Profiting From Trayvon’s Death

Dean Obeidallah
Profiting From Trayvon’s Death

When I read the headline that George Zimmerman—the guy who shot and killed Trayvon Martin—was going to fight rapper DMX in a “celebrity boxing match,” I assumed I was reading, The Onion. This had to be a joke, right?

But unfortunately it’s not.  Celebrity boxing promoter and “self described opportunist,” Damon Feldman announced that Zimmerman and DMX had agreed to step into the ring together. As Feldman boasted,  “the match will be one of the Biggest Celebrity Boxing matches of all time.” 

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This event is truly despicable. I can’t even imagine the pain that the media reports of this boxing match must be causing the parents of Trayvon Martin. First, they lose their son. And now the man who killed him, will be starring in a TV special where he’s considered a “celebrity.”

Let’s be clear: this is far from the typical celebrity boxing match that Feldman has set up in the past which featured the likes of Tanya Harding, Jose Canseco and Michael Lohan. This match showcases a man who shot and killed someone. That is the sole reason we know the name George Zimmerman and why he is considered a “celebrity.” 

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To make matters worse, Feldman had originally scheduled to announce the fight by way of a press conference on Martin’s birthday. He since moved the announcement to next week, pleading ignorance of Martin’s birthday. (Or was Feldman just trying to get more publicity for the fight by scheduling the press conference on that day?) 

Simply put: Zimmerman—with the help of DMX and Feldman—are seeking to profit off the killing a black teenager.  And, yes I know that Zimmerman claims he will donate all the proceeds from the fight to “charity.” Which charity? Does it involve one that supports “Stand Your Ground” laws? Is connected to any gun manufactures? Is it his legal defense fund?

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Even if Zimmerman is truly not being paid for his appearance, the publicity that he will receive from starring in this event has a dollar value. And more disturbingly, it’s part of Zimmerman’s strategy to transform himself from a person known as the killer of a teenager to a buffoonish, reality show star. This is clearly a step by Zimmerman to rehabilitate his image so he can hopefully profit off his fame down the line.

I know that some will not have a problem with this match.  Zimmerman was acquitted of criminal charges in connection with Martin’s murder and only 31% of white Americans disapproved of the verdict. But it’s my hope that even those who agreed with the jury’s decision will still be disgusted by Zimmerman, DMX, and Feldman’s profiting off of Martin’s death. 

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And look, I don’t begrudge Feldman from earning a buck or even getting rich from promoting “celebrity boxing matches.”  Although it should be noted that Feldman does have a checkered past. He was charged in 2010 with six counts of violating Pennsylvania’s Boxing Act. The then attorney general (and now-governor) Tom Corbett commented,  “The only thing that appears to be ‘real’ about any of these events is the money that went into Mr. Feldman’s pocket and the media attention that he received.” (Feldman plead guilty to some of the charges and was sentenced to two years probation.)

But there are plenty other celebrity fights that Feldman can promote where he can make a profit and not feature Zimmerman. Here are just a few ideas:

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1. The Real Housewives of New Jersey versus Chris Christie —I’m sure they were pissed over the traffic caused by Bridgegate.

2. Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson versus The Bachelor’s Juan Pablo Galavis—who will win the title of  “most homophobic reality show star?”

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3. Donald Trump versus Bill Maher- they have been feuding for years.

4. Sean Hannity versus Michael Savage—these two conservative radio hosts have recently ratchet up their rivalry. In fact, I would pay to be at this bout.  

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Damon Feldman should cancel this event. And if he decides to go forward with the fight, then as a society we should not be complicit in Feldman’s scheme by supporting it in any way. We shouldn’t buy it on Pay-per-view nor should the media provide the event with free publicity.  Our collective sense of decency and the memory of Trayvon Martin deserve at least that much.  

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