A woman in high tops and a black two-piece carried an American flag in the ring. The screams continued. The bell rang ten times. On camera, the former president’s face was framed by a black and yellow background from the Triller Fight Club announcing the return of Evander Holyfield, the 58-year-old boxer who had been out of the ring for a decade, a close friend with a heart, ”said the former president. To Trump’s right, his son, Don. Jr., stood with downcast eyes.
“May they rest in peace and never be forgotten,” said Michael Buffer, the ring announcer of “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble”.
Earlier that morning, Americans woke up to the image of three presidents standing side by side at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, dressed in black or navy blue, with their left hands over their hearts. Donald and Melania Trump were not there. As he had done during the inauguration of his successor, breaking with tradition by skipping the ceremony to fly to Mar-a-Lago, Trump spent Saturday in a particular bubble, pursuing his own interests in a series semi-public appearances, some of them silver. manufacturing. Nothing would have stopped him from being the fourth president at the New York Memorial or traveling to Shanksville, Pa. – the heart of Trump Country – where President George W. Bush spoke about healing internal divisions within the nation.
Instead, Trump appeared via recorded video at a conference of the Unification Church, better known as the “Moonies Cult,” and went to a fire station and police in New York, where he began his opening speech by criticizing Joe Biden for “fleeing” Afghanistan, repeating the lie that the elections were “rigged” and very strongly suggesting that he would run for president in 2024. “I think you’re going to be very happy,” Trump told police officers that morning.. “Let me put it that way, okay?” I think you are going to be very happy. By nightfall, he was at a casino in South Florida delivering several hours of commentary on four boxing matches for Triller Fight Club in an “Alternative TV Show” available for $ 49.99 for à la carte ticket holders. It was, in his son’s words, “a little light on a dark day.” The all day was an “alternate telecast,” a parallel reality of Trump’s own design – his own eerie void, designed to entertain or indignant, in which he was free to lace up every appearance with a selfish narrative, unencumbered by traditions of non-partisanship , or the presence of unwanted rivals.
But it was no easier to ignore him completely than to treat him with total seriousness. Why would he stand alongside Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden at Ground Zero when he could surprise police and firefighters? They wanted to take pictures with him. They wanted to ask him questions. He met their adorable smiles with his own. Police unions, like the one in New York, are overwhelmingly backing him. Watching Trump on Saturday, he emerged as both a person isolated from the political spotlight and unwilling to give in, devoting his time to appearances that you said made perfect political sense or no sense at all.
Unlike the inauguration, where the cameras were still on his every move as incumbent president, this time even finding him was a more difficult and bizarre exercise. C-SPAN had a camera with Trump in New York City, but if you watched cable coverage of the 9/11 debates, you might only have seen it briefly on Fox News. Few reporters have tweeted about the visit. But it was all over the Don Jr stream. As you scroll down, you’ll quickly come to a video of the President’s son in a lime green t-shirt, teasing the Holyfield fight, with an eerie promise. “I’m definitely asking about aliens because I think now maybe we’re getting a solid answer on what exactly is going on in Area 51,” he said.
“Send ‘Alien’ to 75303,” his tweet said.
This generated an automatic response from Triller Fight Club, a social media company trying to break into the fighting and entertainment industry with self-proclaimed “variety shows”. “He’s going to tell it all LIVE on PPV – DON’T MISS,” the text message read.
At one point that day, wearing the same blue tie he wore into battle later that night, Trump appeared in a recorded video on a pastel-toned galaxy-style backdrop, to congratulate the head of the Korea-based Unification Church (“a great person”) and her late husband, the founder of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, for launching the conservative movement Washington Times, he said, “an organization for which I have tremendous respect and admiration.” The Moon’s son, Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, heads a US-based branch of the church, attended the insurgency on Capitol Hill, and teaches his followers that the “iron rod” in the Bible is a reference to AR-15.
On Saturday afternoon, Don Jr. was busy promoting the fight. He announced free tickets through DraftKings, the sports betting company. He promised “Trump unhindered and unfiltered” in an interview with Breitbart. “After a dark day, you want to have a little fun, relax, get out of some kind of political world.”
When Trump finally appeared on camera at Hollywood Hard Rock, it was perhaps the biggest platform he has had since he was taken off Twitter and Facebook in the wake of the insurgency. January 6. ”Not the main event itself. Viewers could choose to watch their show without Trump, with the lead commentary offered by rapper 50 Cent.
