The fight between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy which is scheduled for March 2017 is very important from a cultural, economic, and revolutionary standpoint. I’m very excited about this fight and I’m actually contemplating flying to Las Vegas to watch it all go down live in person. And no I am not a 19-year-old woman with a crush on either one of the combatants nor am I a 19-year-old aspiring rapper with a mixtape to sell. I am, however, a witness to the transformative properties of boxing. Here are three reasons why Chris Brown Vs Soulja Boy could be the most important match of the 21st century.
The murder rate in predominately African-American communities is disproportionately high. Chicago alone recorded 762 murders in 2016. That’s over two murders a day! It seems as though every dispute—no matter how petty—is settled behind the trigger. Sometimes innocent women and children are caught in the crossfire. This is why we need young men in the ghetto who are full of anger and testosterone to put their guns down, get their hands up and fight. Chris Brown and Soulja Boy had a beef which, according to Soulja Boy, began because Chris Brown found out Soulja Boy had gotten too close to a few of Chris Brown’s ex-girlfriends. And then thanks to Instagram and other forms of social, it got ugly. They went back and forth and Soulja even posted a picture of Chris Brown’s daughter which of course infuriated the R&B singer.
In present day Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Houston this is more than enough to justify murder. At the very least Chris and Soulja have enough influence to control any young goon in America to do their bidding. But they have chosen not to engage in a proxy war which would probably bring some form of tragedy to several Hollywood and Atlanta after parties, instead they have chosen to fight one another the old-fashioned way—with their gloved fists. That is admirable. It takes tremendous heart to get inside the ring and fight for three rounds. It does not take any heart to gun a man down or disrespect him on social media.
Boxing ain’t easy
The general public needs to know that just because you won a fight during lunch recess in the 6th grade, or you used to routinely beat the hell out of your little brother, or you knocked out some loud-mouthed drunkard at the club last week does NOT mean that you can actually fight. The craft of boxing demands skill and not rage. At the novice level an amateur boxing match is three, two minute rounds. Now I want everyone who is reading this to think about every fight that you have ever had. Then think about how long it actually lasted. If you have never participated in boxing, then your longest fight was probably no longer than 30 seconds. My point is that it takes tremendous mental fortitude to go toe to toe with another trained fighter who is trying to put you to sleep for two minutes straight. It will be interesting to see how Chris and Soulja respond when they throw their hardest punch and their opponent is still there and still fighting. The truth is that when we fantasize about fighting our bosses, or the dude that cut us off on the freeway, or the racist snobby lady that makes the snarky passive aggressive comment while in line at the grocery store, it always ends in a knock out. As the fantasy goes; you ball up your fist really tight, reach back as far as you can and punch the shit out of that person. Then they fly in the air and when they finally come back down to earth they are completely unconscious. Then you slowly walk away but not before screaming something like; “What bitch!” “You got knocked the fuck out!” “I quit this job mutha fucka!”
Of course, when you’re in a boxing ring fighting another trained fighter it doesn’t work that way. If you load up on your punches (that is to rear back before you throw) then your opponent simply slips the shot and counters you. Or if you land the shot then your opponent will more than likely step to you and try to land a hard shot of his own. In our violent fantasies, we all possess brutal one punch knock out power but in real life this is a very rare gift. That’s why boxers are trained to throw combinations and then get out of the way. There’s also the crazy amount of stamina that it takes to fight an amateur bout. You have to do some facet of training every single day of the week. You need to spar, run 6-10 miles a day, shadow box excessively, and give up junk food. It will be interesting to see if two young men who drink alcohol, do drugs, and are adored by millions of women around the globe are willing to do what it takes to be victorious in the ring. They won’t be able to take their crews into the ring with them, they won’t be able to call timeout when they’re tired, and they won’t be able to get their trainers (Floyd Mayweather for Soulja Boy and Mike Tyson for Chris Brown) to fight for them. They’ll have to dig deep within themselves in a way that they probably have never had to do before.
Boxing picks up where the negro leagues left off
With all the contributions that African-Americans have made to football, basketball, and baseball the fact remains that of those three major American sport that embody about 100 franchises there is only one team that is owned by a black person. We see African-Americans running, dribbling, dunking, and posturing on television. And we also see them in suits that costs thousands of dollars while fielding questions at press conferences. We know how many millions of dollars they make and we think they are rich, however, one should point out that they make nothing compared to the rich white guy who writes their checks. For all of their fame and endorsement deals they don’t own anything and African-Americans haven’t owned the franchises that they play in since Major League Baseball forced the Negro Leagues to disband.
Boxing, however, is different. As notorious as Don King is he ushered in a wave of black ownership that is needed not only in sports but in black communities as a whole. Most African-Americans live in neighborhoods that are economically underserved and the few businesses that we do have are owned by Arabs, Koreans, or Pakistanis. One could debate the reasons for this but one cannot debate the fact that it is true. What Don King was able to do was to put on completely black events from top to bottom: from the back of the house to the front of the house. That is to say from the athletes to the executive, which in Don King’s case was always him. By accomplishing this task King cut a hole in the ceiling, a hole which Al Haymon was able to walk right through.
Al Haymon is the manager (but more like a business partner) to Floyd Mayweather and a host of other very talented fighters in the sport of boxing. Like Don King he is from the Cleveland, Ohio but unlike Don King he does not exploit his fighters. He gives his fighters a larger cut of the profits than any other manager/promoter ever has. So much so that Floyd Mayweather once said; “If I would have had Al Haymon from the beginning [of my career] I probably would be a billionaire by now.” Al Haymon promoted the richest fight in boxing history: Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao. And Al Haymon is a black man. It would be impossible for one to imagine a black person or company producing the World Series, the Super Bowl, or even the NBA All Star game. Not only that, Al Haymond refused to allow Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, who is white, to get any percentage of the revenue from the fight. That would never happen in any other sport.
Chris Brown Vs. Soulja Boy will be brought to you entirely by Floyd Mayweather’s The Money Team/Mayweather Promotions so in essence to support this fight is to support black business. Black people spend an estimated 1.2 trillion a year on cars, jewelry, hotels, restaurants, and tickets to support sports franchises that do not belong to us. This fight is a rare exception.
As a fan of boxing and as a progressive African-American man that is tired of my culture clinging to the very bottom of American-Society. I’m tired of homicide and black male behavior being synonymous, I’m tired of the high rate of obesity among our children, and I’m tired of other people of color setting up shop in the black community selling us alcohol and inferior goods. Perhaps what I am most bothered by is how so many African-Americans take a natural attitude towards our own self-hatred and oppression. If Chris Brown and Soulja Boy have an intense exciting fight and then hug and show respect to one another after their fight is over, then maybe they will start a trend that will bring together the eight trays and rolling sixties of South Central Los Angeles and the black disciples and gangster disciples of the Southside of Chicago. Maybe young men will learn how to lose with honor instead of coming back to the block with a pistol and shooting at everything moving. If the winner of the fight can have pride and the loser remain dignified, then maybe young black men will choose life instead of death and seek freedom instead of incarceration. Maybe.
At any rate whether on pay per view or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas I will definitely be watching.