fight never happened.

BT: When Floyd talked about racism in boxing, I think some media outlets missed his message. He wasn't talking about fans being racist when it comes to liking him. What he was talking about was people in the industry being racist. In other words, the movers and shakers in the industry; the people that have the power to make decisions, like network executives, and the people that have the ability to control the narrative, like the media. When it comes to the people inside the boxing industry, do you think there's any truth to Floyd's comments?

VH: Well, you know what, Ben? I'm a product of an activist family. I lived long enough before the Civil Rights Movement came along and of course I'm alive after it. Before the Civil Rights Movement, I personally experienced it, whether it be from the Oakland police department or whether it be from teachers at school. I'll give you a great example. My father was in the Navy and he was on an aircraft carrier. I love aircraft carriers and I used to build them and I used to draw them; the whole bit. In the second grade, I was drawing them and I was building them and I remember one teacher put in her remarks that I had a strange fascination for ships. Now, why would my fascination be strange? I loved ships. My mother actually went to the school and corrected her on her statement because it was obvious that she made the statement without thinking.

A lot of times, people are programmed in a way to think that you're not supposed to think this way or you're not supposed to have this available to you. There are people that are born into this world and they learn from a very early age that this is meant to be for me. They see themselves on TV, they see themselves on billboards; when you go to school, you didn't learn about nobody else's history except for Caucasian history. You didn't learn about yours, your didn't learn about anybody's else's; only their history. It gives minorities and people of color a negative image of themselves. Whether this is by design or whether this is by coincidence, it still tends to give the same result.

So when I bring it back to what Floyd is saying, I'm sure along the line that he has experienced it. Whether he hears people making comments about the way his uncle speaks or his dad speaks. People have made fun on camera about their speech impediment. Both of them have been called crackheads by fans and media alike. There are people in the media right now that show open disdain for Floyd. If a fan writes in and has an opinion or asks a question, the response is very open to the fact that, hey, this guy is a piece of this and he's a piece of that, so I'm sure that he experiences that, but what they have to understand is that he has children and they read about this. He has loved ones and they read about it.

I mean, if you want to talk about racism in boxing, we only have to go back 100 years and nothing much has really changed. It's not a secret in professional boxing that the African American fighter is a hard sale and a hard person to promote. Now, he becomes easy to promote when he plays the buffoon. He becomes easy to promote when he does some things that are unthinkable. Whether he slaps a person in public or whether he runs his car off the road and hits somebody or whether he uses profanity when a microphone is in his face, he becomes easy to promote, but this is not required of the other fighters that are different racial ethnic background. Instead, you see the dignity, you see the family togetherness, you see the thoughtfulness that's involved in that fighter's life and you respect him for who he is, and then the dirt that that person does is pretty much covered up as much as possible.

If you want to talk about racism, I mean, we can just start with Jack Johnson, where rules were made up to stop him from living his life. He was a marked man on the freeway because he had a preference in women. Rules were made up to get that belt back from him. Now if he would've been doing all this and the heayvweight championship wasn't on the line, I don't think a lot of these rules would've been made and a lot of these laws wouldn't have been passed. A lot of African American fighters gave away their health, gave away their life, and everything to try and achieve a goal that was pushed back all because of their color. They were deprived a chance because of their color. Even Joe Louis pretty much had to pay his way to a championship fight. It would be unheard of today that I'd give you a championship fight, but you have to give me 10% of your earnings if I give you this shot. If he's worthy of the title shot, that shouldn't be a question. We can also go back to Joe when he lost to Schmelling the first time. Some of the newspaper articles that were written about him and some of the pictures depicted him as a gorilla and as a lazy goon and things like that. I mean, very, very hurtful things.

Even Ali, Ali is revered today, but when he was Cassius Clay, just because his religious preferences were not in line with what other people thought they were, you know, they just started this hunt to get this belt from up under him. Now here's a man who flunked the military test and then gets reclassified without ever being tested again, right, because we're going to make an example out of you and we're going to show you what time it is, you see. We're going to make sure that you don't go around running your mouth and bragging and things like that. We're going to make an example out of you. So you deprive him of a living, you take away his prime years, you take his passport; you not only not let him fight, you put him behind bars outside of prison walls. But later on, he becomes a hero.

