By Dr. MUNYONZWE HAMALENGWA
The average non-sports fan, especially in respect to Boxing, has no idea about the unprecedented world excitement about the boxing match of welterweights American Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Pilipino Manny Pacquiao that is taking place on Saturday May 2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This is a premier match-up that only comes once in a generation where two unmatched fistic combatants are brought together to determine who is the King of the Ring. These two gladiators have seemingly been avoiding each other in the last six years. They have fought everybody else among themselves but they have never fought each other. The excitement is greater than that generated by the rivalry between Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson (100 metres) or between Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey (150 metres) or between Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay (100 metres).
This fistic extravaganza is said to be more anticipated and has generated more high feverish dynamite than the fight of the century between then undefeated Muhammad Ali and undefeated Joe Frazier or the fight of the decade between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. It is not only because of the availability of the Internet which exposes everything, but because or as well, the magnitude of the purses. Mayweather is guaranteed US$180 million and Pacquiao is guaranteed US$120 million just for entering the ring. Mayweather is also expecting another more than US$50 million in percentage sales from Pay Per View tickets, memorabilia, promotions and the like. It is the richest one time payout in sports history.
And this is happening all because of one Black sportsman called Floyd Mayweather Jr. took it upon himself that he was going to be his own man, that he was not going to allow a White or Black man control his destiny and purse. He decided that he had God-given talents that he was going to use and that he was going to decide who he was going to fight and under what terms. He decided that his talents demanded that he must call the shots or nothing is going to come out of anything if it did not meet his terms. He saw how many athletes were exploited and dumped after they were no longer necessary and useful to the powers-that-be that control sports. He also reasoned that his number one priority was self-preservation and not what the fans or powers-that-be wanted, e.g. to allow himself to be hit in the head. Mayweather decided that it is the smartest that survive and not those who worked harder or had bigger muscles or were quick with their fists or on their legs.
Thus Mayweather threw fewer punches than an average fighter but those punches were more accurate in landing on the target than any fighter in history. He is also stated to have the best defensive schema in the history of boxing that involves tilting his left shoulder and developing angles so that another fighter finds it difficult to land a flash punch on the head or face.
A lesson here can be gleaned: discover your God-given talent and exploit it. Some get their gifts discovered by their parents, guardians or school teachers.
The campaign to get Mayweather to fight Pacquiao began over five years ago. Over the years Pacquiao has been refusing to take tests for performance enhancing drugs (PED), a key demand of Mayweather. Pacquiao had also been refusing to take much less than 50 per cent of the purse, a key demand. As such no fight could take place. Over the years, however, these two fighters continued to pile unprecedented records against other fighters to the extent that the campaign to match them up reached volcanic levels. Mayweather was accused of ducking Pacquiao for fear of losing the only asset that nobody else had, that is, his unbeaten record. Before the fight on May 2, Mayweather stands at 47 wins against no losses while Pacquiao has 57 wins, five losses (some dubious) and two draws. The pressure on Mayweather to relax his demands could no longer be ignored. The pressure on Pacquiao to accept Mayweather’s demands were also impregnable. Something had to give.
In all the more than five years that the pressure had been mounting on the fighters to engage in pugilistic combat, the two fighters had never met. They were negotiating through third parties. However, in late January 2015, the two fighters met face to face at a basketball game in Miami and engaged in direct negotiations by themselves and the deal was clinched as a result of that accidental meeting. Some call it an act of God. Pacquiao missed a flight that day and decided to attend the basketball game without knowing of course that Mayweather would be there.
In Mediation or Arbitration 101, the parties must be there to give instructions to their agents and in the process they see each other or hear each other. Mayweather and Pacquiao had been kept apart. A huge lesson can be learned from this fight: If Mayweather and Pacquiao had not met by fluke and negotiate right there and then and exchanged phone numbers, this fight would never happen. Pacquiao agreed to do tests for PED and to get paid less.
Another big lesson that one can take away from the magnitude of this fight is that Mayweather did not climb to the boxing heaven of being the highest paid athlete in history in the last several years alone. It was his father who started him when Mayweather was about a year-and-a-half old. Youtube videos are there to demonstrate this. Mayweather took off from there. His defensive genius was borrowed from his father.
You can read the histories of most great athletes, especially Blacks, where a parent guided them from childhood. Do you want to talk about Tiger Woods? Or the Williams sisters in tennis? Do not forget about Kobe Bryant in basketball. The list goes on and on. It is not only in sports. A parent was present in the forefront in the early life of President Barack Obama whose mother used to wake him up at 4 a.m. to do school work. If you read Condoleeza Rice’s autobiography or the videos of Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez or Britney Spears and hundreds of others, a parent was always present.
The lesson here is: Ask not what your children can do for you, ask what you can do for your children.
Lesson number three among many other lessons is: what role model are you copying? There are hardly any great individuals who did not draw inspiration from someplace else, be it from God or deity or from a mentor or some distant or contemporary person. Mayweather’s antics can be traced directly to Muhammad Ali and eventually to Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion of the world. Johnson was a true one-man original. In the White world of bigotry, Johnson demanded respect, freedom to do what he wanted and to be what he wanted because he had this God-given talent. He was a threat to White society because of this non-compromising stance. He paid a price for insisting on living out his life the way he wanted to live it.
Muhammad Ali paid for this as well, as did Carl Lewis, Donovan Bailey, Barry Bonds and Mayweather. That, however, is another story. Let’s stay on the positive side.
Muhammad Ali’s genius can be traced also to Jack Johnson through Georgous George, a wrestling heavyweight champion in the early sixties. George impressed Muhammad Ali by calling himself The Greatest. Muhammad Ali decided that he was more than Greatest. He was The Greatest of All Time. Sugar Ray Leonard imitated Ali as did flashy Hector Macho Camacho. Many American and Canadian lawyers wanted to be – or have aspired to be – Clarence Darrow or Johnnie Cochran or F. Lee Bailey. How many Usain Bolts are in the making? We draw inspiration from others.
Another lesson in conclusion is that sports have brought untold wealth to many Blacks who otherwise would be wallowing in poverty. One of these is Mayweather. He came from a dysfunctional family. He dropped out of school at age 16. But his father had laid the foundation for him to be a great boxer. And there he is now on the verge of making the biggest single sport event earnings of over $250 million and in the process, injecting over US$3 billion into the U.S. and world economy through betting, airline travel, Internet use, advertisements, hotels, manufacture of products, food, alcohol and drug consumption at sports bars throughout the world etc. Never ever should anybody cast aspersions at a Black man or woman.
Mayweather, you are the man.