Black mamba snakes live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa.
They are Africa’s longest, most venomous snakes and are among the fastest in the world. It is for this reason why two elite athletes decided to take on the moniker for their athletic performance.
Enter Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Roger Mayweather. The boxing icon passed away on March 17th at age 58. Today would have been his 59th birthday. Many know the Las Vegas transplant as Floyd Mayweather, Jr‘s uncle and the inventor of the “you don’t know sh*t about boxing” phrase.
However, the Original Black Mamba was much more than that.
Born on April 24, 1961, Roger made his pro boxing debut in 1981 with a first-round technical knockout of Andrew Ruiz after going 64-4 as an amateur.
Roger Mayweather had a professional boxing record of 59-13, with 35 knockouts. He won titles at 130 lbs and 140 lbs over the span of an 18-year career that began in 1981. His opponents read like a who’s who of boxing royalty; Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker among the many.
He won the World Boxing Association junior lightweight title in 1983 with an eighth-round knockout of Samuel Serrano. Then in 1987, he earned the World Boxing Council junior welterweight title with a sixth-round knockout of René Arredondo.
The Original Black Mamba was a two-time champion and when one of his other two boxer brothers, Floyd, Sr. went to prison, Roger stepped up for Jr.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. turned pro in 1996 after receiving a bronze medal in the Olympics. That’s when Roger began slowing down his athletic career becoming his nephew’s full-time trainer. When Floyd Mayweather Sr. was released from prison in 1998, he took over until Floyd Jr. fired his father in 2000 and brought his uncle back.
Roger showed he had his family’s back during heated encounters. He was suspended for a year and fined $200,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission during the junior welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Zab Judah in 2006.
Judah fouled Mayweather hard twice near the end of the 10th round and Uncle Roger stormed the ring like a ‘G’ getting into it with Yoel Judah, Zab’s father and trainer.
Always the voice of reason and a stalwart presence at the Mayweather Boxing Club, Roger Mayweather’s legacy lives through the success of his nephew. The Boxing Writer’s Association of America’s Fighter of The Decade is Floyd, Jr. and his defensive style and acumen can all be attributed in part to the dedication of his uncle.
Another Mamba Rises
Enter Kobe Bryant, son of Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and a Philadelphia native turned Italian ex-pat.
The young Kobe was born with basketball in his veins. From watching his father play professionally to taking the sport on for himself, the word prodigy is all that comes to mind.
After spending his youth in northern Italy, Kobe came back to Philly and dominated at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA. In ’94-’96, Kobe Bryant was a beast in high school. He started freshman year on the varsity team and quickly becoming the team’s best player.
Pure basketball led Kobe to become a McDonald’s All-American, Gatorade Player of the Year, Naismith High School Player of the Year and more. A unique focus made him a high school champion winning his school’s first chip in 53 years.
Kobe was the first guard drafted directly out of high school when he went to the Los Angeles Lakers. He would never have another athletic home for twenty years.
At 23 years old, Bryant became the youngest player to win three championships. Bryant’s reputation as a clutch player was cemented during this time. His performance in the fourth quarter of games, specifically the last two rounds of the playoffs are now legendary. Kobe would go on to win 5 championships with the Lakers over his twenty-year professional career.
He would become a 2x NBA Finals MVP and an 18x NBA All-Star.
Unfortunately, after an amazing second act as an entrepreneur, motivator, and much more, Bryant lost his life along with his daughter Gigi Bryant and 7 others in a helicopter crash. The fact that they were on their way to a girl’s basketball game underscores how committed he truly was.
Black Mamba’s Matter
The original Black Mamba is 2x weight division boxing champion and uncle to Floyd Mayweather, the late Roger Mayweather. He popularized the term, “you don’t know sh*t about boxing.” The younger Black Mamba showed us all we didn’t know sh*t about basketball as he raised the levels of hard work and greatness upward.
Although the two were generations apart their impact and names will live forever.