Sonny Liston, who desperately wanted to change people's perception about him as he came up. People have to ask themselves if they came up in a family of 18 in dirt poor situations and the daddy done just beat them all the time to the point that they had to leave home in the 3rd or 4th grade, and you go into a strange city and you look out of place because you're big for your age and everything else; he was vilified because of his mob connections, yet we glorify the same mobsters in movies. We glorified the same mobsters in American history. They say it's part of American history. Well, they ran boxing at the time. Look at the guys like Ike Williams, who couldn't get an opportunity unless they were mob connected, and then they're taking your money, they're fixing fights, and everything else. Boxing was not a sport that one could really be trusted in at that time, but again, the people that got the worst of the type of operation were African American. They were also racists towards Jewish fighters. Jewish fighters had to change their names. I believe Benny Leonard, that was not his real name. I believe he had to come up with a different name just to fight. Sugar Ray Robinson was deprived of a title shot after being 91-0; he still hadn't had a title shot.

BT: Obviously times have changed since those days, but based on your own experiences in boxing, do you feel like a level of racism still exists today inside the industry? You just gave a lot of great examples from the past, but do you think now, in 2016, that a similar type of mentally exists where certain individuals may not want to promote an African American champion the same way they would a fighter of a different race?

VH: Well, I do. I mean, fortunately for a Hispanic fighter, they have the most loyal fans out there, but having also trained Hispanic fighters, there's another side to it also when they go outside of their race. For instance, Alfredo Angulo, who I care about dearly, who I treated and loved like a son, when I suggested to him that his dedication to the sport and that his commitment to the sport is such that he should retire, when he went back to his old coach, his old coach made the statement that I don't understand Mexican fighters. Now, he's suggesting that since Alfredo didn't fight like a Mexican, that's why he lost. I'm still today trying to figure out what is a Mexican fighter because my top 5 favorite fighters in the world has two Hispanic greats, Salvador Sanchez and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., the daddy; two different styles, so I'm trying to figure out what they mean by Mexican fighters. So in a way, that's the perception of it, that I didn't understand his style. No, it wasn't his style that cost him. I didn't teach Alfredo Angulo how to fight. I said his commitment and his dedication to the sport prompted him some losses that he should consider retirement, but it was turned into a racial thing.

Now, Andre Ward is your last gold medalist in the United States for male boxing; David Reid being the one before him I believe. The adulation that has been given to some gold medalists, or even silver medalists, he didn't receive that, but I understand that aspect of it because they felt that previously, they had given up too much money and some guys didn't own up to what they were blessed with, so I can understand that part of it. I think in Floyd's case, he's like anybody else, you know. He wants to be loved, he wants to be cared about, he wants to be thought of as somebody who's a difference maker, who has other things that go on in his heart and goes on in his thought process other than what people might think, and I think that no attention has really been paid to that. I think they harp on the things that he's able to buy or the places that he's able to go to, things like that, so there is an element of racism there.

I heard a person come up to me in the store and he asks me, "When is Mayweather going to retire? He's made enough of money." Now, I've heard this statement concerning African American athletes more than once. It's like after you make a certain amount of money, you don't need to make anymore money, see, but nobody says that to Warren Buffet. Nobody says that to Bill Gates. Nobody says, "Haven't you made enough computers. I mean, you made billions. Don't you have enough money?" It's only said to African American athletes. Nobody says that about Wladimir Klitschko. I think when he brings up Ronda Rousey, I think he has a solid point there. This is not to vilify Ronda Rousey. She can only win in the ring, but the perception of her, to grab onto her; we experienced in boxing when Tommy Morrison came along, who happen to think is one heck of a heavyweight. When John Wayne's name was attached to him, it opened up doors for him. I don't even know if that had even been proven that that was the case, but that was the line that was used all the time, you see.

