By Jineea Butler
“Pretty Boy” Floyd hit the scene with the loud, over zealous crooners anticipating his ascension in 1993. He was handsome, he was sharp, he had young boy’s swag. I wondered who he would become. Floyd is now the highest paid athlete of all times.
At times even I questioned his ability as the greatest fighter, probably because some of his antics made me dislike him but if you watch him carefully he has mastered the art of boxing. Floyd’s flashy image, large entourage and excessive partying lead the way for the Money Team to brand his lavish spending habits and lifestyle choices.
During the ALS Ice Bucket challenge frenzy, 50 Cent decided to change the challenge and call out his former BFF Floyd Mayweather Jr. to read a full page of a Harry Potter book and 50 Cent pledged to give $750,000 to the charity of Floyd’s choice. Obviously, 50 Cent knew Floyd had trouble reading and this was just another ploy to publicly humiliate Floyd with 50’s attention grabbing shenanigans.
Charlemagne Tha God, a popular radio personality on NY’s Hot 97 Breakfast Club, took it a step further and released audio of Floyd stumbling through a PSA in the studio. The audio definitely exposed Floyd’s reading challenges. Floyd responded with pictures of his last two checks from Golden Boy Promotions and captioned it. ‘Read this.’ Fifty further insulted Floyd by challenging him to read ‘The Cat in the Hat’ on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The back and forth continued with an offer for 50 Cent to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas but Floyd took the high road and challenged 50 Cent to give $750,000 to the family of Michael Brown, the slain Ferguson, Mo. youth. We have yet to hear back from 50 Cent on that one.
While 50 Cent has spent most of his career clowning Ja Rule, Mobb Deep and a list of others, he always seems to hit them where it hurts. We heard Floyd say on numerous occasions that he came from nothing. We heard him say he raised himself. His father was locked up in his most impressionable years and his mother was on drugs; yet he managed to become the world’s greatest boxer and highest paid athlete. There has got to be some merit in that. So why is Floyd, the man we all love to hate? Why are we not applauding him with the same reverence of Jay Z, who sold drugs as an alternative to going to school?
For a while, I did not know what to make of Floyd. His arrogance, his constant boasting and throwing money around seemed childish. And that is exactly what he is, a child who willed himself to greatness in spite of ill-fated conditions he grew up around. His public rants are only defense mechanisms that developed from his lack of education and abundance of success. Now I get where Floyd feels the need to flaunt himself to the world. He is a walking dream. He feels the only thing that got him to the position he is in is his heart and determination to succeed.
Floyd chose a path that did not require him to read to make a living. Therefore, his reading comprehension and communication skills suffered as a result. You could never convince him that somewhere along the way he should have interrupted his training schedule to learn to read more efficiently. I am sure he has many people around who have no problem reading for him. So the issue really becomes does Floyd Mayweather Jr. think that it is important for him to be able to read and write proficiently and understandably?
I would like to see him take on the challenge of becoming a fluent reader, even finishing his GED. This is a great opportunity to show that education is always available no matter what your age. Floyd is obviously a man who is very disciplined; he does not drink or smoke and maintains a healthy diet to remain the best in his class. He could inspire millions of young men and women to get their GED, to stay in school and to never stop learning.
Even Muhammad Ali had difficulty reading and he started a program called “Go the Distance.” Let’s hope 50 Cent’s sick intent really helps Floyd stop avoiding and hiding from the inevitable task of learning to read for himself. We all have a part in making sure the people in our community become the best they can be no matter what the circumstances.
Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union is a Hip Hop Analyst who investigates the trends and behaviors of the community and delivers programming that solves the Hip Hop Dilemma. She can be reached at email@example.com or Tweet her at @flygirlladyjay.