By Richard Ray:
You can look back at my other pieces on the upcoming Floyd “Money” Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor and know I am not a big fan of the farce… I mean fight. On August 27th several million people will claim to have been cheated and somehow victimized into paying $100 to watch the pay per view event. I am sure there will be lawsuits to follow and for those people I have zero sympathy for you in advance. You have been warned that the match will fail to live up to its hype and no one is forcing anyone to watch the fight let alone pay for it. Yet, several million people will…
They will in part because Mayweather and McGregor are undeniably the two best sports promotional hype men since the true greatest, Muhammad Ali. People will also tune in because Conor has decided to take on the dual roles of the racial provocateur Sultan as well as the great White Hope, “Irish” Terry Conklin. Those familiar with those names know they come from the fictional movie “The Great White Hype”. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, there are many surprising parallels to the current promotion of Mayweather vs. McGregor and the movie.
The movie was a comedic farce with characters loosely based on promoter Don King and former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson. The premise is that boxing fans are bored and a manufactured fight pitting a great White hyped opponent will bring excitement and financial windfalls to the promotion of a fight. They take a boxing novice who has never fought professionally and put him in against the champ. Defying all logic as to the fight’s legitimacy the public buys into the promotions’s frenzy when race is used as the primary baiting point to spur the public’s interest.
If this sounds familiar, it is as if Conor McGregor studied the movie and decided to play the dual roles to perfection. Boxing is the only sport in which disrespect leading up to a fight is considered not only okay but nearly essential to piquing the public’s interest. Conor McGregor has thrown race into the mix at the first three promotional events. It may have already been an underlying fact that played into the public’s interest, but McGregor has thrown it directly in Floyd and the public’s face by telling him to “Dance boy” (twice), “we know you can’t read” and seeming to reference the Black characters from Rocky III as “you mean the one with the little monkeys.”
Many feel as if McGregor has gone over the line with the racist references. Others have been more forgiving. Let’s not mince words. Conor McGregor’s references and statements during the three press events for the fight have indeed been racist. However, the promotion of a boxing match is probably the only event in which racism and outright disrespect are an acceptable platform. My theory on the acceptance in part lies in the fact that people almost seem okay with anything being said or done since the actual consequence and resolution to any words is that the two participants get to actually try and hurt each other.
What other venue are you able to compete against someone with the actual resolution to the dispute and competition is to legally punch the other person in the face… repeatedly. Since the dispute is resolved through combat, what’s a little racism or disrespect leading up to fisticuffs?
We all knew the hype leading up to this fight was going to be good. McGregor throwing in distasteful racists comments, may have a long term effect on his “brand” but related to his fight with Mayweather, it will probably only serve as an effective tool to lead others to believe there is bad blood between the two and that is generally enough to ensure additional sales that no one in their right mind would otherwise purchase.
Conor McGregor may be a great MMA champion, but in the sport of boxing he is just “Irish” Terry Conklin, and he is making sure if you did not know, The Great White Hype still sells.
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