“We’ll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create,” Chuck Palahniuk, Author of “Fight Club.”
The proposed George Zimmerman boxing fiasco has sparked contentious debate in the Mass Appeal office. Our staff has been conflicted as to what we should say. Do we add our opinion to the conversation and in the process further augment Zimmerman’s infamy? Or should we say nothing and in our silence fail to address one of the most sickening usages of the term “celebrity” in the Internet age?
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s murder, was selected to compete in a “celebrity” boxing match. It was announced on Febuary 5th (what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 19th Birthday) that promoter, Damon Feldman had organized a clash with DMX. This bout was subsequently cancelled with Feldman saying he would address his stake in the matter at a press conference today at 2 p.m.
Feldman, a former boxer himself, has been promoting “celebrity” boxing matches for the past 12 years and counts Tila Tequila, Rodney King and Danny Bonaduce as the celebrities who have fought in some of the 55 boxing matches. Back in 2010, Feldman was charged with staging six boxing events without a license as well as fixing boxing matches. The Promoter has cited his own children and paying bills as a justification for his involvement in the promoting the fight. A “celebrity” fight involving a man whose name is now known in every American household – not because he’s a Hollywood actor or a sports star, but because he was acquitted of the 2nd degree murder and manslaughter of an unarmed youth, Trayvon Martin, in Florida – an Acquittal that sparked violent protests, rioting and a tearjerking speech from President Obama.
Mass Appeal decided to speak up and reached out to the 38-year-old promoter via Twitter. We scheduled a phone call last night. Here is what Damon Feldman had to say about his stake in the promotion of George Zimmerman.
Mass Appeal: I won’t keep you very long because I’m sure you have a lot to do before the press conference tomorrow but I just wanted to ask you a few question. Just to start off, can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where are you from?
Damon Feldman: I’m from outside of Philadelphia. You know, I’m an undefeated professional fighter, 9 and 0. I’m a promoter now, promote pro fights and celebrity boxing.
MA: How long have you been doing that for? The promoting?
DF: The promoting I’ve been doing that for about 14 years.
MA: How old are you?
DF: 38. There’s different numbers all around the Internet but, 38.
MA: Are you married?
DF: I’m single.
MA: But you have a child. That’s correct?
DF: I have two children.
MA: How old are your kids?
DF: Six and ten.
MA: Both boys or a boy and a girl?
DF: A boy and a girl.
MA: What are you interested in outside of work? Do you like music? What do you like to do in your spare time?
DF: What kind of interview is this? Just curious?
MA: I’m just trying to find out a little bit about you as a person before I ask you the more professional based questions.
DF: Um, I love enjoying life, you know. I love music. Hip hop.
MA: Okay. How did you become a boxing promoter?
DF: When I got into an accident outside the ring I got into, you know, thinking about what I’m going to do with my life. I started getting into promoting Tough Man competitions and I got into doing pro wrestling. Then into pro boxing. The into doing . . . I hooked up with Danny Bonaduce in 2008 and we started doing celebrity fights. I’ve rallied off 55 so far. You know everyone from Danny Bonaduce, Tonya Harding, to Jose Canseco, Tila Tequila, Rodney King. On and on.
MA: You’ve promoted a lot of celebrity matches.
MA: Do you consider George Zimmerman a celebrity?
DF: The media made him a celebrity. Celebrity boxing is just our company name and you know, they came to me about doing the match.
MA: His people came to you? Did they?
DF: Someone mutually we knew. A guy contacted me. He knew what I did and eh, he said [Zimmerman] had a passion for boxing. The guy came to me and asked me if I would be interested. I took it to my attorneys first. Got back to him. I took a chance at it. We put the word out, to seek out an opponent to take on George Zimmerman. And we had over 15,000 emails. Now up to 27,000 to take him on, the Game, DMX and on and on. We picked DMX out because he was the most controversial.
MA: But DMX is no longer doing the fight is that correct?
DF: No, we didn’t pursue it right now. Everyone thinks it’s cancelled and this and that. It will all come out in the press conference tomorrow. I just finished up a meeting and I’ll let it go till tomorrow. You know, he did have the contract. He called Zimmerman out on TMZ and all of a sudden everyone wants to get paid.
MA: Are you still promoting the fight or is someone else promoting the fight?
DF: There’s some interest from someone else. But right now I’ll release everything tomorrow at the press conference.
MA: Where is the press conference?
DF: In Philadelphia.
MA: Is there a way to phone in to the press conference?
DF: Is there a way to what?
MA: Phone in.
DF: Nah, we’re not going to do that because there is major media coming. We’re just going to do it and after tomorrow I’ll be going in a different direction.
MA: So are you still involved or not still involved?
DF: It’s all in the press conference tomorrow that’s all I can say.
MA: I saw on Twitter that there were threats made against your son. Did that inform your decision to host this press conference and straighten things out?
DF: You know, it bothered me but it wasn’t . . . look if I don’t do it someone else is. Technically this guy is not a criminal even though everyone says he is. He got off on it. Do I agree with him getting off? No, I don’t agree with anything in the case but that’s the way the legal system works. I don’t care about threats and stuff like that, but it was too emotional. All the hype and this and that. It happened so fast. It was too much.
MA: I know you said that you don’t necessarily agree with him [Zimmerman] but what do you think of him capitalizing off a young man’s death?
