Barry Hearn’s “Slave” Comments Expose Boxing’s Dark Past

Barry Hearn reaffirms boxing’s past plantation mentality with Dillian Whyte comments.

Premier English boxing promotion Matchroom Sports has been busy preparing Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs for Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas.

However, back in England, during a press conference for heavyweight Dillian Whyte, Matchroom Promotions founder Barry Hearn gave a polarizing backhanded compliment.

When talking about the Dillian Whyte-Oscar Rivas matchup, Hearn recalled the days when he and his peers engaged in “slave trade” tactics with the talent.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FsFO3KyoPNA

“Matchroom Sport has a fight by fight arrangement with Dillian Whyte,” said Hearn. “Isn’t that weird? He’s not tied up like the slave contract of yesteryear.”

“When I was running boxing, it was much easier,” he continued. “We were slave traders! We had these guys and they were working for us and we was the boss. The pendulum has swung. Now I have to say, ‘Mr. Dillian Whyte.’ I have to be respectful.”

The Problem With Honesty

Hearn concluded his statement with, “…and it’s really a nice position to be in because we can be honest with each other.”

However, the only honesty revealed is that the old guard are revealing their cave into the new dynamics of boxing. No longer are the promoters vultures of a blood sport.

Now, marquee level fighters have broadcasts and streaming options and more control over their careers.

Still, comments like Hearn’s feel like a lamenting former opportunist whose alliterations are based on an archaic, elitist viewpoint.

Whyte, who sat next to Hearn, laughed off the comment and didn’t make it an issue.

Following suit, during one of the biggest fights for his company, the media in Las Vegas haven’t pressed Hearn’s son, Eddie about it either.

But with countless athletes of color like Daniel Jacobs, Amir Khan, Anthony Joshua, and more signed to the company, it is a wonder how they feel about the situation.

Hearn is also involved in other sports, including pool, tenpin bowling, golf, table tennis and fishing. He is currently the chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation, and was the chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

With all the attention to his boxing business, Hearn’s son is leading that charge in a new friendlier athletic environment.

But the elder Hearn’s faux poetic wax explains a lot about how he became a British sporting oligarch and it was not through honorable means.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.