Men be­hav­ing badly in­deed

Box­ing mis­match is per­haps a re­flec­tion of where we are as hu­man­ity

African Independent - - OPINION -

OUR world is shaped by the ex­is­tence of in­equal­ity, racism, sex­ism, greed and the con­stant de­sire to pum­mel the liv­ing day­lights out of each other for the hell of it. The world has gone mad, there’s no get­ting around it.

I mean, Don­ald Trump is not only in the White House, he’s ac­tively dis­man­tling the fur­ni­ture. Ja­cob Zuma mirac­u­lously still has a job, and the Mu­gabes are – yes, still on the iron throne. Let’s be hon­est, it’s a weird world of overt vi­o­lence by the state and ac­tive big­otry by its cit­i­zenry. For ex­hibits 1 and 2 re­spec­tively I will point you in the di­rec­tion of Char­lottesville, the cof­fin as­sault in South Africa – and a hu­man smor­gas­bord of hypocrisy, Andile Mngxi­tama.

The Floyd May­weather ver­sus Conor McGre­gor bout was billed as more than a box­ing match. Box­ing had little to do with it, now that you think about it. It had ev­ery­thing to do with trashy men talk­ing trash as a pre­cur­sor to punch­ing each other in the face, with ex­pen­sive box­ing gloves.

The fight was set up in a racial con­text from the be­gin­ning; the suc­cess­ful black pro­fes­sional boxer who some­how be­came a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of “the es­tab­lish­ment” sup­ported by largely work­ing-class blacks and Lati­nos, ver­sus the white, racist, mixed mar­tial arts fighter backed mainly by work­ing-class white males in Europe and the US.

It’s the Amer­i­can “hero” with the bil­lion­dol­lar smile ver­sus the Ir­ish loud­mouth with bro­ken teeth, and what ap­pears to be a per­ma­nent con­cus­sion. Down to its core, and in the con­text of the world we live in to­day, it is black ver­sus white.

Both men walked away from it with at least $100 mil­lion each. May­weather will re­port­edly earn about $300m, tak­ing him into the $1 bil­lion club. That doesn’t mean he is worth $1bn though.

The fight beat most movies at the box of­fice. Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, the fight earned $2.6m at 534 the­atres which charged fans $40 ad­mis­sion. It’s one hel­luva mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise.

But what does it mean that we can throw such ob­scene amounts of money at two men who don’t rep­re­sent much more than anger, vi­o­lence and greed? I’m sure they have some re­deem­ing qual­i­ties in­side them, and a num­ber of char­i­ties, but they’re not ex­actly trad­ing on fam­ily val­ues. The worst part is that we bought into it.

Let’s be hon­est, there was some plea­sure in see­ing the white racist take a beat­ing from the…oh, wait a minute, the woman beater. It’s prob­lem­atic this, isn’t it? There is no good guy here, and even par­tic­i­pat­ing in the spec­ta­cle adds le­git­i­macy to it. The only pres­ence of a woman was the beer am­bas­sador.

Over the course of the long­est build-up in box­ing his­tory, May­weather often ref­er­enced the fe­male body to de­grade his op­po­nent. We know the words. McGre­gor re­torted with his own brand of racial stereo­typ­ing to rile May­weather and no doubt tar­get­ing May­weather’s fan base too.

Ev­ery now and again men need to beat each other in the head, to cel­e­brate the priv­i­lege of be­ing male all over the world. Motto: We’ll mea­sure the size of our nu­clear mis­siles first, and grab you by the gen­i­tals later.

Maybe I’m just a spoil­sport and a hyp­ocrite, be­cause I do love a good game of foot­ball, with sim­i­lar por­tray­als of mas­culin­ity and su­pe­ri­or­ity. Maybe I’ve been doomed from the start. Maybe we all are.

We don’t all have to like what May­weather and McGre­gor have done, but we have a right not to par­tic­i­pate. So, if you’re go­ing to par­tic­i­pate in this road­show can we at least dial down the hate speech? And could they not have taken a pay cut?

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