St. John’s Fires Fencing Coach For Racist Rant, Saying Lincoln Shouldn’t Have Freed the Slaves

Boris Vaksman, who had been a fencing coach at St. John’s University, has been fired after video surfaced that shows the Ukrainian coach going on a disturbing racist rant suggesting all black people are murderers, criminals, and that Abraham Lincoln was wrong for freeing the slaves.

The video was leaked online by Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad.

“Ever wonder what racism looks like behind closed doors? Boris Vaksman is a fencing coach in NYC recorded a few days ago advocating for the enslavement of Black people. This is what racism looks like in fencing, a small piece of a larger puzzle,” she wrote in a caption along with the video. “This video is a reminder that coaches and teachers, those people entrusted with building us, educating us, and protecting us, too often perpetuate the discriminatory treatment and behaviors that normalize racism.”

Vaksman had been an assistant coach at St. John’s since 2006 and served as the United State Fencing Association’s junior national team coach from 2005-09.

In the video, Vaksman says: “Because the most trouble [is] coming from where? From black people. Because they don’t want to work, they steal, they kill, they [do] drugs, everything comes from [black people]. The majority… I think, what’s his name, Lincoln, made a mistake [by signing the Emancipation Proclamation].”

You can see the troubling video below.

Immediately after the video surfaced, St. John’s announced that it had fired Vaksman and his bio was removed from the university’s website immediately.

“As soon as the recording was brought to our attention the matter was immediately investigated and the individual no longer works at the University,” St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg said in a statement, via the New York Post. “The racist comments expressed are completely unacceptable and a rejection of everything for which the University stands.”

Volksman was a four-time national Epee champion and four-time Soviet Union Champion as a competitor. As for his relationship with the United States Fencing Association, USA Fencing immediately distanced itself from Vaksman’s comments with a statement of their own.

“Today, USA Fencing became aware of an audio recording of a fencing coach that included virulently racist comments targeting the Black community,” the statement read. “We are disgusted by these statements, which are racist, offensive and have no place in the USA Fencing community or in society as a whole.”

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