Boxing's Disturbing History With Domestic Violence Is Thrust Into The Spotlight By Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s Fight
On Saturday, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will face off in a boxing mega-match in Las Vegas to determine which athlete is the boxing champion of the world. Mayweather will defend his career-long undefeated streak, but both men will make more than $100 million for competing, win or lose. Along with Mayweather's fame and fortune comes a trail of alleged domestic abuse throughout his past, including six charges, some of which were dropped, two months in jail, and a current civil lawsuit. Why is he still allowed to compete you ask? Neither the World Boxing Federation or the Nevada Athletics Commission have rules forbidding boxers to commit domestic violence or sexual assault.
Yahoo News reports that no man has ever been denied a license to fight by a state athletic commission for committing domestic abuse, and Mayweather is no exception. According to Yahoo, when Mayweather spoke to the commission about his license for the upcoming match, he was asked, "Have there been any additional incidents or any additional circumstances dealing with domestic violence since the last time of your application?" Mayweather responded, "Um, not from me. I don't know about no one else, but not for me," and said he had fulfilled the obligations of his 2012 conviction for abusing the mother of three of his children, Josie Harris.
Mayweather spent two months in jail in 2012 for the 2010 violence against Harris and has never been punished by a the boxing federation or athletics commission.
Domestic abuse among professional athletes is not a new problem, but it became a nationally recognized issue when Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice assaulted his then-fiancee, now wife, last year and was only suspended from two NFL games. Prior to the incident, the NFL's conduct policy stated that players would be disciplined for domestic abuse offense, but gave no specifics, so the league was left scrambling to come up with an appropriate punishment for Rice.
After receiving a great deal of criticism for the light suspension, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell created new rules for players who abuse a partner, saying the first offense would lead to a six-game suspension without pay and a second offense would lead to being kicked out of the league for at least a year.
The boxing world has no such rules though. Mayweather is currently being sued by his ex-fiancee Shantel Jackson who alleges that he pointed a gun at her, among other threatening acts. The next hearing in the civil case is scheduled for June 8 and it's not expected to go to trial anytime soon, but Mayweather wasn't even asked about it when getting a license for Saturday's fight.
Though it only came after a highly-publicized incident, the NFL's reform of domestic violence rules should be an example for other sports' institutions, boxing included.
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