SPORTS

Canelo v. Mayweather: When Race Enters The Ring

Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a left at Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a left at Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (2013 Getty Images)

There is no question about it: Floyd Mayweather Jr. dominated Saúl "Canelo" Alvarez during Saturday night’s fight.

But many Latinos who heavily supported the Mexican boxer just couldn't take the blow and took to Twitter to voice heavily racist comments about the winner.

 

The punches were not just at Mayweather. Haters also took shots at Alvarez, who is Mexican, though focusing mostly on immigration.

Unlike other recent incidents that fueled racist comments on social media —  mariachi star Sebastien De La Cruz or most recently the election of Nina Davuluri as the new Miss America come to mind — the comments against the two boxers have remained under the mainstream societal radar.

Most commentary so far has taken place online, with sites like Latino Rebels seeking to foster a bigger debate surrounding the little-known controversy.

Federico Subervi, professor of journalism and mass communications at Kent State University, attributes the phenomenon to the fact that major media outlets are essentially not paying attention to it.

To make it visible, Subervi said, it would take a major Latino voice to amplify it and shine some light on it. He said those with the voice – usually politicians – do not get involved in the controversy because it would not work in their favor.

One person who did want to shine a light on the issue was Hector Luis Alano Jr., a social critic for Gozamos.com, who took to the Internet to discuss the reaction to the fight.

He wrote that instead of Latinos talking about Mayweather’s greatness, fans wrote ignorant and hurtful things apparently feeling ashamed because they believed "Canelo would win just because he’s Mexican."

“(They called) Mayweather everything from ‘pinche negro’ to ‘fried chicken eating ass’ and ‘cara de monkey,’” Alano wrote.

He went on to say the match was not a normal boxing fight, but instead a “race war” between Latinos and blacks.

In an email to Fox News Latino, Alano said the animosity between the two groups is likely due to both regularly sharing the same spaces – in inner cities – and competing for the same, ever-diminishing opportunities.

Alano, who grew up in Chicago where minority groups were segregated, added that nationalism also fosters animosity — even among Latinos.

“Yet, even though Canelo is Mexican, because Mexicans make up the majority of Latino Americans, a Mexican boxer becomes the ‘Great Latino Hope’ fighting for the pride of all Latinos,” Alano wrote.

Subervi said there is a long history of race battling in sports — remember incidents with baseball player Torri Hunter or with soccer player Luis Suarez?

He said people will find the worst thing they could possibility say about the other team or player, especially if their team or player is losing – almost all the time, they pick someone’s race.

“There is a long history of this,” Subervi said. 

He said he remembers going to basketball games growing up in Puerto Rico and hearing the racial epithets thrown at the only black player in the area.

“The racial epithets were disgusting,” he said. “You would say hello to him on the streets but in the heat of the game, those racial epithets would come out.”

He continued: “It’s sad, very sad.”

Alano said he feels race battling happens more frequently and fervently among Latinos in the United States in boxing, “which may be the last sport where blacks and Latinos dominate.”

“I call the bigotry many Latinos have toward blacks "racism," though I'm often confronted by friends and colleagues in Latino media who believe only the ascendant group, the group in power, is capable of racism,” Alano said.

He continued: “Call it racism, call it what you will — hating someone on the basis of their belonging to another race or ethnic group is ugly, no matter who does it.”

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