Saudi Arabia on display as it might land Ruiz Jr. vs. Joshua II
In a sport, I love to death, but that sees promoter get rich off CTE and brain trauma of fighters it is no surprise, that ethics might get thrown out the window for large sums of money.
Matchroom CEO Eddie Hearn announced via Twitter that Saudi Arabia may land the Andy Ruiz Jr. versus Anthony Joshua rematch, a bout in which Ruiz stopped Joshua, and now Joshua viewed as the star-in-wait, now has to resurrect his career or become another “what-if” story in boxing. It is a terrific bout worthy of financial and emotional investment on all parts, too bad the location could overwhelm the fight for me as Saudi Arabia is ominous.
For those unaware, last October a U.S. based journalist was killed in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey. No verified story has come out on what happened, but Jamal Khashoggi walked into a consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, and then never reappeared alive. He was found dead later, oh, and by the way, he was a critic of the kingdom as well.
In the past decade, people have been sentenced to ten years in prison, multiple lashings and fines for tweets denouncing God, sharing tales of sexual exploits and other things we’d in the western world view as free speech are imprisonable. This is also not to mention that of the 37 reported executions this year, many have questioned whether the confessions of these individuals were done under the circumstance of torture or even worse written by someone other than themselves. The fact that is even brought up should give you a clue to the world’s view of their legal system.
Also, the role of women in boxing media is important from Michelle Joy Phelps to Cynthia Conte, we see a strong influx of women that reflects a diverse array of opinions, but that being said, Saudi Arabia is not opened minded towards women at all. In fact, just a few years ago, women were allowed to drive cars. The WWE, a professional wrestling organization, was unable to have female performers when they went to Saudi Arabia, but were able to have a female broadcaster call the action. Women can now attend sporting events, but in specific sectioned off zones.
In essence, in Saudi Arabia, women do not have rights, they’re the property of their husband and have to have permission from their husband to leave the country. In fact, if an act of domestic violence were to occur, a police report would not be taken, unless a male guardian signs off on it.
Also, if you’re not Muslim, tough luck. The country doesn’t recognize free religion, and public practice of non-Muslim religions is prohibited. This is vague and sketchy as what does that actively mean as who defines it what the act of another religion is. Furthermore, what are punishments for it, especially for foreigners?
In a country, in which bloggers are jailed and beaten, potentially one of the biggest boxing matches will be taking place their simply out of greed, and more so, we the boxing media are supposed to look the other way from the numerous human rights violations that have occurred here and just call the balls and strikes on the filed, despite the political climate here that essentially seems unfit for this type event.
The big problem is; big business looks at the following keyword, “WHAT IS THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT”? In this case, the new regime in Saudi Arabia is looking to bring big events to show a progressive undertone, while not having to put forth progressive policies. This boxing match and WWE are getting major money to be major pawns in a game of geopolitical posturing in a larger tug of war on the world stage.
In short, Ruiz vs Joshua II, if it happens in Saudi Arabia, will be nothing more than a prop, a symbol of change, amongst various human rights violation that will be hidden in the background.