Earlier this month, Gervonta Davis, the World Boxing Association lightweight champion and one of America's most prodigiously talented young athletes, was shown in a widely publicized video, smothering his son's mother in front of hundreds in a game charity basketball on the University of Miami campus.
O short incident clip, which has been seen more than 7.6 million times, is an upset stomach. But perhaps not for reasons immediately obvious at first sight.
Watch again and watch the shock on the girls' faces in the foreground as the scene comes on abruptly. Look at the man sitting to the left of the woman who literally gets up and walks away when Davis pulls her out of the chair. Look at the reaction of the security guard close to twice the size of Davis, who hardly blinks an eye, as if this were a common occurrence, as he allows the boxer to close his hands around the woman's throat before opening a path to drag. her inside. the darkness under the stands.
If Davis was putting his hands on a man in the same way, you can bet that a dozen other men would have gotten into the situation to end things. But it was a woman. And that happened while an entire group of children watched. Finally, nobody but Davis himself can be held responsible for what happened, but the perspective of indifference on display in those 14 seconds shows a chilling image.
Davis immediately took social media to control the damage as the video spread quickly, claiming "I never hit her" on her Instagram since then, just to voluntarily surrender to the Coral Gables police three days later, accused of simple domestic battery violence. THE arrest report acquired by the Guardian stated that a surveillance camera in the room in which they disappeared “shows a partial view of the defendant pulling his arm back and then advancing towards the victim, which is consistent with a blow to the face in which the victim suffered injuries to his lip and face. left jaw ”.
You are reading about this specific case just because Davis is a famous athlete. He faced the most difficult path of abject poverty in western Baltimore, learned to box with the trainer who inspired the character Cutty in The Wire and stood out for becoming the second youngest champion in the world at 22. He's the kind of homely property with an attractive backstory and crowd-pleasing style that makes US television executives salivate. Under Armor saw enough in Davis to sign you for a sponsorship deal and plaster billboards with your image, a rare advance of fashion in a sport that is increasingly ignored by leading brands. (A spokesman for Under Armor told the Guardian that the company split from Davis "a while ago" but did not answer follow-up questions about the terms of the contract and why he ended.)
But the story here is not Gervonta Davis. This is a copy that allows us to differentiate a single young black man who participates in a sport widely associated with violence, as if gender abuse was not happening around us, in all cultures and in all segments of society, with countless survivors afraid to report you or without the benefit of video footage to back up your claims. It is not about boxers being violent. Or athletes who participate in violent sports while being violent. Or even that athletes from distressed backgrounds are violent.
Men are violent. White and black, rich and poor. Impunity for violence against women is as universal a matter as possible. And everyone should call it when they see it, because the more we look the other way, the more it will continue to happen. And that is where boxing as an industry, specifically, is failing. The sport has shown time after time that it is structurally ill-equipped to hold offenders like Davis accountable and offer legitimate repercussions for his actions.
Gervonta Davis celebrates with longtime mentor Floyd Mayweather Jr after his 2017 victory over Briton Liam Walsh at London's Copper Box Arena. Photo: Alex Pantling / Getty Images
Athletes in the most popular sports in the United States, such as football, basketball and baseball, are finally being severely punished for gender violence, through suspensions or loss of endorsement deals, but we still have to see boxers face the same consequences. At some level, leaving aside the normalization of abuse of women in our society, it fits into the structure of how the general public understands a sport like boxing. Violence breeds violence, it is thought. But this is also a fallacy.
The problem is inherent in the sport's decentralized power structure. Boxers are hired independently and the absence of a central body means that any form of discipline would have to come from networks and promoters, who have a direct financial stake in a fighter's public profile and the ability to generate revenue. Any of the individual athletic commissions that sanction sport in each state can set foot on the ground and deny a fighter the necessary license to fight within his limits, but there will always be another state waiting with open arms to deliver a big event and the economic impact it brings to the yard. The same goes for the networks, in this case Showtime, which has invested very little in the broadcasts of Davis' last seven fights, both for premium cable and pay-per-view. They declined to comment on the matter, but their position does not require any extraordinary insight to guess. They are a publicly traded company that responds to its shareholders, fully aware of its rivals in a space where market share is a zero-sum game and would fall on themselves to sign with Davis if they dropped it. They want to be responsible, but they also want to stay in business.
The truth is that the same power brokers who dress up as the greatest sport in the world for a few nights a year are more than happy to spend the rest of the calendar in the shadows, where incidents like these barely break the news and can be marginalized during the next spinning promotion. Thus, once the commission has passed responsibility to the chain, and the chain has passed on to the consumer, the entire operation will depend on the public's indifference to violence against women.
There is simply no incentive to take a strong disciplinary stance when, repeatedly, it is proven that any stigma resulting from cases of gender violence does nothing to compromise a fighter's market value. In fact, many boxers were immediately rewarded, essentially taking advantage of their notoriety. Mike Tyson's first fight after serving a three-year prison sentence for a rape conviction, despite being a glorified exposure, remains one of the highest grossing events in the history of the sport. And Floyd Mayweather Jr, who has coached Davis for years, received a $ 250 million contract from Showtime and CBS just months after serving a 60-day sentence in a Nevada county jail for a 2013 domestic abuse conviction Annoyingly, promoting his first fight under the record deal, Showtime televised the infamous one hour infomercial, produced by Mayweather, who reformulated his incarceration as an obstacle to be overcome on the return path.
Boxers, contrary to public perception, are no more prone to violence outside the ring than anyone else. Leaving aside the many studies that show athletes in violent sports commit gender-based violence at a lower rate than the general population (as rates are unreliable and are essentially meaningless due to underreporting); anecdotally, anyone who practices boxing will tell you that sport does much more to combat the violence of adolescents who come from risky circumstances than to exacerbate aggressive tendencies, teaching its practitioners to control and channel extreme impulses for productive purposes.
In other words, I'm sure that what happened that night at Coral Gables has nothing to do with Gervonta Davis being a boxer. But until the machine profiting from him can find a way to put something between Davis and the next big payday beyond a mea mea Instagram, there is no incentive for him to take responsibility for his behavior and the cycle will repeat itself. The only question is whether someone with a seat at the table will care. No one, other than Davis himself, can be directly held responsible for what happened in that gym, just as no party is entirely responsible for an industry's inability to hold aggressors accountable. But, as is clear in these 14 seconds, it is impossible to deny the failure of the entire collective.
. (tagsToTranslate) Boxing (t) Sport (t) US Sports (t) Domestic Violence (t) Society (t) Floyd Mayweather