(Trends Wide) — When I first heard that Donald Trump, you know, the former president of the United States, was going to be a commentator on former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield’s boxing match, I thought it was a joke. When I learned that the event was scheduled for September 11, the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil in history, I was sure it was a joke.
It is not a joke.
[ Sept. 11 | https://t.co/0cAIvu2yKw ] pic.twitter.com/3nxWfekmVR
– FITE (@FiteTV) September 7, 2021
That’s right: Trump – along with his oldest son, Don Jr. – will spend the night of September 11 making comments on a fight that features an elderly boxer – Holyfield is 58 years old! – in something called Fite (he’s not a typo) TV.
“I love great fighters and great fights,” Trump said in announcing his plans for Saturday night. “I look forward to seeing you this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts in the ring. You don’t want to miss out on this special event.”
To be surprised by any of this is fundamentally to misunderstand who Donald Trump really is.
Trump is, at heart, a showman and a provocateur. He likes to create controversy. Live in terror of being irrelevant. And he is absolutely incapable of empathy — much less empathy. (Do you think it’s too harsh? He repeatedly — as president and before he was elected — demonstrated that he is simply unable to identify with or care about other people’s problems.)
Seen through that lens, Trump’s decision to sit in the ring and offer live commentary in a fight makes perfect sense.
Trump has long been a fan of boxing and mixed martial arts.
The billionaire businessman was the host of several of Mike Tyson’s early fights on his Atlantic City property. Trump was, in fact, a sponsor of one of Tyson’s most famous knockouts: the destruction of Michael Spinks in just 91 seconds.
Trump, in office, paid homage to sweet science by pardoning Jack Johnson, a former heavyweight champion convicted of transporting a white woman across state lines. Of Johnson, Trump said: “The world’s first African-American heavyweight champion, a great fighter. He had a difficult life.”
In 2019, while he was still president, Trump attended a UFC event in New York City alongside UFC president – and one of the main supporters – Dana White. “Walking to Madison Square Garden last night with @danawhite for the big @UFC championship fight was a bit like walking into a Trump Rally. There are a lot of MAGAs and KAGs present,” Trump said in reference to his supporters. He also attended a UFC event in July in Las Vegas.
Trump does what he wants when he wants to do it. People who raise questions about the ownership of, say, being a boxing commentator on the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, are simply “enemies” and “losers.” Or people who don’t understand it. Or something.
Here’s the thing: It’s not a partisan statement to say that a former president shouldn’t be in a boxing match – let alone commenting on the match – on the same day 2,996 Americans lost their lives 20 years ago. Point.