Lem Satterfield

Mayweather speaks out on race, Pacquiao, Obama, Ali, Floyd Sr.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. called money “nothing but comfort,” said he would have President Barack Obama carry his title belt into the ring if he ever faced Manny Pacquiao, likened himself to Muhammad Ali in terms of the racial resentment and derision he arrouses from his detractors, and addressed his early life in a dysfunctional household that was affected by drug abuse and neglect.

The 35-year-old WBC welterweight beltholder’s assertions were made during “Floyd Mayweather: Speaking Out,” which aired on HBO on Saturday in advance of his HBO Pay Per Per View-televised match with Miguel Cotto (37-2, 30 knockouts) on May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

In pursuit of his eighth title belt over five weight divisions against Cotto, a 154-pound beltholder, Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) was introduced as “one of the most provocative athletes of our time” by acclaimed author, academic and interviewing host, Michael Eric Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown who has conducted similar conversations with Obama, among others.

Dyson broached a number of topics with Mayweather, ranging from a potential bout with Pacquiao, the fighter’s expressed affinity with Ali, Martin Luther King Jr. and  Malcolm X, his controversial comments about Asian New York Nicks’ guard Jeremy Lin and his adversarial relationship with HBO commentator, Larry Merchant.

On a more personal note, Mayweather spoke on his impending jail time as well as his relationships with both a mother who was once addicted to crack and heroin, and his father and former trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., who was once imprisoned for his actions as a drug dealer.

According to Dyson, Floyd Mayweather Sr. once held up a 1-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a “decoy” to shield himself during an argument with a family member who wound up shooting the father.

The 30-minute show will air during multiple times that are listed below, with other HBO playdates being April 23 (8:15 a.m., 7:00 p.m.); April 25 (8:30 p.m., 2:15 a.m.); April 28 (10:30 a.m., 1:00 a.m.); April 29 (8:30 a.m.); and April 30 (11:30 p.m.). The show will also be shown on May 1 (12:30 a.m.), and May 3 (2:00 p.m., 12:45 a.m.)

On HBO2, the program will air on April 26 (5:15 p.m.) and April 29 (12:25 a.m.); as well as May 2 (5:45 p.m.); May 4 (11:00 a.m.); and May 5 (4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT). The special will also be available on HBO On Demand and HBO GO.

Below are some of the subjects addressed by Mayweather during the interview.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. on how he is generally perceived:

“Because I’m outspoken, I’m judged. But we’re all judged. I feel that the majority of the time when somebody sees me, they have a thought. Instantly. I don’t know if it’s a good thought or a bad thought, but it’s a thought.

“Like I’ve said before, people worry about being judged. Who is and who ain’t going to like you. The thing is it’s just as long as you like yourself.”
On his dysfunctional life as a youth in a drug-torn family:

“I stayed with my dad for a certain period of time. Then, eventually, I moved in with my mother in New Jersey. There were seven people staying in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat. I mean, sometimes, no lights. My mother was on crack at one particular time.

“Eventually, I moved back to Grand Rapids Michigan to live with my father. I asked my mother can she move back also. She eventually moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was happy when she moved back, but she was back on drugs.

“I saw my dad sell my mother drugs. Those were things that I went through in life. But I’m a strong individual. I can get through anything. I think that’s what makes me a stronger person now.”

On Floyd Mayeather Sr.:

“I don’t want to say that my father wasn’t there for me, because if I say that, then that’s absolutely not true. My dad was only there for the boxing. To come and get me and take me to the boxing gym. But, when I think back on it, me and my dad have never been to a movie or anything else.

“Me and my dad have never been bowling or me and my dad have never been to dinner. We’ve never sat down and talked as father and son. Me and my dad’s relationship has always just been boxing. Nothing else. Just boxing. If it wasn’t about boxing, then it wasn’t about nothing.I try to be outside of the box and break the cycle.

“I go to both of my son’s football games. They play basketball. I don’t try to force nothing on my children. Boxing was forced on me. My dad did start me off. But it’s no hard feelings. It’s no hard feelings at all. Just because we don’t see eye-to-eye. He’s stuck in his ways.

“He don’t want me to love my mother because he feels that I owe everything that I’ve made and everything that I’ve done in the sport of boxing, he feels that I owe all of the praises to him. I just have to enlighten him and let him know that he’s not God.”

On his upcoming jail time:

“With my incident coming up, I don’t worry about that. I’m prepared for it. I’m pretty sure Martin Luther King’s been to jail. I’m pretty sure Malcom X has been to jail. There has been more that’s been to jail. I’ve taken the good with the good, I’ll accept the bad with the bad. It’s just an obstacle that’s put in your way. I can get through anything.

“Am I guilty? Absolutely not. You know, I took a plea. You know, sometimes, they put us in a no-win situation. I had no choice but to take a plea. I never want to drag my family through the mud. I didn’t want to bring my children to court. I’ve never raised my hands to my children. You know, I’ve got four beautiful children and I love them, dearly.

