Terence Crawford claims Bob Arum’s ‘revolting racial bias’ hurt his career

Terence Crawford claims Bob Arum's 'revolting racial bias' hurt his career

This could be the most bruising legal boxing bout of all time.

Welterweight champion Terence Crawford is challenging famed boxing promoter Bob Arum in a bombshell lawsuit, claiming the promoter’s “revolting racial bias” prevented him from landing big fights and earning tens of millions of dollars, according to court papers filed in Nevada.

Crawford, who signed a deal with 90-year-old New York-born Arum and his company Top Rank in 2011, alleges in this complaint that Arum “Simply does not care about, support, or know how to promote Black fighters,” and deliberately didn’t build him into a marquee pay-per-view star.

Crawford, 34, famously split with Arum at a November 2021 press conference, saying he wanted to become a free agent to better land his dream bout with Errol Spence Jr.

The fighter has hired top attorney Bryan Freedman and is suing for almost $10 million — but the blows he rains on Arum in the lawsuit are far more damaging.

The lawsuit filed in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Nevada on Wednesday states, “Crawford shines a spotlight on the systemic racism that runs through Top Rank, Top Rank’s complete inability to properly promote Black fighters, and Top Rank, Arum and [his son-in-law] Todd DuBoeuf’s disparate treatment of Black fighters, including Crawford.”

Crawford alleges in further fighting talk in the filing, “Arum clearly allows his revolting racial bias to impact the fighters he is obliged to promote.”

Bob Arum.
Terence Crawford signed a deal with Bob Arum and his company Top Rank in 2011.
Anne Wermiel

The suit also mentions other big names in the sport — such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. — as having been mistreated by Arum, who scoffed at the legal allegations when reached by The Post.

“I haven’t seen the lawsuit yet, but it’s ridiculous,” he said.

It is alleged in the papers — exclusively obtained by The Post — that, “For years, professional boxers and others in the sports world have called out Top Rank’s owner Bob Arum for his disparate treatment of Black boxers, including those very same Black boxers that Top Rank is contractually obligated to promote.

“Because this is boxing, a sport with a checkered history, and because Arum is now dismissed as just a grumpy old white man, Arum continues to make racist and bigoted statements and purposefully damage the reputations of Black boxers without any consequences.

“This is generally because the affected boxers, who are in long-term contracts with Top Rank, fear that if they speak up, they will be placed on the sideline and not given the opportunity to fight during the life of their deal, which could be 5 to 7 years.”

Crawford is ranked as the world’s second-best active boxer, pound for pound, by ESPN, and has been making his case as the most talented fighter in the world.

His lawsuit alleges, “It is painfully clear that Top Rank, and especially Arum, judges people based on their race. Arum’s sordid history with athletes of color, especially Black fighters, and his bias favoring white and Latino fighters is well-documented and known throughout the boxing world.”

It continues by claiming, “Arum makes no secret of his deep-seated bias against Black fighters. For example, he called legendary Black boxer Floyd Mayweather ‘soft’ and claimed that he ‘shoots up cars’ — reinforcing an invidious racist stereotype with no basis in fact.

“He consistently mocks rival boxing promoter Al Haymon — who is a Black man — and his relationship with Black fighters, saying Haymon would steer a Black fighter away from fighting Crawford out of a sense of ‘brotherhood.’”

Terence Crawford.
Terence Crawford says that under Bob Arum, he was prevented from landing big fights and earning tens of millions of dollars.
Steve Marcus/Getty Images

The suit even counter-punches, “Arum even famously profited from staging fights in South Africa during the height of apartheid, dismissing the brutal and bloody regime as mere ‘politics’ and saying he did not care about it as long as he could make money.”

It adds, “Most egregiously, Top Rank Arum and DuBoeuf have allowed Arum’s bias against Black fighters to taint the treatment of Crawford, particularly once it became clear, in Arum’s mind, that Crawford would not be re-signing with Top Rank.”

Crawford also alleges, according to the suit, that Arum deliberately and negligently failed to build him into a pay-per-view star and instead publicly criticized him for not attracting enough views. Arum has repeatedly claimed Top Rank had lost money on Crawford’s fights.

In the papers it is alleged that Arum “Launched a smear campaign against Crawford to paint him as an unexciting, unprofitable fighter who could not draw viewers.

“In truth, Top Rank, a company with zero Black executives, and only two or three Black employees, refuses to admit that it simply does not care about, support, or know how to promote Black fighters.

“Recently, while most businesses have become sensitive to issues of race and social justice, Top Rank has not.

“At a time when most businesses took steps to honor Black lives in the wake of the George Floyd murder, Top Rank actually refused to place the Black Lives Matter logo on the mats of its boxing rings.

“Instead of standing behind a Black fighter such as Crawford, it publicly criticized him … Top Rank’s current smear campaign is deliberately aimed at punishing Crawford for possibly leaving Top Rank by making it harder for him to sign with a new boxing promoter.”

