In the United States, athletes often have a profound impact on our culture. Whether it is for their astonishing accomplishments in their sport of choice, their philanthropy, or their personal stories of overcoming great odds, athletes are some of the most inspiring people in our society. Folks across the United States bond over athletics, with the stories and triumphs of our favorite athletes becoming collective expressions of our own hopes and dreams.
When I think of the importance of athletes in the United States and their power to inspire us all to be something better, one of the people I think of is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a boxer who was born in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. After becoming a world famous boxer, Mayweather never forgot his hometown and has consistently worked to make Grand Rapids a better place.
A Storied Boxer from Grand Rapids, MI
For those like me who do not follow boxing, Mayweather’s athletic achievements may not be known. Mayweather is an incredibly successful boxer, having been undefeated in his professional boxing career. He has won forty-one consecutive fights-by all accounts a staggering number-with twenty-five wins by knockout. He has won five belts in five different weight classes. Moreover, Mayweather won a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
He continues to be one of the most sought after boxers and rumors of potential fights are big news in his hometown of Grand Rapids and across the United States.
Remembering His Roots: Giving Back to Grand Rapids
However, while many people know Mayweather for his reputation in the ring, many Grand Rapids residents like me know Mayweather for his philanthropy and his well-deserved reputation for giving back to the Grand Rapids community.
Over the years, stories-both in the news media and through word-of-mouth in the community-have spread about Mayweather’s generosity. Many residents can share stories of how Mayweather has affected the Grand Rapids community. Whether it is reports of Mayweather buying coats for school children standing at bus stops in the cold Michigan winter or other acts of charity.
Personally, I am most interested in the concrete ways Mayweather has given back to his hometown. While personal generosity is great, I do not consider giving large tips to service industry workers or individual acts of charity to be philanthropy. That said, I have to say that I have been impressed with the effort that Mayweather has made. He has made a solid effort to blend his personal generosity with goals-oriented non-profit work.
Back in 2007, Mayweather created his Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation and announced its creation in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, a popular hangout spot for inner city youth. While the Foundation is no longer located in Grand Rapids (it has moved to Las Vegas), it has an impressive history of accomplishments. The Foundation’s mission statement reads: “The Floyd Mayweather Foundation empowers and encourages community alliances, impacts youth leadership and strengthens family foundations through community development, entrepreneurialism and education resulting in a healthier community.” To this end, the Foundation runs a boxing camp, a mentoring program for young women, and programs aimed at aiding the public education system. All are programs that have specific and measurable goals-and most importantly-make concrete differences in people’s lives.
When it comes to specific actions that have improved Grand Rapids, Mayweather has also repeatedly delivered. For years, he and his foundation have donated money to give Thanksgiving turkeys away to those in need. In 2008, Mayweather donated $140,000 to fund the national Golden Gloves tournament in Grand Rapids. Mayweather participated in Golden Gloves before launching his professional career and it is an organization that helps keep at-risk youth off the streets in Grand Rapids. Beyond these actions, Mayweather has helped to organized toy drives at Christmas and helped to fund various charities, youth, and sports programs.
These are clearly the acts of a man who cares about his roots.
Mayweather’s Actions: A Reflection on his Background
For me, Mayweather’s actions are a source of pride and inspiration. He is a shining example of an athlete that is willing to give back to those-who like him-come from less fortunate backgrounds. Given his life story and his own hardships growing up, it is no surprise.
Those of us living in Grand Rapids, Michigan have been lucky to see our hometown hero make good-becoming a successful boxer and a successful philanthropist. Sure, it’s been sad to see Mayweather relocate to Las Vegas, but he always seems to come back-whether it is to throw public parties offering entertainment for the whole community or to fund important youth projects.
“Floyd Mayweather, Jr.”, Wikipedia.org.
Jeremy Silkowitz, “Floyd Mayweather Plans Retirement Party in Grand Rapids,” BoxingScene.com.
Tarek Jammal, “Floyd Mayweather Jr: A Hometown Hero Who We Want to Lose?,” BleacherReport.com.
“Mayweather Jr. announces creation of charitable foundation,” USAToday.com.
“Floyd Mayweather Makes It Rain Turkeys For Thanksgiving,” YouBeenBlinded.com.
“Floyd Mayweather To Cover Cost of National Golden Gloves Tournament Of Champions,” TFMJF.org.
TK Stewart, “The Floyd Mayweather, Jr. You Don’t Know,” BoxingScene.com.
Kevin Iole, “The hidden side of Floyd Mayweather Jr.,” Yahoo! Sports.