By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
A world-famous boxing champion is coming to Chicago to help a fellow fighter score a knockout.
On July 28, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will visit the DuSable Museum of African American History, hoping to deliver a powerful blow to gun violence in the city. Officials at the nation’s oldest Black museum say Mayweather is inspiring them to get back into the ring after suffering negative publicity from a string of embarrassing resignations from members of the board of directors.
Down, but not out, the DuSable Museum is mounting a “Rocky”-style comeback, hoping to boost its profile, membership and attendance by having one of the biggest names in the boxing world come to its facility.
Mayweather will headline a high-profile celebrity panel on gun violence at 5 p.m. in the auditorium. Called “Guns Down, Gloves Up,” the panel will include, along with Chicago native and tattoo artist Ryan Henry, rapper Bump J. and successful entrepreneur Corey Gilkey.
The panel is loaded with hometown heroes from activist D Nash, who, in 2017, walked from Chicago to Washington D.C. to raise awareness about the gun violence in Chicago.
Ryan Henry, who has a reality show, “Black Ink Crew Chicago,” based on his fledging tattoo business, opened his 9Mag shop west of Chinatown in honor of his sister, Nova, and 10-month-old niece, Ava. Both were gunned downed by Nova’s ex-boyfriend, attorney Fredrick Goings, in 2009. In 2013, Goings, 40, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder by a Cook County jury that deliberated a little more than four hours.
The celebrity-studded panel is expected to draw Chicago-area notables, political figures and citizens—all hungry for solutions to violence in the city.
Tickets for the event range from $30 to a special $5,000 VIP package that includes dinner with Mayweather and can be purchased at www.gdgu.eventbrite.com.
Born in Grand Rapids, MI in 1977, Mayweather is one of the most successful professional boxing champions in the world. Raised in a family of boxers, Mayweather turned professional in 1996. During this period, he moved up in weight class four times, taking home the WBC lightweight title in 2002, the WBC super lightweight title in 2005 and the IBF, IBO, WBC and IBA welterweight titles in 2006. In 2007, he defeated Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC super welterweight crown.
Undefeated, he has won all 50 fights with 27 knockouts.
Known for his flamboyance and bravado, Mayweather is one of the world’s richest and most well-known athletes. His 2017 fight against Conor McGregor in Las Vegas generated more than $550 million in revenue. Mayweather earned $275 million as the “A” side of the bout and for his role as promoter.
Mayweather’s $300-million earnings that year broke Tiger Woods’ record for money made by an athlete in a single year. The golfer previously held the record when he took home $115 million in 2008.
In 2015, Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao broke all previous records, grossing a reported $600 million. Mayweather took home at least $200 million by some estimates.
During his boxing career, Mayweather has helped generate nearly 24 million buys on pay-per-view for a total of $1.67 billion in revenue.
Perri Irmer, CEO of the DuSable Museum, is hoping Mayweather can do the same for the museum. In an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Irmer said a member of Mayweather’s group approached her after they were impressed by the jazz concert, “Sounds of History,” on July 18, that drew 3,000 people to DuSable’s lawn.
“It’s very exciting. We are proud and thrilled to partner with Floyd Mayweather on this wonderful event,” Irmer said.
With the positive publicity and expected crowds, Irmer plans to launch a massive membership drive to boost attendance and interest in the DuSable. “We are the vanguard of the nation’s oldest museum which educates Americans about our history at this critical time. We’re looking to reach a greater youth audience and more families.”
This past May, seven board members, including Chance the Rapper and his father, resigned simultaneously. The exodus generated bad publicity for the museum and raised concerns about the health and future of the iconic institution. DuSable’s annual fundraiser scheduled for June 23 was pushed back to October 12 following the en masse departures.
But the museum is pushing forward. In addition to hosting outdoor concerts, the DuSable unveiled a new exhibit in June. Called “Clearing A Path For Democracy: Citizen Soldiers of the Illinois Fighting 8th,” the exhibit documents the achievements of Black soldiers who fought in World War I. The group was awarded more citations than any other American regiment that fought along Europe’s Western Front.
On August 15, the DuSable will host another free concert as part of its “Sounds of History” jazz series, which will be a tribute to Etta James, Bessie Smith, Dionne Warrick, Koko Taylor, Roberta Flack, Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday, and Sade. Vocalists include: Lynn Jordan, Bobbi Wilsyn, Yvonne Gage, Joan Collaso, Tracye Eileen & Chicago’s Rising Star Divas: Rayzine Collaso, Zaji Nixon & Jessica Walton.
Irmer said there is nothing to worry about with the DuSable Museum despite the resignations on the museum’s board.
“That was just a blip,” she told the Crusader. “There are nonprofits all across the country that have issues. We have a wonderful board that’s aligned now, and we are excited about our future.”