Bob Arum.
Terence Crawford famously split with Bob Arum during a November 2021 press conference, saying he wanted to become a free agent.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Crawford continues by claiming in the suit, “Tellingly, Arum has not subjected any of his white fighters to this kind of vicious, vengeful treatment. Clearly, Arum feels he is entitled to profit indefinitely off Crawford and other Black fighters, and he will retaliate whenever they dare to assert their independence.”

It adds, “In this action, Crawford seeks to right the wrongs inflicted on him by Top Rank. Top Rank has repeatedly breached its contracts with Crawford, and in fact defrauded him into entering agreements in the first place.”

The lawsuit concludes, “Since Top Rank … will not police themselves, do the right thing and move forward as a responsible business in 2022, Crawford, who backs down to no one, will make them do so … Arum has made millions off the backs of boxers of color, including Black boxers. His racist attitudes pervade every aspect of his dealings with Black boxers like Crawford.”  

In 2018, Crawford was paid $3.5 million for a fight with Jose Benavidez Jr. and $4.8 million to take on Amir Khan, the papers state.

In 2019, Crawford had just one fight, for which he was paid $4 million. Then in 2020, Crawford was paid $3.5 million to fight Kell Brook.

In 2021, he earned $6 million for a Shawn Porter bout, the papers claim, adding that Top Rank owes Crawford “no less than $4.5 million” for failing to provide him with a second fight in 2019.

Crawford also alleges other boxers of color including Mayweather Jr. have also suffered from Arum’s alleged racism.

Arum famously said in a 2009 interview of Mayweather, “The son of a gun doesn’t fight … Outside the ring, yeah he shoots up cars. He does other things like that and he entertains. But in the ring, he is not an entertaining fighter.”

He went on to label UFC fans “a bunch of skinhead white guys watching people in the ring who also look like skinhead white guys” and stated that the fighters are “guys rolling around like homosexuals on the ground.”

Mayweather hit back by telling AllHipHop.com in 2008 that Arum is “biased against Black fighters; he leans towards Hispanic fighters and keeps them on PPV” and that Arum favors Latino fighters over Black fighters: “He tried to install in our minds that Blacks can’t sell PPV [pay-per-view] or sell out arenas. But that’s not true; we are known for having the best entertainers and the best athletes.”

Arum is also accused in the suit of trash-talking Crawford, allegedly saying, “He may be the greatest fighter in the world, but, hey, I ain’t going bankrupt promoting him,” and, “I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights.”

UFC’s Dana White even gets a response in the lawsuit, which quotes him as saying of Arum at a press conference, “You f–king signed a deal with this kid, your job is to promote him … Pay your f–king fighter what you owe him, that’s your job. Bob Arum is a piece of f–king s–t.”

Arum is a former attorney in the tax division of New York’s Southern District Court and had worked as a DOJ attorney during the Kennedy administration. In 1966, after being introduced to the world of boxing when he represented a promoter in a 1965 bout, Arum became a promoter and later credited Muhammad Ali with teaching him how to do the job.

During the 1980s, Arum became a driving force behind the sport, built a huge rivalry with Don King — who called him “Lonesome Bob” — and promoted superstars including Michael Carbajal, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales. Arum also promoted the legendary champion Julio César Chávez.

He was also sued by De La Hoya, who was legally released from his contract with Top Rank in January 2001.

In 2007, Yahoo Sports reported, “Floyd Mayweather Jr. essentially accused Arum, who promoted him from the beginning of his career in 1996 until 2006, of underpaying him, exploiting his talents and manipulating officials.”

Mayweather said he made more money in two fights without Arum as his promoter than he did in his previous 30 fights working for him. “That’s the middleman,” he said. “Cut the middleman out and see what you can get. You were talking about paying me $2 or $3 million when it really should have been $6 million. And once I cut the middleman out, it became $15 or $30 million.”

But — despite being Arum’s nemesis — King stood up for his fellow promoter, stating, “Someone has to make a person big. You’re not born big. I understand what you’re saying, Floyd. But you also have to understand how you got to where you are so you could go and make all this money. Remember him … It was his talents as a fighter and Arum’s talents as a promoter, combined, that did it.”

Crawford is demanding a jury trial where damages — expected to be up to $10 million — will be decided.

Meanwhile, despite Crawford’s claims, the boxing world remains in doubt that a Crawford v. Spence bout billed as “the ultimate welterweight showdown of this generation” could even take place because Crawford hasn’t been built into a big pay-per-view star.

Premier Boxing Champions’ VP of communications, Tim Smith, recently said, “You don’t want to insult Crawford, but he hasn’t been built into a PPV star. … The numbers won’t be enough to give him what he wants.”

Plus other boxing analysts have said, “The only color Bob Arum sees on a fighter is green.”

Crawford’s attorney Freedman added, “The fact that Bob Arum would call a lawsuit he hasn’t even seen yet ridiculous is a prime example of his arrogance and lack of concern for his fighters.”

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