On June 3rd, 2020, FloSports released a statement on its social media accounts in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
The statement — comprised of four tweets with black backgrounds, white text, and a caption that read ‘We Stand With You’ — included a declaration that “FloSports is committed to equality and the fair treatment of every citizen of this country.”
“We will not accept prejudice in our community and will use our platform to celebrate Black athletes and coaches to amplify their stories, their lives, and their experiences. We will continue to listen to each other and look inwards to improve our own culture.”
While the statement is an attempt at solidarity and introspection, it fails to address some of FloSports’s concerning affiliations, including its employment of Gordon Ryan, a renowned BJJ champion who also happens to be documented and known for his racist comments.
Ryan, 24, is a 3-time ADCC world champion, an IBJJF No-gi world champion, and a four-time Eddie Bravo Invitational champion. He holds a documented 140-8-3 submission grappling record, which includes wins against Dillon Danis, Keenan Cornelius, Kyle Boehm, Garry Tonon, Alexandre Ribeiro, Romulo Barral, Gabriel Arges, and MMA fighters Josh Barnett, Aleksei Oleinik and Gabriel Gonzaga.
The self-proclaimed “king” of grappling, who has been a dominant force in the sport for several years now, has also made a name as one of the most controversial and unsavoury figures in the sport, particularly with his racist and xenophobic comments and social media posts.
In April 2020, Ryan sparked outrage when he shared a parody trailer dubbed ‘Star Wars: Rogue WUHAN’ that depicted Chinese people as hunters of alien meat after devouring all animal life on Earth. The trailer is a collage of scenes from various Sci-Fi films featuring Chinese actors, such as “The Wandering Earth.” Ryan posted the video on his Instagram account with the caption “Donald Trump sent me this.” It has since been deleted.
More recently, Ryan took aim at the Black Lives Matter protests that are taking place throughout the United States and across the world. His Instagram account is peppered with far-right talking points, including his glee at Trump deploying the U.S. military, ANTIFA conspiracies, and claiming that systemic racism does not exist.
Despite Ryan’s repeated transgressions, he was given his own live show with Michael Sears on the FloGrappling 24/7 channel in April 2020. The organization knew it was capitalizing on a controversial figure, as its press release began with the sentence, “The haters[sic] greatest nightmare is here.”
The talk show takes place twice a week and has featured guests such as former UFC champion Georges St. Pierre, Mario Lopez, Tom Deblass, and Israel Adesanya.
While FloSports publicly decried racism in its official statement in support of Black Lives Matters last week and declared that it plans to “look inwards to improve our own culture,” the organization has yet to address its continued employment of Ryan, or taken any action against the grappler for his xenophobic and racist statements.
If FloSports is serious about its anti-racist message, it should prove it with actions instead of hollow statements.
FloGrappling has not responded to a request for comment.