Harmless or tone deaf? Trump commentates Sept. 11 boxing event

With his four-year term now behind him, former President Donald Trump is taking a short break from politics to participate in one of his longtime passions - combat sports. Yet, the billionaire industrialist’s upcoming foray with the squared circle may ruffle some feathers this weekend.

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, former President Donald Trump is currently facing a lawsuit from U.S. Capitol Police officers. The U.S. Capitol is also demanding records from the former President’s time in office in what is believed to be the beginning of a lengthy investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. Meanwhile, the United States is revisiting an old wound, one scarred over and painful to the touch.

The U.S. is facing the anniversary of Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda’s coordinated terrorist attack that devastated countless American families on Sept. 11, 2001. As the effects of the Jan. 6 insurrection continue to reverberate across the nation and America prepares for the anniversary of the nationally scarring terrorist attacks of 2001, former President Donald Trump is now preparing to commentate a boxing match set to take place on September 11. While political critics and opposing partisans may view Trump’s participation in the upcoming combat sports event as politically tone deaf or insensitive, it is also important to remember that the former President has long ties to the combat sports industry.

Before his days behind the podium, Donald Trump had his fingers in many proverbial pies. Among them, Trump had several business encounters within the mixed martial arts industry.

In 2001, Station Casinos executives Frank Fertitta and Lorenzo Fertitta acquired the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The brothers quickly installed longtime acquaintance and business partner Dana White as the company’s president. During this period, the UFC was struggling to make its mark. The sport of mixed martial arts had a reputation problem, as many major media organizations saw the sport as being too violent. Donald Trump, however, proved to be a solution to the UFC’s plight.

When the UFC was struggling to find quality civic centers to host the promotion’s events, Donald Trump permitted for UFC 28, UFC 30 and UFC 31 to each be hosted within the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This proved to be the beginning of a long standing friendship between Donald Trump and UFC President Dana White.

Dana White would even go on to endorse Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

While business with the UFC was Donald Trump’s first major foray into the combat sports industry, it would not be his last. In 2008, Trump was doing business indirectly against the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Affliction Clothing, an MMA apparel manufacturer, formed Affliction Entertainment in 2008. The new company was intended to supplant the UFC, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship was quickly rising in popularity. To bolster their chances of success, the new company needed some help. Consequently, Affliction Entertainment formed a partnership with Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, disbarred former attorney to Donald Trump, would later be declared the COO of Affliction Entertainment as well. The company did not last long as a competitor, having only hosted two fight events before fading into obscurity.

“I’ve got a lot of money,” Trump said, speaking at Trump Tower to journalists about his 2008 partnership with Affliction Entertainment. “That helps, right? But also and perhaps more importantly, I seem to get a lot of attention. For instance, if I wasn’t here today, you might have maybe one writer. And now the place is packed.”

“It’s really something that I’m doing because I enjoy doing it,” Trump continued. “If we make money, that’s great. I think we will. I think it will be successful. What I do is usually successful.”

“It’s financial, but it’s not a very big deal for me,” Trump said. “When you build a billion-dollar building like I’m doing in Dubai and lots of other places, that’s a much bigger financial commitment.”

The former president’s partnership with the failed company Affliction Entertainment was Donald Trump’s final major venture into the world of combat sports—until this weekend.

This Saturday, Sept. 11, Triller Fight Club will host a boxing event headlined by boxing icon Evander Holyfield and UFC legend Vitor Belfort. Former President Donald Trump will perform as a guest commentator.

“I love great fighters and great fights,” Trump said in a recent Triller press release. “I look forward to seeing both this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts ringside. You won’t want to miss this special event.”

The former president’s upcoming “unfiltered boxing commentary” is sure to be a moment of contention between political partisans. With the Jan. 6 insurrection that saw thousands storm the U.S. Capitol in protest to Donald Trump losing the 2020 presidential election having largely been laid at the feet of the former president, Trump is politically and legally on the defense.

Beyond that, the U.S. is currently honoring those killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center. Trump’s commentary taking place on the tragic anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks may just be adding insult to injury.

With all of that in mind, the former president is no longer the acting leader of the free world. Industrialist, father, husband and fight fan, Donald Trump will be ringside this Saturday to watch some action inside the squared circle. Only time will tell how voters and fight fans alike will react to the former president’s presence.

Triller Fight Club’s Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort event will take place Sept. 11 from within the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. The event will stream live on pay-per-view via FITE TV.

Hunter Boyce

Hunter Boyce

Digital Producer and Journalist

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