Boxing was the sport of my youth. Nothing bound me to my father as a preteen as much as the Friday Night Fights. I would stay up late with my Dad to watch the likes of Carmen Basilio, Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Gene Fullmer. I loved the action. Admittedly, I have always been a pacifist, but that emotional bond to my Dad made me a huge boxing fan and the people who have loved me have been mystified.
The violence of the sport is unmistakable and the sleaziness is just as hard to defend. Yet, I have been to almost a score of championship fights in Las Vegas and other places. I have paid obscene amounts of money for tickets to fights and just as silly amounts to watch pay-per-view fights with my friends. I watched Mike Tyson savagely pummel opponents. I ignored his rape conviction and blindly poured money into his pocket.
Saturday night a long-awaited fight for boxing fans will take place between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. I really want to see that fight. Like most boxing fans I have wanted to see that fight for a long time. Despite that, I won’t be watching the fight and I am not going to buy it because I am not going to put a dime in the Mayweather coffers.
You see, Floyd Mayweather has been convicted five times for violence against women. Five times. Five times he has been convicted of battering and, threatening women. Yet, Saturday night he will make around $180 million dollars for his fight. None of that money he makes will be mine.
Many of you are asking if I will be off tilting at windmills instead. Perhaps. I am under no illusion that the money I refuse to pay for this pay-per-view fight will bring down Mayweather, nor do I believe it will strike anything like a fatal blow against domestic violence.
Yet, a couple of weeks ago my employer, Arizona State University, urged students and faculty to wear denim to protest domestic violence against women. I wore my jeans with pride. I just don’t see how I can turn my back on that meaningful protest and show any support at all for somebody who has been convicted of domestic violence five times.
Choosing not to support certain businesses who do things that I find reprehensible was something my late wife taught me. There were several companies we refused to do business with because they discriminated, they treated their employees badly or refused to accept every person as people of dignity. We never believed we would bring anybody to their knees or even make a big impact with our mini-protest but it felt like a battle worth waging.
I see not buying Saturday night’s fight not as a solution to any problem but as an act of conscience and solidarity with the women in my life. I refuse to see my boycott of the Mayweather fight as an act of Quixotic futility. It is an exercise of conscience that I pray might make the world safer.