By Johnny Walker
Pity poor Adrien “The Problem” Broner.
The 23-year-old super featherweight soon-to-turn lightweight fighter from Ohio, who has HBO backing him as one of its next boxing superstars, has decided he’s a victim.
Speaking to RingTV.com of his upcoming lightweight debut against WBC lightweight champion Antonio Demarco (Nov. 17 in Atlantic City), Broner had this to say:
“I mean, [Demarco’s] the world champion at 135, and he just came off of some great stoppages, and so whatever I go in there and do, of course I want them to give me what I deserve. But just being me, and, you know, I’m an African American.
“So, you know, they’re going to always find something wrong, and they’re going to always find something to say. So that’s why I just do what I do, and I don’t even worry about the critics, man.
When pressed to clarify what he meant, Broner poured more gasoline on the fire:
“I really don’t want to get into it because I don’t want to make it a racial thing because I love the Hispanics, I love the Mexicans. You know, I love all races of people.
“But at the end of the day, man, we all know that it’s so hard for us. It’s so hard. I don’t really want to get into it, but you know what’s going on.”
So Adrien Broner thinks there is a media conspiracy to prevent African American fighters from getting credit … in the United States?
Could have fooled me.
If you ask any American who has the slightest interest in boxing to name some of the past greats of the sport, chances are some or all of the names you’ll be given are those of African Americans: Ali, Hagler, Robinson, Frazier, Foreman, Hearns, Leonard, and on and on. If there is a campaign to discredit African American fighters, it is miserably failing so far.
In fact, if there is a media bias that I have seen in recent times, it is a prejudice against European fighters. The dominant world champion Klitschko brothers, for instance, are routinely and blatantly and even nastily disrespected by some American boxing scribes in a such a way that would be unimaginable for past African American champions from Muhammad Ali to even Mike Tyson to be spoken of.
Don King even said that Wladimir Klitschko beat David Haye because the latter fighter was afraid to hit a white man in Germany, and most mainstream boxing scribes in America barely uttered a peep. The late boxing historian Bert Sugar openly mocked and ridiculed the world heavyweight champions from Ukraine every chance he got, and got away with it.
But of course it’s not politically correct to suggest that a bias against European fighters exists, and the Klitschkos are not the types to complain about the treatment they receive anyway.
As for Adrien Broner, he has been accused of being a Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. wannabe, and indeed these latest remarks of his sound very reminiscent of Money’s infamous tweets about former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin earlier this year.
“Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise,” Mayweather tweeted during the period of “Linsanity” that swept the NBA.
Perhaps Broner is hoping his latest opinions on race will get him some media attention similar to what Mayweather accrued with those incendiary racial remarks. And no doubt some pundits will even agree with what he has to say.
In Broner’s case, the resentment he’s voicing seems to stem from criticism the flamboyant fighter has taken for his unprofessional behavior (he blatantly refused to make weight for his last fight on HBO against Vincente Escobedo) and his personal life (he has four children out of wedlock with a fifth on the way).
If Adrien Broner is suggesting that his race should mean he is above all criticism, even when he’s acting in a manner which reinforces certain negative cultural cliches, and that criticism of him as an individual somehow equates to a bias against African Americans in general, that is indeed a “problem.”
It may seem odd to suggest that a man who is father to five children needs to grow up himself, but for Broner, the shoe certainly fits. It seems the narcissism that Broner acts out after his fights with his hairbrush routine is not just theater.