Trump’s 9/11 boxing match was a vision of another reality
Photo: AFP via Getty Images
September 11, 2001, Donald Trump honored the then unknown number of deaths in Lower Manhattan, pointing out that the collapse of the World Trade Center meant he now owned the tallest building in the city center. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the event, he visited a fire station and police station in New York City before returning to Florida to host a pay-per-view boxing match with his son.
The former president, a promoter at heart, was mostly sticking to vague bromides that couldn’t get him in trouble as he provided colorful commentary in four disappointing fights at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. “I think tonight’s card is going to be very successful,” he said, asked about his expectations for the evening. “He’s like a totally different fighter,” he said, seconds after a co-host made the exact same observation. “I like to do that,” he said, when asked if he liked to eat lobster. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the evening is that Trump hung on for the entire undercard without noticeably getting bored.
Although he behaved widely, a few non-boxing jabs inevitably passed. Asked at the start of the show about 9/11, Trump said the anniversary was made worse because of a “really bad week” by President Joe Biden. He praised the State of Florida for how they “ran the election cleanly.” Describing how referees decide boxing matches, he said: “It’s like an election: it could be rigged. Donald Trump Jr., during a particularly dull moment in the first fight, said that “right now the public likes politics better.”
It was a shrewd observation: in the first two fights, the only real noise from the crowd came during outbursts of support for the former president. Cardboard banners dotted the casino arena: “Bring back # 45” and “Trump won.” (“I’m watching the signs,” Trump said.) Local audiences who paid $ 50 to broadcast the fight also had access to a live chat in which viewers spoke about QAnon, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden on the train. to suck, Pepe the Frog, Trump actually winning the 2020 election, and Jeffrey Epstein not actually killing himself.
There’s a reason boxing wasn’t really the main event: celebrity fights, the genre starring aging heavyweights, trapped influencers, and retired NBA players, are a side show of the sport itself designed purely to make money. (Aside from Anderson Silva’s first-round knockout of Tito Ortiz in the third fight, many boxers on Saturday night spent more time trying to avoid boxing than actually boxing.) In this world between President Trump , a man who was never afraid of a strange money-making opportunity. His presence was a perfect complement to the resurgence of novelty fights: an area full of fishy financing; alleged sexual assault; aging stars trying to make their comeback; and the guys who really love Florida.
In some ways, he never really left the sport. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Trump staged several high-profile fights in Atlantic City, including Mike Tyson vs. Larry Holmes and Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman. Since the 1980s, Trump has been friends with World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon and once shaved his head in the “Battle of the Billionaires” at WrestleMania. McMahon’s wife Linda was the head of Trump’s Small Business Administration and worked on his 2020 campaign, while Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White is also a close friend. If his Saturday night observations weren’t particularly insightful, it was clear this world claimed him as one of their own. To his credit, Trump’s best moments were his memories of his days in Atlantic City, and he seemed really lively when Jorge Masvidal, a UFC champion who campaign for him in South Florida, entered the announcer’s lodge.
George Foreman, Donald Trump and Evander Holyfield promote a fight in Atlantic City in April 1991.
Photo: The Ring Magazine via Getty Imag
After his almost year relentless assaults on American democracy, it’s very strange to see Donald Trump talk about boxing, have fun and do absolutely nothing for a few hours. This bizarre appearance over a mostly tedious three-hour stream sounded like a glimpse of another reality: one in which the 45th president accepted his electoral defeat last November, and instead of flirt with a second run he spent his time chasing after quick money in man-o-sphere appearances – events that can be outrageously fun and silly if you choose to engage and completely inconsequential if you don’t.
As the night wore on it got more and more absurd. Before Evander Holyfield stepped into the ring with former UFC Champion Vitor Belfort, the public were invited to observe the 9/11 anniversary for a 10 count of the bell. The silence was broken by a woman yelling, “Feel these motherfuckers!” “Shut up! The crowd shouted back. The memorial bell rang as the audience booed and a woman in short shorts circled the ring with an American flag.
Once the fight started, Belfort more or less beat Holyfield, 58, until the sad display was called off before the second round. (Holyfield wasn’t supposed to fight: he was replaced after Oscar de la Hoya had COVID at the last minute; his last opponent was at charity “struggle” vs. Mitt Romney in 2015.) When interviewed after the fight, Belfort called Jake Paul a “slut” and demanded the celebrity boxing money maker fight him for $ 25 million on Thanksgiving. Trump, after avoiding chants from the crowd asking him to give a speech, closed the event by addressing his many supporters at the casino. “It’s like a rally,” he said. “We love you all. We love this country.