A cage fight between two American billionaires? Seriously?

Contrary to what Elon Musk says, his planned face-off with Mark Zuckerberg would be very modern, very brash, very 21st century
The Colosseum in Rome. Photo by Mark Stuckey on Unsplash

Is there anything more bizarre and unsavoury than the proposed cage fight between two American billionaires at an “epic location” in Italy?

Not content with a face-off over social media platforms – will Elon Musk’s X (the app formerly known as Twitter) lose out to Mark Zuckerberg’s Threads from Meta – they want to do it in person?

And surprise of surprises, they’ve even got the Italian government involved. According to reports, Mr Musk is in talks with Italy’s government about hosting the fight at a historic site in the country, even though the Colosseum – the largest useable such venue – is not in consideration.

That sounds sensible considering the Colosseum stopped serving as an entertainment hot spot in mediaeval times. No longer would it have gladiatorial contests and public spectacles of all sorts, indicating perhaps changing public tastes for such unregulated and base forms of fun. But one can imagine Mr Musk at least desperately seeking exactly such a storied spot as a backdrop for a brawl.

Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano is quoted in The Guardian to say he “had a long and friendly phone conversation” with Mr Musk. “We talked about the common passion for the history of ancient Rome. We are discussing how to organise a great charity and historical evocation event, in full respect of the sites. It will not be held in Rome”.

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg has responded with a full-on cry and a renewed challenge to the X owner: “I love this sport and I’ve been ready to fight since the day Elon challenged me. If he ever agrees on an actual date, you’ll hear it from me. Until then, please assume anything he says has not been agreed on.”

It sounds like it’s building up to quite a scrap, with Mr Musk posting tantalising details such as the fight would be livestreamed on X as well as on Mr Zuckerberg’s social media networks. He added: “Everything in camera frame will be ancient Rome, so nothing modern at all.”

Ah, but there he’s wrong. It’s very modern, very brash, very 21st century. The spectacle of two rich and powerful men hashing it out physically is like something out of the Dark Ages. And not even then.