By James L. Walker, Jr. –
What a difference a few days can make. Less than three weeks after Floyd “Money” Mayweather – the sports world’s highest paid athlete – went to jail as part of his 90 day sentence for a domestic violence conviction, several things have changed.
His chief rival Manny Pacquiao – the world’s second richest athlete and long rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world – unceremoniously lost. And Mayweather, a five-division world champion and holder of eight world titles himself, also lost; not a match but rather his bid to leave jail early as a Las Vegas judge denied his motion protesting the lock-up’s bad food and lack of workout space.
Maybe with a bit more self-reflection over the next two months, the showy “fighter that keeps it real and never fake,” will resolve to make one more change: the perception of domestic violence.
Beating your children’s mother in the head, pulling her hair and tossing her to the living room floor is indefensible. And for that, he received the jail sentence, a $2,500 fine and an order to complete 54 counseling sessions and 100 hours of community service. And to his credit, Mayweather has complied with the orders; he’s even donated more than $100,000 to charities, including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.
But as one of sport’s most-visible athletes, Mayweather should do more to raise awareness and speak out against for the victims who suffer in silence. Millions of women are abused annually according to the statistics, but their pain is obscured by the public’s apathy and seeming preoccupation with the celebrity and wealth of athletes like Pretty Boy Floyd, his unending line of luxury cars and the grandeur of his 22,000 square-foot mansion.
The general public seems more interested in how many more millions Mayweather can earn with each successive prize fight ($32 million in his most recent victory this past May) or the hundreds of thousands he wages regularly at Vegas casinos (up to $1 million on some NFL and college basketball games). There’s scant outcry to the fact that his children were witnesses to the fear, assault and abuse of their mother and that he’d even threatened them when they dialed 911 to summon the police.
Consider these facts:
- Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten;
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family;
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined;
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually
Specifically, here are three things I hope Floyd Mayweather would consider upon his release from jail, a) become a strong advocate against domestic abuse; b) raise significant sums of money to support domestic abuse programs and education through boxing exhibitions, a speaking tour and other initiatives; and c) call upon his friends and partners at HBO to use the cable network’s resources to bring further attention to the issue.
Imagine Mayweather embarking on a Stop Domestic Violence tour across the country, including visiting and talking with young men on how serious this issue is ( a la Mike Vick and his anti-dog fighting program) and or even writing a book of his own on the topic.
Imagine if Mayweather staged boxing exhibitions around the country to raise and donate millions of dollars to support battered women shelters and fund a television campaign against domestic violence.
Imagine if Mayweather were able to marshal the forces of HBO to broadcast public service announcements – or even a documentary – to 168 or more countries around the globe like they do for his pay-per-view pugilism performances. Floyd has said it takes three things to be a great fighter, “a great mind, a great chin and a great heart.” Let’s hope he’s re-evaluating some things in his life and re-emerges from jail with one additional change, a great plan to make help us all defeat domestic violence.
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James L. Walker, Jr. is based in Atlanta, GA. He can be found at www.jameslwalkeresq.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a sports and entertainment lawyer who has helped operate halfway homes and shelters for men, women and families.