clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Virgil Hunter backs Mayweather's claims on racism in combat sports

Virgil Hunter says he can identify with what Floyd Mayweather was trying to say about racism in combat sports, even if his words didn't resonate with others.

Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

In a long and thoughtful interview with FightHype, Virgil Hunter says he knows exactly what Floyd Mayweather was talking about as it pertains to racism in boxing and MMA. Here are a few excepts on his thoughts of Mayweather's claims, but be sure to check out his full interview at the link above.

"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," said Hunter.

Hunter goes on to cite a number of examples from ranging from Jack Johnson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, to Sonny Liston. When brought up that those examples, although legitimate, took place many years ago, Hunter was asked if he still sees evidence of racism in boxing today.

"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."

Hunter also talks about contemporary examples of what I would describe as averism racism in combat sports:

"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 I 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," Hunter continued.

Hunter then transitioned into speaking about his own experiences in working with Andre Ward. Hunter says Ward was labeled as a "diva" for simply being a shrewd businessman in a shady sport. He also says the late Dan Goossen got a lot of credit for Ward's accomplishments when it was Ward who had to ultimately perform in the ring. Hunter makes it a point to say that he loves Dan Goossen, but that Ward did as much for Goossen as Goossen did for Ward.

"I think when an African 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."

Hunter finishes the interview by saying that instead of vilifying Mayweather over his comments, people should acknowledge it and focus on finding solutions to the underlying problem.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bad Left Hook Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your global boxing news from Bad Left Hook