It's a very, very delicate situation. Those who are African American, they know racism very well. Those who are not, they will never really get the full understanding of what Floyd is talking about. They can only take it for face value and then they can only comment off of it the way that they see fit, but I can feel him and I can understand exactly what he's saying. I cannot understand why Andre Ward and Gennady Golovkin did not fight each other. Another good example is this "diva" title that they tried to put on Andre because he in tune to the business side of it. How many times have we seen African American athletes broke because they didn't pay attention to the business side of it? When he was with, God bless his soul, a great man, a good man, Dan Goossen, people said that Dan did this for him and Dan built his career. Andre Ward has to win in the ring to build him. If you gonna look at it the right way, you have to reverse that perception. Andre Ward made Dan Goossen also. Don't get me wrong, I love Dan Goossen. I think he was one of the most intriguing men that I ever met in my life, but Dan Goossen didn't say that. He might have said it when he was angry, but I never heard Dan Goossen say, "I did this for Andre Ward and I did that." What do you mean? He has to get in the ring and win. You didn't just put him in the ring and say, "Okay, he wins." He has to fight; he has to perform. The bigger the fighter, the bigger the promoter. Take away a top fighter from a promoter and see what's left. There are a lot of promoters today that can't get television dates because they don't have the product. You have to have the product, you see. If you don't have the product, you don't have the power. The fighter brings that. The main fighter brings the power. The kid opened the door by winning. What people have to understand is that Andre Ward has gone through things in life that he believes in, like anybody else, and you want to say he's a diva? Well, he didn't have a problem fighting on BET. You want to say he's a diva? When he won the gold medal, he had the flag around his shoulders. When he won the Super Six, his main statement was that the title was going to stay in America. It's not going to England, it's not going to Denmark, it's not going to German, it's going to stay here. I think when an Afrian American man is brought up to tend to his business, when he is educated on the dark side of boxing, when he has enough examples to look at in this business to see that I better stay in tune to what's going on in my career, you see, he gets a name put on him. I can really understand what Floyd is saying.

I think that the media, instead of trying to vilify Floyd, what's the solution? What are we going to do about it? They vilified Floyd for fighting Andre Berto in his last fight. Well, he had a right to fight Andre Berto in his last fight. If you look at his resume, the very same guy that you got ranked up there now high, Canelo, he beat Canelo. He beat Cotto. He beat all these guys convincingly and you have them ranked, but now you want him to fight GGG. The bottom line is that anybody that's African American knows this for a fact, it's very hard for the boxing media to let Floyd walk away undefeated without seeing him get hurt, injured, or knocked out in a boxing ring because he flaunted everything in their face. But the very thing they hated, him flaunting it, is the very same thing they used to capitalize on by writing a column. They make much out of anything. Even his statement about Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, how he said he was better than all of them. Well, I'm not going to get into that debate, each one of them had their time, but I will say after 35 years old, he was better than they were. They talk about Floyd fighting Berto, who was a two-time world champ. Well, Ali's intent for his last fight was to fight Leon Spinks, who only had 8 or 9 fights, and he lost to him, so he came back just to clean that up and then he retired. He came back, which he shouldn't have, but his initial plan was to fight Leon Spinks, an easy fight out the door, and retire. It just backfired on him. Look at Joe Calzaghe; he fights Roy [Jones Jr.] his last fight. Roy had been stopped 2 or 3 times by then, but nobody complained about that. Nobody complains about the governing bodies letting [Arthur] Abraham stay over in Germany and fight who he wants to fight. Nobody complains when these belts get over there, like with Felix Sturm and how he was able to keep that belt by not fighting nobody and guys getting passed over for it. Nobody said a word. Boxing is the only sport where you can be in the Hall of Fame and still be working. That's not a knock on anybody; it's just something for people to think about. You know, racism exists in the sport, but I think it's a good lesson for the young kids to pay attention. Know your history! Know the history of the sport! It exists, let's admit it exists, and let's see what we can do about it.

[ Follow Ben Thompson on Twitter @fighthype ]

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