clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

California Senators call for ‘immediate removal’ of Dana White as UFC President for slapping wife

Senators say Endeavor’s “silence speaks volumes.”

UFC Fight Night: VanZant v Ostovich
Endeavor head Ari Emanuel and UFC President Dana White.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Since Dana White was caught on video slapping his wife, Endeavor, UFC, and their broadcast partners ESPN and TBS have all remained silent on the matter. Given their inaction, a group of legislators have now called for White’s “immediate removal” as UFC President following the appalling and “alarming” incident.

California State Senator Nancy Skinner has penned an open letter to Ari Emanuel on behalf of 17 State Senators and and 32 Assemblywomen, telling the Endeavor CEO and UFC owner that “it is time to remove Mr. White from his leadership role.”

The letter, which comes from the bipartisan organization California Legislative Women’s Caucus, also called out Emanuel’s “hypocrisy” as his previous strong views seemingly don’t apply now that it’s his bottomline that’s involved.

“In the days since the video was released, you have remained silent,” the letter reads. “Your continued silence speaks volumes. As you once wrote: “Silence and inaction are not an option.” We agree — and we are urging you to take immediate action.

“...The head of a major sporting organization cannot claim to be for the safety of women while a video of him striking his wife continues to circulate online without a response from you. The hypocrisy is astounding. Enough is enough. It is time to remove Mr. White from his leadership role, to allow him and his partner to get the help they need while reminding the world of what Endeavor stands for and that violence against women is not a conduct that you condone.”

As the letter referenced, Emanuel has been vocal about past controversies, with the Hollywood mogul recently penning two op-eds speaking out against antisemitism from the likes of Kanye West and Dave Chappelle. He called for a boycott of West, saying “it’s up to all of us to stop regarding silence as an acceptable option.”

He also previously called for Hollywood to shun Mel Gibson for his bigoted comments, “even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.”

The UFC is one of the main drivers of Endeavor’s business, with the MMA promotion now making over a billion dollars a year.

The open letter can be read in full below:

Dear Mr. Emanuel,

We write with deep concern about the recent violent video we have seen online from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (U.F.C.) President Dana White. Our caucus, which is both bicameral and bipartisan, is composed of women across the State of California who are committed to creating better lives for women and girls. We care deeply about intimate partner violence, and we have seen how partner violence affects the lives of children and families. Most importantly, we are deeply aware of how impactful our actions are on the minds of young people, who learn from what we tolerate and what we condemn.

Given Mr. White’s previous remarks against domestic partner violence, we believed that Endeavor and the U.F.C. shared this commitment to safety, respect, and accountability. You yourself have written extensively about the need to speak out and act when we see things that are not in line with our values.

And yet, we have seen the video of U.F.C. President Dana White, where he strikes his wife at a New Year’s Eve celebration with a closed fist. We were appalled. It was alarming to say the least.

In the days since the video was released, you have remained silent. Your continued silence speaks volumes. As you once wrote: “Silence and inaction are not an option.”

We agree — and we are urging you to take immediate action. Like you, we are people who live by our values.

We, too, are people of action. We are allies against violence, advocates for women, and we are parents like yourself. This is why it is clear to us: we are calling for the immediate removal of Mr. White as President of the U.F.C.

Every day that Mr. White’s actions go unaccounted for, your silence becomes more piercing and troubling. At this point, thousands of young men, women, and adults worldwide have seen the video of Mr. White striking his wife. We have also seen his apology. What we have not seen is any consequences for his actions.

As Chief Executive Officer of Endeavor, the U.F.C.’s parent company, you have the authority to decide who leads the U.F.C., which is one of the world’s most watched sporting leagues, with millions of fans across the globe. Mr. White is not only the external face of the U.F.C., he is the leader who sets the expectations for the athletes as well. He is the leader who has explained in years past that he stands firmly against domestic violence. If an athlete were to commit violence against their partner, Mr. White is the leader within U.F.C. who will have to determine the consequence. The eyes of the world are on him and on Endeavor.

The head of a major sporting organization cannot claim to be for the safety of women while a video of him striking his wife continues to circulate online without a response from you. The hypocrisy is astounding. Enough is enough. It is time to remove Mr. White from his leadership role, to allow him and his partner to get the help they need while reminding the world of what Endeavor stands for and that violence against women is not a conduct that you condone.

Sincerely,

Nancy Skinner, Chair
Senator, 7th District

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Vice Chair
Assemblymember, 4th District

Other Hollywood actors and sports stars have also recently spoken out about the uneven media coverage on the issue.


About the author: Anton Tabuena is the Managing Editor for Bloody Elbow. He’s been covering MMA and combat sports since 2009, and has also fought in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing. (full bio)