Former boxing champ Jean Pascal jumped on the ignorant, homophobic train many in his sport seem to be aboard, when earlier this week he gave an interview calling out UFC star Nick Diaz.
In the video, Pascal says he would fight Diaz in the octagon, but under boxing rules. He goes on to say that UFC fighters “claim they can box. But I don’t see that,” before following up with the now tired, and not so subtly homophonic aspersion that too many boxers levy against ground fighting: I don’t get on the ground with other men.
“To go on the ground with another man, it’s not my thing. I’d rather to go on the ground with a woman.” he said, laughing. “I’m a fighter,” he continued. “I’m not a UFC wrestler….boxing, it’s art.”
The homophobia laced throughout, coupled with his willful lack of knowledge about grappling and insistence that real fighting takes place on the feet is as offensive as is the public’s continued tolerance of such drivel.
If one’s personal preference is for stand up fighting, that is fine. However, it is incumbent on the combat sports community to stop allowing the “grappling is gay” trope to be an acceptable thing. To say grappling is not an art, or not a “fight” is one thing; statements of that kind only demonstrate how clueless the person holding such an opinion is. But when we allow people to imply they don’t grapple because it is somehow gay, is to be permissive of a level of homophobia that has no place in 2017.
Diaz, a long time fan favorite, has yet to take a fight since serving a suspension for marijuana use. In spite of the lack of activity, there is no shortage of potential opponents. He has been called out by UFC Welterweight Champion Tryone Woodley, along with a number of UFC fighters seeking out their own “money fight,” which Diaz is perceived to be.
Pascal’s call out is further evidence of the Stockton native’s drawing power, and the depth to which escalating talk of a super fight between Connor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather has penetrated both sports.
To paint the entire boxing community as homophobic because of comments like Pascal’s would be as closed minded as his belief grappling is gay. I’m certain there are plenty within the boxing world who respect it as a fighting art. I’m equally certain there are people in MMA with less than tolerant views on same-sex relationships; they just don’t express that by decrying ground fighting. Neither fact absolves either sport from taking responsibility for policing this kind of hate-speak.
It’s time to start calling these people out the way they are calling each other out for these much sought after money fights. We cannot respond to their subtlety with our own. They should be put on blast, their fear and ignorance hyped up like pre-fight trash talk. Don’t be scared, homie. Let’s hit these creeps where they live.