The master of the shoulder roll that turned his son into one of the biggest figures in pop culture turns 66 today.
Some legends are made and then they are born. When you look at the phenomenal career of Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr., you cannot extricate the complex and complicated life of his father and trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr. Today on the birthday of arguably boxing’s best trainer and father-son boxing team, Floyd Mayweather Sr., we celebrate the life of a man produced by the realities of America.
Part of the triumvirate of brother boxers consisting of Floyd Sr., Roger Mayweather, and Jeff Mayweather, in order by age, you can say that if it wasn’t for Senior, the family with the blue-chip name in prizefighting possibly would have never entered through the ropes.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan native had his first pro fight in 1974 compiling a record of 15-1 until he met “Sugar” Ray Leonard in 1978. The two fought to the tenth and final round when Leonard ended the bout with a TKO at the 2:16 mark. It was then that Mayweather’s life changed, and not because of the loss to future legend Leonard.
See Mayweather lived by any means necessary credo to feed his family and that lifestyle was about to collide publicly with his more famous and controlled athletic person when he was confronted by a former street pharmaceutical partner wielding a shotgun.
Business had gone badly between the two men. Only one of them, however, was an accomplished enough pugilist to have taken the great Sugar Ray Leonard to a decision just four months earlier.
Floyd Sr. grabbed his former business partner by the throat at a local roller rink and let him go but the favor was returned with a 20-gauge shotgun and the threat of imminent death in his eyes. At that point, Floyd Sr. used his natural penchant for defense and picked up his young son, Floyd, Jr., who he held in front of himself as a human shield.
“If you’re going to kill me, you’re going to kill the baby, too,” Mayweather Sr. famously said to the L.A. Times. “[Floyd Jr.’s] mother said, ‘Give me the baby.’ She was pulling the baby out of my arms so her brother could shoot me.
“But I wasn’t going to put that baby down. I didn’t want to die. It wasn’t about putting my son in the line of fire. I knew [Sinclair] wouldn’t shoot the baby. So he took the gun off my face, lowered it to my leg and bam!”
This dramatically altered his boxing career and pronounced his soon trademark shoulder roll style defense to make up for his limited mobility. Mayweather boxed until 1990, posting a record of 28-6-1 and winning the U.S. Championship Tournament in 1977. At this time the youngest Mayweather won the national Golden Gloves championship in 1993 at 106-pound weight class at sixteen years old.
What would have been a celebratory moment was marred by his father’s arrest and conviction for cocaine trafficking. For the next five-and-a-half years, the future self-proclaimed “TBE” would be without the man who molded him and steered his family’s legacy. Still, like most family’s the uncles picked up the slack and former WBC junior welterweight champion Roger “The Black Mamba” Mayweather and eventually former IBO super featherweight champion Jeff Mayweather.
Now led by Roger, the young Mayweather made it to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics taking the bronze. He went pro that same year and began a career that would never see a blemish and would make him the highest paid athlete in the history of the sport.
In 1998, the year Mayweather Sr. was released from prison, Mayweather Jr. won his first world title from Genaro Hernandez with an 8th round stoppage that would make him the WBC and lineal super featherweight titleholder. The strained relationship between father and son was first revealed on the premiere of HBO’s popular 24/7 series that chronicled the historic matchup between Mayweather Jr. and Oscar de la Hoya. The two famously argued before the camera showing millions the hurt that existed between the two.
As Mayweather Jr. kept racking up the belts and wins, his heart softened towards his father and eventually both Senior and Junior decided that teamwork and bloodlines negate the negativity of the past.
Mayweather Sr. is the most visible and lead trainer at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas and Senior has worked with notable boxers such as Oscar de la Hoya, Chad Dawson, and Joan Guzman.
Senior was one of the first high-level boxing trainers to work with MMA fighters when he gave his expertise to former multiple time MMA champion B.J. Penn. Mayweather Sr. has been a part of the biggest boxing matches in history when Junior fought Manny Pacquiao and then Conor McGregor which stand at the number one and number two biggest pay-per-view fights in history.
Through it all, Mayweather has been here from the dreadlocks to the Caesar cut and the zoot suits to the athletic training gear, impressing all with his unique oratory skills to his amazing hand speed. The master of the shoulder roll that made his son one of the biggest figures in popular culture is his own man here and redeemed after crawling through a mile of shit to make it out alive.