(Updated 2/8/2014) Rapper DMX is in negotiations for a deal to step into the ring for a celebrity boxing match against George Zimmerman, the man who was acquitted last year in the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman recently announced that he had agreed to participate in a fight and planned to give part of the proceeds to charity. At the time, he said the promoter of the event was looking for an opponent.
Several news agencies, including CNN, reported this week that Zimmerman had selected DMX as his opponent. However, a publicist for DMX told Rolling Stone that the deal had not been inked.
“The boxing match between George Zimmerman and DMX is not officially confirmed,” Domenick Nati, DMX’s publicist, told the magazine. “DMX has promised to ‘beat his ass,’ but no contract or paperwork has been signed or agreed to yet. DMX will release an official statement if and when an agreement is made.”
News that Zimmerman planned to take part in the fight drew immediate protests. A Los Angeles woman, Janet Dickerson, has started a petition drive on change.org to have the fight stopped; she hopes to gather 100,000 signatures.
According to CNN, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he was concerned “about the precedent that it sets.”
“We must be very careful not to glorify or in any way sidestep the implications of making someone whose only claim to fame was killing an unarmed young man named Trayvon Martin into a cultural celebrity or hero,” Sharpton said.
The promoter-to-be of the event, Damon Feldman, announced the bout on the week that Martin would have turned 19, and set a fight date of March 15. He has scheduled a news conference for Feb. 12 for Zimmerman to discuss the fight, which would be seen on pay-per-view.
Zimmerman shot Trayvon, 17, in Sanford, Fla., after following the youth as he returned home from the store after buying Skittles and tea. His acquittal on second degree and manslaughter charges kicked off protests around the country and calls for the abolition of Stand Your Ground laws.
However, in a series of Twitter posts on Feb. 8, Feldman indicated that the bout had been cancelled amid rising criticism.
“The George Zimmerman fight is canceled,” Feldman tweeted. “I'm sorry for anyone I hurt with this but this was a very big opportunity thank you.”
“This was the wrong person to put in the ring and define celebrity boxing thank you,” he added. “I walked away from av [sic] million dollar payday with this fight but to be honest I’d rather be happy and make people happy thank you.”