On last night’s ESPN boxing broadcast, former champions turned commentators Andre Ward and Timothy Bradley Jr were asked to share their thoughts on the racial and social justice movement happening today in the United States, as it relates to boxing and relates to their lives.
Thankfully, this has been put online in an official capacity to be shared and seen by everyone. We’ve transcribed their thoughts in the event you can’t watch the video, but if you can, I strongly encourage you to watch, listen, and feel the words from these men instead of just reading below.
“What I’ve seen the last two-and-a-half weeks or so, I’ve been blessed by a lot of it. It’s been really encouraging, it’s given me a lot of hope — the solidarity that I see people standing in and walking in. And then some of it, frankly, has broken my heart.
“I am the son of a black mother and a white father. I’ve had to deal with disdain, looks of disgust from both blacks and whites. That was my reality growing up. Some of those looks turned into physical altercations with my father, because he was not about that. He was not about injustice, he was not about racism, he was not about divide, and he would fight for it, literally.
“So from being raised from a man like that, as well as my faith, I hate — and I don’t use this world lightly — I hate bias, I hate prejudice, I hate double standards of any kind. It’s my life’s mission to not allow any of that to come out of me, but to also fight for it and fight against it.
“I think for the boxing community, if we want to affect change, I think we can start right here at home. Myself as well as many other African-American fighters, for many, many years, we’ve had to deal with double standards, we’ve had to deal with certain prejudices and certain biases, where if an African-American fighter is not a villain, if he is not boisterous, if he’s not a guy who is jumping on tables and doing crazy things at press conferences, he’s not worth the price of admission. He’s not worth your streaming buy or your pay-per-view buy.
“That’s something I detest. I personally, as well as others, have protested this line of thinking, and have protested this thought where — when Floyd Mayweather was ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather, nobody paid attention. But all of a sudden, when he became the villain, when he became ‘Money Mayweather,’ now he was worth the price of admission to see him lose.
“This is something that has bothered me. I have protested against it, other fighters have protested against it, and it should not be the case. And now that I have the opportunity to mentor another young African-American fighter in Shakur Stevenson, we have these discussions, and I encourage him all the time, if individuals — media, fans, whoever it may be — if they’re asking you to be anything other than yourself, Shakur, they’re asking for way too much.”
Timothy Bradley Jr
“Our situation has been really difficult at my household. My children, my wife — you gotta understand, my wife his Hispanic, my children are Hispanic and also black, and I have two stepchildren that are Hispanic and Caucasian. And their father is an officer, he is in law enforcement. And I have friends in law enforcement, and I have a brother in law enforcement.
“But I want to share a story with you folks, something that happened a year ago, with my four-year-old son. I think all you guys need to hear this. We were getting ready for school, it was early in the morning. I went outside and asked my son, ‘Which car you wanna drive today? Which care you wanna go in?’ It was a car that I had been fixing for a little while, I haven’t driven it in about three years. And I knew he was gonna say that car.
“But I was a little skeptical to get in that car, because I knew the type of tension that that car can bring. I got in anyway, because I wanted to see the smile on my son’s face. We’re halfway to school, next thing you know, I hear sirens. I look in my rear view mirror, and what do I see? Not one, not two, but four officers behind me.
“I turned around and I looked at my son. My heart was pumping 100 miles an hour. I told my son, ‘Look at me. Do exactly what I tell you to do right now. Don’t say anything at all. Keep your hands up high. OK?’ He said, ‘OK, dad.’
“Anyway, I didn’t get apprehended once they figured out who I was. And as we continued to drive, my son asked me, ‘Dad, why did they pull us over?’ And I said, ‘Son, they pulled us over because of the color of our skin and the type of car that we’re driving. That’s the truth, son.’
“And I said, ‘Let me tell me something that my dad told me 30 years ago.’ He told me, ‘Because of the color of your skin, son, you already have a strike already on you. And I told my son that at four years old. And I said, ‘You might not get it now, but you will get it later.’
“My father shared that with me 30 years ago, and I just shared that with my son about a year ago.”