The boxing stars fighting for Black Lives Matter

Jun 15, 2020

Some of the world’s biggest boxing stars have been speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

 The tragic death of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis in May has broken hearts and sparked protests across the globe. Video footage showed white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck despite him repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe”.

Many people around the world are demanding justice not just for George, but for all black people who face daily inequalities and systemic racism in society.

After George’s death, boxing legend Floyd Mayweather reportedly offered to take care of the funeral expenses for the family.

A source told celebrity gossip site TMZ that the champ "is just doing what he feels is right in his heart.” A TMZ photo shows a cheque made out by Mayweather for $88,500, around £70,000.

Another boxer using money to show support for the cause is Somalia-born English and British boxing champion Ramla Ali.

Ali has promised to donate part of her professional boxing earnings to Black Lives Matter charities. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, Ali said: “It’s the only way that I could ensure I was doing something. It’s not enough to just post the black square on social media or say that I’m going to the protest. You need to show that you’re doing more.

“My hope is that other professional athletes, musicians, entertainers in the UK and maybe in the world follow suit and do the same with their earnings. I believe that money is the language that the world and everyone in it understands, no matter your race, your country, your religion.” 

Other boxers have been using television and social media to spread the Black Lives Matter message.

Undefeated cruiserweight contender Lawrence Okolie gave a speech to Sky Sports saying he’s hopeful that this time real change will come.

He said: “There is a difference between this Black Lives Matter movement and the majority which I've seen in my short life so far. There seems to be a rise in consciousness. More people are aware of it. This has probably been the biggest civil rights movement since the 1960s.

"I'd like to see more of the infrastructure being a lot less difficult for ethnic minorities. Socially and economically, whether it is intentional or unintentional, there is stuff to keep black people down. I feel like the infrastructure in society is slightly racist and that is one of the most important things to tackle."

 Meanwhile, some boxers have joined protests against the inequalities faced by the black community.

Three-weight world champion Claressa Shields spoke to crowds in her hometown of Flint in Michigan and says she felt inspired by the experience.

Talking to Sky Sports News, Shields said: “Me speaking and everything - I wasn't even prepared for any of that. But I felt empowered, seeing 'Black Lives Matter' and 'No Justice, No Peace', and having people from all different backgrounds agree.

"Enough is enough, that's what I think. Being able to see George Floyd in the flesh, on camera, take his last breath, and then also call for his mother, I think reminded everybody that regardless of how they think of us as black people, we've still got mothers.” 

Possibly the most high-profile example of a boxer attending protests came when unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua spoke at a Black Lives Matter rally in Watford.

In a speech that was later shared via his Instagram, Joshua said: "We can no longer sit back and remain silent on these senseless, unlawful killings and sly racism on another human being - based on what? Only their skin colour.

"The virus has been declared a pandemic. This is out of control. And I'm not talking about Covid-19. The virus I'm talking about is called racism. We stand united against a virus which has been instrumental in taking lives of the young, old, rich, poor; a virus which is unapologetic and spreads across all sectors."

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