Widely considered the greatest boxer of his era, Mayweather tops Forbes’ official list of the highest-earning athletes of the last decade.
Mayweather was born on February 24, 1977, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born Floyd Joy Sinclair, he won three national Golden Gloves and an Olympic bronze medal before turning professional in 1996, according to Biography.com.
Mayweather is synonymous with boxing. His father, Floyd Sr., was a welterweight contender and his uncle Jeff Mayweather is a former WBA super featherweight champion.
Growing up with a mother who was a drug addict in a family that hardly survived the torture of poverty, Mayweather spent a chunk of his childhood under the care and warmth of his grandmother as his father was convicted of illegal drug peddling.
Lacking parental care and brewing with anger, Mayweather resorted to boxing as a platform to unload the outrage and the frustration of having to grow up without parental affection and care.
Mayweather’s life was complicated, according to Biography.com, and the elder Mayweather had a violent temper and drifted in and out of danger as a drug dealer.
Shot in the leg while holding his baby son in 1978, Floyd Snr. in 1993 was sentenced to prison on cocaine trafficking charges whilst his mother, Deborah, also dealt with substance abuse issues.
Mayweather claimed his first championship as a super featherweight in 1998, later accumulating titles in four other weight classes while retaining an undefeated record.
Mayweather’s career accelerated more from the year 2000 when he embarked on a seven-year stretch that had many fans eulogizing him as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
He moved up in weight class four times during the period, 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.
His success garnered increased earnings. In 2010, he was the third highest-paid American athlete, with an income of more than $60 million for the year.
Boasting of unmatched work ethic and the will to be the best ever, his victories and paychecks only fueled his already sturdy ego. In a sport built on bravado, he proved to be one of boxing’s most polarizing figures. “My goal has always been to be one of the best fighters who ever lived,” Mayweather recently said. “My career and legacy are very important to me.”
Ever since his boxing career started, Mayweather has been showered with a plethora of prestigious awards including Michigan State and National State Golden Glove Champion Award, both of which he won three times, The Famous People reported.
In 1996, Mayweather bagged the bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics Featherweight Championship. In 1998 and 2007, he won the International Boxing Fighter of the Year Award and The Ring Fighter of the Year Award.
He won the BWAA Fighter of the Year award thrice. He even won the Boxing Hall of Fame and ESPN Fighter of the Year award. He is a six-time winner of Best Fighter ESPY Award.
Ranked from The Ring number one Pound for Pound from 2005 to 2008, in 2016, Mayweather held three Guinness World Records for most bouts undefeated by a world champion boxer in a career, highest career pay-per-view sales for a boxer and for most expensive boxing championship belt of $1 million.
Mayweather did all the aforementioned and topped Forbes official of the highest-paid athlete of the last decade with $915 million net without sponsorships.
“I think his ability to harness the revenue to himself has arisen from two things,’’ said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime vice president, and general manager of sports and event programming.
“It’s the recognition early in his career that he wanted and needed to control his own marketing and image and how his events were presented. The second is he had the ability to make it big, extravagant and loud and eye-catching.
“Certainly other people have tried this business model. But trying this business model where you rely on your own blood, sweat, and tears to maximize your event doesn’t work if you haven’t built over time the kind of appeal that Floyd has. If Floyd wasn’t Floyd, then the business model wouldn’t work as well.”