They say politics and sport should never mix—but don’t try telling that to veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum.
The 84-year-old matchmaker is hoping to drum up interest for Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao v Tim Bradley rematch by delivering a jab to controversial Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Billed as the “No Trump” undercard, it will feature mostly Hispanic fighters in what Arum views as a gesture of solidarity with the Latino community.
Arum told AFP he felt obliged to act in the face of Trump’s campaign rhetoric branding Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and pledges to deport millions of undocumented workers.
“I have great roots in the Hispanic community and I’m horribly offended by the positions Trump has taken, the statements he’s making about these people being rapists and so forth, and deporting 11.5 million people,” Arum said.
“I felt this was an opportunity since I had these terrific Hispanic kids to put them together on a card. I want to speak to the Hispanic community.
“I’m reaching out to Mexican people because what I’m saying is that Trump is not a joke. Take him seriously. Organize yourselves. The way to fight this now is at the ballot box.”
Saturday’s card in Las Vegas will feature the unbeaten Mexican Gilberto Ramirez, who fights Germany’s Arthur Abraham for the WBO super-middleweight belt and former Mexico Olympic team boxer Oscar Valdez.
US Olympian Jose Ramirez is also on the card, an embodiment from the immigrant working class Trump has targeted.
Ramirez’s family moved from Mexico to work in Central California’s farming community and he himself worked in the fields in high school to earn money.
“I hope that people like me deliver a message that contradicts what Trump says when he speaks about Mexicans,” the 23-year-old undefeated lightweight told AFP.
“To hear the things he has said about Mexicans—they’re uneducated comments. We expect our President to have a little bit more education than that. It’s just so disrespectful.”
Arum, who entered boxing during the racially charged 1960s when he gave up work as an attorney for the US Justice Department and began representing Muhammad Ali, attributes Trump’s appeal to racism.
“People don’t want to say it but he’s appealing essentially to working class whites who see this country becoming, in 20 years or so, a non-majority white country,” Arum said.
“It’s all about racism. It’s not about jobs. They don’t want to go in the fields and do the work that the Hispanics are doing.
“It’s about them not wanting to be a minority in what they consider to be ‘their country’. And that’s what Trump is preying on.”