Zeytinoglu: Boxing should follow other sports and punish Mayweather

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Ekin Zeytinoglu, Columnist

I have never been a great fan of boxing, but for me and many others around the world,  an hour of boxing once a year, especially what is advertised as the “Fight of the Century,” is always entertaining. Since I tend to support underdogs in every sport, it is not surprising that I rooted for Manny Pacquiao in Saturday’s fight. Yet there was an even bigger motivation for me — and reading about the booing from fans at the fight, for many others as well — to support Pacquiao: the unquestionably appalling past of his opponent, Floyd Mayweather.

Undeniably, the best athletes become the best not just by sheer technical ability but also through tactical superiority. Mayweather famously applies both of these to his game, which probably explains his unbeaten record of 48-0. Yet there is a point where being the best starts to not matter, or at least should start to not matter. Mayweather has been convicted five times for domestic violence, once for hitting Josie Harris, the mother of three of his children. Despite all the convictions, Mayweather was sentenced to only three months in prison and was released after two months due to good behavior.

Mayweather, however, was never banned for his actions by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. I believe domestic abusers should be banned from sports for life, and many have written opinion pieces suggesting the same in the last week.

Moreover, the NSAC’s lack of response is striking when compared with the sanctions other athletic associations have levied against athletes who misbehave.

FIFA suspended FC Barcelona star striker Luis Suarez for four months after he bit an opponent in last summer’s FIFA World Cup, the third biting incident of his career. Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of star running back Ray Rice — who was later suspended by the NFL — after video emerged showing him punch his fiancée, even though she decided not to testify against him in court. In Feb. 2015, NASCAR indefinitely suspended popular driver Kurt Busch after a judge determined he likely beat his ex-girlfriend. Most notably, former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was given the maximum penalty of ban for life and was fined $2.5 million by the NBA following the leakage of a number of racist comments.

I am not trying to suggest biting is as bad as domestic abuse or intentional racism, yet FIFA still suspended Suarez for four months. Individuals who act with such disregard for others should be penalized excessively, as they do not belong to the entertainment world millions watch. Moreover, domestic abuse and racism are heinous acts no better or worse than each other. Perpetrators, whether from sports, business or any other sector, should be kept from the public eye by any means and must be stripped of all possible privileges. Therefore the decisions of NASCAR, the NFL and the NBA should be applauded whereas NSAC should be criticized excessively for its lack of action.

Some say any viewer of the fight subsidized a domestic abuser. Though this claim may be technically correct — the projected $178 million Mayweather will earn was largely financed by pay-per-viewers on television — it does not offer a practical solution to removing the likes of Mayweather from television and sports. For better or worse, the burden of acting should not be on the viewers but on the federations, associations or committees, as they are the organizing bodies responsible for keeping sports clean.

Acts of deliberate violence, abuse and racism are heinous acts that must be condemned. Athletes like Mayweather should find themselves among the ranks of Sterling, Busch and Rice — all of whom faced significant bans from their sports — without hesitation.

Ekin Zeytinoglu is a McCormick sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

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