Fencing coach fired after saying 'Lincoln made a mistake' freeing slaves
© @ibtihajmuhammad

St. John’s University fired its assistant fencing coach Boris Vaksman this week after he made racist comments towards black people in a newly surfaced video in which he claimed that former President Lincoln “made a mistake.” 

“As soon as the recording was brought to our attention the matter was immediately investigated and the individual was terminated by the University. The racist comments expressed are completely unacceptable and a rejection of everything that the University stands for,” Director of Athletics Mike Cragg said in a statement shared by the university on Twitter.

The video that captured Vaksman's remarks is from a Zoom call recorded on June 3. Audio of the call was first posted anonymously to Instagram on Wednesday. Video was also shared to the social media site, the New York Daily News reported.

In the video, the former coach can be seen heard saying, “The most trouble coming from where? From black people because they don’t want to work. They steal, they kill, they drugs, everything comes from them. The majority, the majority.”

“I think, what’s his name, Lincoln, made a mistake,” he added. 

Vaksman made the comments during a youth coaching session for Fencer’s Club, a private Manhattan fencing club, according to The New York Daily News. He has been an assistant coach at St. John’s University since 2006. 

Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad shared the video with a message, saying, “Ever wonder what racism looks like when we’re not around?”

ADVERTISEMENT

“This is what racism looks like in fencing, a small piece of a larger puzzle. 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,” Muhammad shared on Instagram.

 
The USA Fencing organization also condemned the comments. 
 
"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. USA Fencing stands with our black athletes and all underrepresented minorities within the fencing family and will conduct an immediate investigation," the organization shred on Instagram. 
 
The university firing of Vaksman comes as protests have broken out across the country over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died last month after a former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.