“I’m supposed to be going to prison in June, and the only thing I can do is to keep my fingers crossed and to hope for the best and to try to stay positive. Can’t nothing break me. I’m still going to be strong. If I’m locked up, I’m still going to make sure that my mother’s got the finer things in life, and my sisters. I take care of my whole family.”

On how he resisted the temptation of turning to a life of drugs as a teenager:

“I don’t think that no one will ever understand me. No one will ever understand my pain. I beat all odds. My dad had just went to prison, and my best friend was like, we had talked about getting into the drug game. We talked about it.

“I said, you know, ‘yeah, I’m with it. Let’s go.’ So we went over to this guy’s house. I was, say, 16. So we went over to this guy’s house, and something just told me ‘no.’ He said, ‘forget it, I’m going to do it.’ So he did it. And, he’s dead now.”

On the Jeremy Lin controversy:

“They say I’m racist, I guess. That’s what they say. I mean, just because I spoke on the Jeremy Lin situation? The same things that I say, a lot of NFL and NBA players want to say. But I don’t have no problems with saying it. But the last time I checked, I’m the only boxer. I’m outspoken. If I have an opinion on something, I speak my mind.

“As far as the Jeremy Lin situation, I spoke my mind. I just said that Jeremy Lin was a good player. That’s the first thing that I did say. I said but all of the hype is because he’s Asian. There are black players who go out there and do that day in and day out, which is true. You know, I’m not going to say what particular players in the NBA.

“But when I spoke on the Jeremy Lin situation, a lot of NBA players came to me and called my phone and said, ‘Floyd, thank you, you’ve said what we’ve been wanting to say all along.’ You know players have to be quiet, they can’t say nothing.”


On whether or not there is a racially-based resentment against him:

“When an athlete gets paid, I feel like they want you to be more like, you take your money, you sit back and you be quiet and you be thankful. It’s wild and crazy. But I’ve got Jewish people working for me. I’ve got Muslim people around me. Catholic, Christian. It don’t matter. It’s because I stand behind black Americans first.

“But it’s okay. It’s okay for Puerto Ricans to support Puerto Ricans. It’s okay for Cubans to support Cubans. It’s okay for every country to come over here to America and take their flag and wave it high and to support their own. So it’s a crime for me to support my people first? Black Americans first?”

On Muhammad Ali:

“Ali stood for a helluva cause. He stood for a helluva cause. Ali is the one that made you say, ‘You know what? I’m proud to be black.’ I know that me and Ali, right now, we would sit down and have a crazy conversation. He would say, ‘Floyd, you know, I’m better than you because I did this.’

“I would say, ‘well, Ali, I’m better than you because look at how many weight classes I went to.’ But, you know, on the flip side, I feel like it’s just like me. I feel like I’m in the same shoes as Ali. They hate me. They hate me when I’m at the top, but once my career is over, they’re going to really miss me.”

On money:

“Money is nothing but comfort. A person has a good job. They go to a dealership. They’re going to get a car that’s according to their budget.

“If you got money, you can go and say, ‘you know what? I want this car for Monday, I want this car for Tuesday.’ You want to go and buy that car because it’s for comfort. To move and to do what you want to do.”

On his inner circle and how he manages his money:

“I’ve got people around me with masters degrees. You’ve got to have brains to want to have brains around you. You’ve just got to surround yourself with smart people. Did I finish school?

“Absolutely not, because I knew what I wanted. I left school to put my mother in a better position and to take care of my family. Was it worth it? Absolutely, because I knew that school was going to always be there.

“But this opportunity that I had only comes once in a lifetime. And I’m surrounded with smart people, and that’s why I’m where I’m at in my career.

“People said that I’m an a–hole because I don’t want no new friends. You know, I say within my circle and only within my circle. I’m being honest. You know, like, we’re a family.”

On Obama:

“I had a chance to sit down with Obama before he got nominated. Barack Obama is truly a great guy. A great guy. The coolest president that I ever met. He’s got swag.

“People want to know how much power Floyd Mayweather’s got? I can guarantee you this. I show you how much power I’ve got. If I could fight Manny Pacquiao, I would let Obama walk me to the ring carrying my belt. Can I make it happen? Absolutely.”

On Pacquiao:

“I’m happy with how my career has gone. I have nothing else to prove in this sport to nobody. Do I want the Manny Pacquiao fight before my career is over? Absolutely. But if it don’t happen, it don’t happen. Right now, I’m going through a lawsuit of defamation of character lawsuit with Manny Pacquiao.

“Trash talking. Actually, I’ve never met him. I called him to make the fight…You can tell somebody is in his ear. Because he already knows. Like I said before, my offer is what it is. And my offer, it won’t change.

“I’m not budging. $40 million is what you are getting. Either you take it or you leave it. Like I’ve said before, Manny Pacquiao needs Floyd Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather don’t need Manny Pacquiao.”



Photos by Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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