SPORTSTALK

King Hippo and His Chutzpah

On George Zimmerman's scheduled (fake) fight with 
has-been DMX, which will (probably) never happen

Posted

Acouple of weeks back, on Folio Weekly's blog, I wrote an appreciation of George Zimmerman's "painting" of Angela Corey. That, combined with Wes Denham's excellent analysis of the painting in last week's Crime City ["Red Becomes Her"], likely stand as the last critique of Zimmerman's visual arts in this magazine for the foreseeable future.

After all, the Z-man's forte isn't really painting, but self-promotion. Those who wonder where he would turn up next can't be surprised by his foray into the sports world — that is, if you can call celebrity boxing a sport.

Promoter Damon Feldman, known for his fixed celebrity fights, booked the portly pugilist for a "fight" on March 15 against gone-and-almost-forgotten rapper DMX, most notable for poignant cultural-touchstone singles like "Where Tha Hood At" and "What These Bitches Want."

Feldman announced this fight on the eve of what would have been Trayvon Martin's 19th birthday, an especially classy touch. Following a thunderstorm of outrage — imagine that — over the weekend, he announced that he'd cancelled the fight. Then he said he was rethinking the cancellation, and that there would be a press conference on Tuesday (after this publication goes to press) announcing his "final decision." "Zimmerman," he told one website, "still wants to fight."

Whether or not this thing actually happens, it's still a remarkable footnote in the seemingly endless George Zimmerman saga — and more evidence that Zimmerman (a dead ringer for King Hippo from Mike Tyson's Punch Out) will do just about anything to monetize reasonable doubt and the highest-profile loss of the Corey era. This, as you might expect, has led some to criticize him.

One such critic: Jacksonville defense attorney John Phillips, who is working on behalf of Jordan Davis' parents in the legal action against gas station gunman Michael Dunn, and who is vigilantly opposed to Stand Your Ground.

"The first thing everyone needs to realize is that this promoter is a wanna-be Vince McMahon," Phillips told me last week, before the fight was called off. "It is all fake. [Also], everything about Zimmerman seems to be completely without accountability."

And then he kept going: "[Zimmerman] had a history of abusiveness and even once turned off his mother's electricity? But that wasn't relevant to his trial. He got out of his car and murdered a kid? He was innocent. He and his wife lied and had a code about the legal fund? Nope, he was just misunderstood. He gets pulled over repeatedly? He's not reckless; he's scared. He has spousal and domestic abuse allegations? No, don't listen to them, they're out to ruin him. Clear copyright theft? The AP is victimizing him. Fake wrestling making headlines? The guy is taking a 180-degree position to what was sworn about his training at trial [in which Zimmerman's team claimed that he lacked the fighting ability to defend himself]."

Given Zimmerman's gleeful flouting of the very basis of his defense not too many moons ago, it's almost as if he's deliberately undercutting and lampooning the terms of his exoneration. Whatever one might think about King Hippo's character, you have to acknowledge his chutzpah.

That said, you also have to wonder where it all ends. It's been said, in defense of his "art," that Zimmerman's justified in selling his works; after all, due to his notoriety, he can't very well work at Taco Bell. But for a man many Americans believe killed a teenager in cold blood, is his eagerness to "fight" in an arena full of people who despise him a smart move?

Though these celebrity-boxing matches are, in the parlance of pro wrestling, a work, there's an interesting angle. What if DMX, in an attempt to manufacture 21st-century relevance, decided to throw real punches at Zimmerman? Stranger things have happened, and considering the perverse narrative twists at every turn in Zimmerman's life story, it seems plausible enough.

Looking for positives? Good news you can use? OK, here ya go: If King Hippo can make it as a boxer, why not Casey Anthony as a mud wrestler? It makes about as much sense — and Anthony probably looks better in a bikini.

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