A mother’s gratitude to the ugliness of boxing

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, updates about the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight flooded your feed over the weekend.

Even though my dad was an amateur boxer before he became a college professor (and has the artfully rearranged nose to prove it), I have zero interest in boxing. I may go so far to say it disgusts me. Lovers of boxing have many reasons for defending the sport, and I won’t get into a tit for tat argument about its merits here. Suffice to say I’m not a fan.

I was grateful for one thing amid the hype about zillion-dollar purses and winning streaks, though: The hugely anticipated match made many of us confront the ugliness of domestic abuse and the glorification of violence.

Floyd Mayweather, I learned through links that friends posted on Facebook, is a convicted domestic abuser (pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in order to avoid felony charges). The most chilling article I read included an image of his then-10-year-old son’s description of Merryweather beating his wife—and taking away all the phones in the house so no one could call the police. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would call Mayweather a decent human being—at least with a straight face.

Yet I am not surprised. The man has a garage full of Ferraris thanks to his skill at beating opponents unconscious. What’s more, entire arenas fill to watch—and cheer—as he unleashes his every violent impulse. Is it any wonder he beats women—bashing their heads into car doors or pummeling them while his children watch?

Of course not every boxer is a beast. My dad is just one example, as is Manny Pacquiau, who in his spare time (ha!) is a semi-professional basketball player, singer, actor and member of the Philippine House of Representatives. Proponents will say boxing teaches restraint, skill and determination. But at its core, boxing glorifies and encourages violence.

I thought a lot about what this means for my almost-two-year-old daughter and her sister growing inside me. To start, we will not be contributing to the madness that surrounds matches like the one Mayweather won on Saturday night (even if Eric likes to watch them, and even if we had the spare money to throw down hundreds of dollars to watch it). I want no part in contributing to the payout of a man like Mayweather, even indirectly. That’s the easy step.

I will also read and contribute to conversations about domestic violence and abuse. Stigma and fear envelop victims—and protect perpetrators, which only ensures the violence will continue; outsiders’ silence makes us complicit.

I cannot bear to think of my daughter becoming entangled in an abusive relationship. I am not so naïve to think that any amount of advocacy and education could entirely wipe out the scourge of domestic abuse, but awareness and discussion like that which accompanied Saturday’s match helps.

I will do my best to raise daughters who are advocates for themselves. I will do my best to teach them that no one has the right to belittle, manipulate or harm them in any way.

I will also do my best to instill fairness, kindness and empathy as core values. No one—including girls and women—should abuse their power over another, especially a loved one.

And I will hug my daughter extra-tight. I will welcome our second child into the world with as much love as is possible—and then some, because somehow having a baby exponentially expands your capacity to love. I will raise these children the best I can and work every single day to ensure them a bright future—one without fear of people like Mayweather.

National Domestic Violence 24/7 Hotline

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence