Rather Than Attend 9/11 Memorial with Other Presidents, Trump Opts for Boxing and Boasting

The former president made a solo appearance with New York police officers and firefighters before appearing at a boxing match in Florida; he also appeared in a taped message of support for the controversial Unification Church

Donald trump
Donald Trump. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty

While much of the country — including former presidents and their families — paused in solemn acknowledgement of the 20th anniversary of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Donald Trump had a busier and stranger weekend.

In addition to an visit marking 9/11 (where he inevitably complained about successor Joe Biden), the former president made chatty appearances at a boxing match and a conference organized by the widow of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who founded the controversial Unification Church.

Following a surprise trip Saturday to the New York Police Department's 17th precinct, where he complimented first responders and hinted at a 2024 run for the White House ("I know what I'm going to do," he said) Trump returned to Florida to comment on a boxing event at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Other presidents, meanwhile, marked the day with memorial visits: Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and their wives went to Ground Zero while George and Laura Bush visited Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where he delivered remarks.

Trump was invited to Ground Zero with the other presidents but did not attend.

Later Saturday, however, he was featured during a pay-per-view boxing match.

(L-R) Former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former President <a href="https://people.com/tag/barack-obama" data-inlink="true">Barack Obama</a>, former First Lady Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg's partner Diana Taylor and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) participate in a moment of silence during the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York.
Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP via Getty

Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort headlined the event, but Trump seemed delighted to also be in the spotlight providing commentary alongside son Donald Trump Jr. and 50 Cent.

When the crowd chanted, "We want Trump! We want Trump!'' the ex-president, who was kicked off most social media platforms in the wake of the Capitol attack by his followers, stood up in his box, smiled and shook his fist in the air, according to USA Today.

(Holyfield, 58, who replaced Oscar de la Hoya in the ring after he contracted COVID-19, lost in the first round thanks to a TKO.)

Trump is a longtime supporter of pugilism and hosted matches at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before it closed in 2014 and was eventually demolished in February.

At one point Saturday, while the boxing judges deliberated the results of an early fight, Trump weighed in with characteristic suspicion of the results: "It could be rigged."

The pay-per-view event, which aired on the FITE streaming platform for fans willing to pay $49.99, lasted almost three and a half hours. As it ended, Trump described the experience: "This is like a rally," he said, according to Politico.

But his day wasn't finished: Trump also delivered a message on Saturday via pre-recorded video at a conference of the Universal Peace Federation, an NGO established by Hak Ja Han Moon and her late husband, Sun Myung Moon, who founded the controversial Unification Church.

In his taped appearance at the Rally of Hope, Trump thanked Hak Ja Han Moon for her "incredible work on behalf of peace all over the world."

On social media, critics of the church denounced Trump's appearance, both for the apparent endorsement of an organization some have described as a "cult" and for the former president's remarks taking credit for his handling of a tense political situation on the Korean Peninsula during his administration.

Sun Myung Moon, who claimed that Jesus appeared to him when he was a teenager, founded the Unification Church in South Korea in 1954 before moving to the U.S. in 1971.

He was well known for performing mass weddings between thousands of strangers.

He also founded The Washington Times, a conservative paper, in 1982 and was convicted of tax evasion in the '80s. He died in 2012.

This article has been revised to clarify that the "Rally of Hope" is sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation and not directly by the Unification Church.

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