“How can this be the alternative? Said game man Todd Grisham. “It must be the main broadcast! Here we have the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Triller media contacts did not respond to questions about financial compensation for the Trumps, or viewership numbers for the 3 hour and 25 minute broadcast. “I mean, I only got involved a week ago,” Trump said at one point, covering his own bets.
“But I can tell you that people are really excited about this card.”
The fight, arranged after Oscar De La Hoya’s withdrawal with a Covid-19 case, featured two retired fighters making their supposed comeback, with Holyfield taking first place on one week’s notice. Even in media appearances, it was clear that Holyfield wouldn’t be the fighter he once was. He struggled to find his words at a press conference last week. Ahead of the multi-million dollar fight, Holyfield told ESPN: “This is the first time my kids have said to me, ‘Daddy, you don’t need to be hit.'”
Don Jr. had heralded the event as a sneak peek into the Trump family’s living room. “We would do that anyway,” he said. He praised his father’s recall skills and his knowledge of boxing from his days in Atlantic City. When the family celebrated Thanksgiving last year at Camp David, he said, they ordered the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. fight à la carte.
Trump seemed to speak fluently in the world of boxing. Listening to him talk about Holyfield’s weight class, or the clashes of yore, seemed normal as his presidency rarely did. His color commentary was often more general and innocuous than what Don Jr. had promised.
As Joe Fournier lost an uneventful fight to his friend David Haye in the first undercard fight, Trump said, “You know, look at that left jab, it’s good. The greatest of all time, the left jab, was Ernie Holmes – was, uh, Larry Holmes, ”he corrected. “If you look to the left of Larry Holmes, remember? “
Grisham agreed. “The blow,” he said.
“Do you remember the jab?” Trump said.
“George Foreman was pretty good too. “
“Hers was great. But for that pure left jab.
Don Jr. added, “We may have to put you in the ring now.”
“Yeah,” his dad said, “I actually want to do that. ”
It wasn’t exactly Norman Mailer and George Plimpton covering “Rumble in the Jungle”.
Most of the time, Trump sipped Diet Coke while others tried to break the silence with non-sequiturs.
“Real estate – a buy or sell market,” Grisham asked.
“I think it will be a buy,” Trump said. “Hope this will be a purchase.”
In this preview of the Trump lounge, the inner jokes seemed to be between Trump and himself, revolving around the question of artifice and reality in the combat world – i.e. politics, well. that his co-hosts did not always understand.
“How about a fight between me and you?” Trump asked Junior dos Santos, a Brazilian MMA bout who commented on the guests. “Look at this guy’s arms. So you think people would believe it if I knock him out? Would they believe it? Would they say it’s a legitimate deal? “
“In the world of fighting, you never know,” dos Santos said.
Trump almost begged dos Santos to say the word ‘rigged’ when he asked about a fight between Óscar Valdez and Robson Conceicao, where the judges had made a ‘terrible decision,’ dos Santos said, declaring Valdez the winner .
“We have seen decisions where they took the winner,” Trump said.
Dos Santos agreed. “Conceicao was a lot better in my opinion. Everyone agrees.
“So what did the crowd do?” Trump asked with a smile. “Did they agree? Did the crowd believe it?
If he was trying to allude to the January 6 uprising, dos Santos did not recognize him.
After more than two hours, it was time for Holyfield.
The tall retiree stepped into the ring, a red robe tied loosely at the waist.
“I think you’re going to learn a lot from the first minute,” Trump said, guarding against his friend. “The first minute will tell you a lot. One thing I will say, Vitor looks very pointy, very pointy.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Trump was right. As he passed the one-minute mark, Holyfield did not strike. He pulled up his gloves, protecting his face, then lost his footing, tripping over the ropes. “Yeah, it’s, uh, it looks a little tough on Evander right now,” Trump said. Vitor Belfort knocks him down a second time. He got up. “He’s struggling there. “
The arbitrator agreed. He stopped the fight before the two minute mark.
“From the start you could see it,” Trump said. “It was not the same fighter. He lost a lot. This left jab was very slow. He lost a lot.
The return promised by Triller did not come. Trump and Don Jr. never talked about aliens. Holyfield’s opponent Belfort put his face in front of the camera to challenge YouTube star Jake Paul to a fight over Thanksgiving. Triller offered $ 30 million for the game. And the night was over.
Trump had the last laugh. “It’s like a rally,” he said.
“I hear it gets crazy on the internet – absolutely crazy.”