Has Damon Feldman Made a Mockery of Celebrity Boxing?
Tom Corbett, the state attorney general who’s running for governor, thinks there’s something fishy about the celebrity boxing matches that local guy Damon Feldman has been staging, events that have featured guys like Gervase Peterson from Survivor and chicken-eating champ El Wingador and wrestler Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. I know what you’re thinking. There has to be a law against calling these people celebrities. But no — Corbett’s complaint is about the boxing. His office last week charged Feldman with fixing the results of the fights. Say it ain’t so, Beefcake! [SIGNUP]
I’ve written about Feldman’s events in Philadelphia magazine, once in a profile of Danny Bonaduce and once in a story about Feldman. I’m not sure why people come out to watch, say, Tonya Harding trade punches with a local waitress. I’m pretty sure finding out who wins isn’t the big draw, that it’s more about guess-what-freak-show-I-saw-last-night? I could be wrong. Maybe I was too cavalier after Jose Canseco outpunched Bonaduce for three minutes at the Ice Works in Aston, in a Feldman event, and the judges called the fight a draw. I wrote: “You were expecting the celebrity fight at the skating rink to have a legitimate decision?” When a tough-talking former cop came into the ring to fight Rodney King looking a lot weaker than the pre-fight hype, I wrote, “Either ex-cop Aouad is a lot more bark than bite, or he’s not bringing 100 percent.”
Did I know if those events were rigged? No. Did I care? No.
Corbett’s office is right about the other half of its charges: Feldman’s events involve hitting, and they should be regulated to make sure they’re safe. The State Athletic Commission has declined to do that by refusing to give Feldman a promoter’s license. In 2008, a judge denied the commission’s petition to stop him from staging more events, in effect letting him operate unregulated. But rigging results of these non-sport spectacles? You might as well say the circus is rigged.
Really state regulators just want Feldman to go away. Now he probably will. Feldman plans to take his next event, featuring human doodle-pad “Bombshell” McGee, to another state. And he says a production company is working with him on a pilot for a reality show about his life. Do you know what that makes his latest legal troubles? A potential episode.
DON STEINBERG is a Philly Mag contributing editor.