Anyone who cares about boxing knows that a number of its participants have criminal pasts—and, for that matter, criminal presents and criminal futures. In Mayweather’s case, the news of his latest assault and concomitant jail sentence was sometimes treated as yet one more episode in a colorful life. A few months after the sentence came down, HBO called Mayweather “one of boxing’s most intriguing and controversial figures” and broadcast “Floyd Mayweather: Speaking Out,” an interview conducted by Michael Eric Dyson, the scholar known for his analysis of African-American culture and politics.
“I’m pretty sure Martin Luther King been in jail,” Mayweather said, rather nonsensically. “I’m pretty sure Malcolm X been in jail.”
At one point, Dyson suggested that Mayweather’s critics were jealous and possibly racist. He asked, “Do you think people have a real resentment of your success as a black man who’s flashy, making it rain, and they look at their own lives and see that they’re not doing nearly as well as you?”
What should we do with athletes like Mayweather, who commit particularly disturbing crimes? In boxing, the answer, traditionally, has been: as long as they are not currently incarcerated, let them fight.
Read The Best Defense by Kelefa Sanneh in the New Yorker.