DF: The only thing capitalizing . . . remember they came to me and I hired him for one event. Other than that, you know. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, it’s a tough question. I’m entertainment. I don’t want to get . . . I never followed the trial. I had no clue, you know, until I checked it out. All I know is the verdict. Any of the people I’ve worked with, Rodney King, Tonya Harding, I know what they’ve done. I don’t know what their whole background history is. This is obviously a situation where someone was killed and you know, but the guy was . . . you know, if he did get off free then it would have been different, you know . . . I’m sorry . . . . If he was charged and convicted of it, that would have been one thing. I wasn’t there. You weren’t there. The world wasn’t there. It was only those two. We have no clue what exactly happened that night. You know, what happened was devastating. Very, very upsetting.
MA: Has Trayvon Martin’s family been in contact with you at all about this?
DF: The word I got from someone was that they didn’t care about the event at all and they didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
MA: Why do you think that boxing is a good platform for George Zimmerman?
DF: I’ll take anyone who can help sell tickets and this guy . . . you know . . . it was a big . . . It’s gone international. It’s crazy, celebrity boxing and stuff like that. That’s it. But you know, I didn’t think it was all going to be this controversial. I thought it would be controversial but I didn’t think it was going to be like this.
MA: Well considering there were riots after the verdict did you not . . .
DF: Hold on, how do you know there was riots? I didn’t pay attention to it. I’m in Philadelphia thinking about how to make a living for my kids, family and make it. I don’t pay attention to every murder that happens around the country.
MA: Right . . . but it was a highly prolific case.
DF: Yeah. I know that but I don’t follow everything in the world. Certain people followed it. I have my goals so I didn’t follow the case until I heard the verdict. Everyone heard the verdict and that was . . . I looked into the case. I studied it a little but. What’s happened here, it will all come out tomorrow at the press conference.
MA: Right . . . why do you think there’s such a huge demand for the fight? A lot of people have come out and said how despicable it is. But then there are other people you know, from the African American community, who do want to see it happen.
DF: Of course. Yeah in fact, I’m getting a lot of people in the hip hop industry that are actually getting involved in the fight and promoting. Like I said, I have a plan. I’m going to announce it tomorrow at the press conference. You know, that’s pretty much it.
MA: What are your thoughts on the death of Trayvon Martin? I know you said you didn’t really follow the case but a young man did die.
DF: Any guy that didn’t get a chance to live his life and died the way he did, you know . . . I looked it up and Zimmerman wanted to be cop or whatever it was. You know, it was a tough situation. As I said there’s only two people who know what went down, those two and obviously we’ll never know the real truth about it. That pretty much answers the question. But I mean, a kid dying is terrible.
MA: You know you mentioned your own kids. You said you have to make money to support your family. But like you know, someone . . .
DF: I’m not interested in bringing my kids into this right now. Right now, it’s already been confusing, this whole situation. Right now, you know, I pretty much said what I had to say. I’m friends with everybody and this was a business decision and it will be addressed tomorrow at the press conference. That’s where we’re at. If anyone ever wants to talk to me go to my website, WXENT.com I appreciate that.
MA: Okay, thank you for that but the other thing I was going to ask you . . . your Twitter following has increased by about 1,000 followers since the fight surfaced. Did you intend to get any kind of fame out of this or was that just a by product?
DF: I’ve already been in the public eye for my whole career. I was one of the top fighters, I’ve been in the spotlight. I’ve done shows with Jimmy Fallon, Chelsea Lately. I’ve done 55 celebrity fights very high profile fights and the spotlight is not . . . I’m worried about money. I’m not worried about the spotlight. I’m trying to get paid. That’s what all this comes down to. If I don’t do it someone else is going to do it and profit off it. And I’m going to be the guy who said I coulda, shoulda, would of. And that’s what it comes down to. So it doesn’t matter what anyone says because everyone knows I got this opportunity to do it because he’s the most infamous guy in the country. Do his match and now everybody’s hating and that.
MA: Right, but how does it feel to be the person to put someone like George Zimmerman in a public platform and allow him that access. He has created an infamous persona and you not only are capitalizing off it but you are also helping him to talk to all these people.
DF: Number one thing, we’re exposing the guy as well. So like I said, there’s a plan. The press conference tomorrow. Then we will go from there.
MA: What do you intend to do with the money you make from the fight?
DF: You know, this isn’t a charity event. Whatever he [Zimmerman] makes he agreed to donate to a charity, I don’t know what it was. Again, I had a plan with this whole thing where I was going to go with this. But it would have to be at the end of the event, because it could have messed up his involvement with the event.
MA: Sorry, but what do you intend to do with your share of the profits?
DF: [Laughs] What do you think I’m supposed to do? It’s what I do for a living. I mean, if I did this fight and got paid the money that’s helping me pay my child support. Help me pay my bills, that’s what I would do. It’s my job. That’s what a normal person does, isn’t it?
MA: Right, but you know, you do keep mentioning your children. Technically you’re capitalizing off the death of another child.
DF: Alright, this conversation . . . the press conference is tomorrow and it’s all going to be said tomorrow. I do appreciate your time. Bye.
MA: Thank you.
Update: At today’s press conference, Feldman announced that he would be stepping down from promoting the fight.