Boxing and Race

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Over at PhD Octopus there's some good blogging about Bernard Hopkins' casually racist analysis of Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight:


If they were to fight, however, who would win? Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, aka B-Hop, the Philadelphia fighter and former middleweight champion, clearly favours Floyd. Why? Because of his race. "Floyd Mayweather would beat Manny Pacquiao because the styles that African-American fighters -- and I mean, black fighters from the streets or the inner cities -- would be successful," said Hopkins, according to Fanhouse.com. 

"I think Floyd Mayweather would pot-shot Pacquiao and bust him up in between the four-to-five punches that Pacquiao throws and then set him up later on down the line." Interestingly, Hopkins does not attribute Mayweather's advantage to any biological or genetic superiority. Essentially, his strength is one of culture. 

For as the article notes: Pacquiao fought and defeated Joshua Clottey of Ghana earlier this year, but Hopkins discounted that win, saying "Clottey is 'black,' but not a 'black boxer' from the states with a slick style." 

 Hopkins also said this: "Maybe I'm biased because I'm black, but I think that this is what is said at people's homes and around the dinner table among black boxing fans and fighters. Most of them won't say it [in public] because they're not being real and they don't have the balls to say it," said Hopkins, a 45-year-old future Hall of Famer and a multi-division champion. "Listen, this ain't a racial thing, but then again, maybe it is," said Hopkins. "But the style that is embedded in most of us black fighters, that style could be a problem to any other style of fighting."

Probably not. 

It's amazing how humans are almost hard-wired to see patterns, and connect dots that seem to make sense on the surface, but basically collapse under any degree of scrutiny. This seems especially so when through-line is bent in a manner that offers a flattering essentialist portrait.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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