Cram 2,200 local businessmen in tuxedos, dozens of models in low-cut dresses serving cocktails, a handful of boxing legends, a couple of boxing matches and a giant cloud of cigar smoke into the Hilton Washington ballroom.
You have the 16th iteration of Fight Night, naturally, which took place Friday. The annual event, founded by real estate magnate Joseph E. Robert, raised more than $2 million for Fight for Children, which supports children's charities in the Washington area.
It makes for a different atmosphere than most of the events that bring together the city's business elite, with much larger steaks, even fewer businesswomen and more decolletage than at any Chamber of Commerce bash. And the entertainment was, well, eclectic. Rapper M.C. Hammer performed his 1990s hit "Too Legit to Quit," Chubby Checker sang his 1960s tune "The Twist," and the Washington Redskins cheerleaders danced to a recording of the Pussycat Dolls song that asks, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?"
The blank stares and open mouths in the crowd suggested that for many local executives, the answer tended to be, "Yes."
The biggest cheers, though, came for the retired boxers, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield and Joe Frazier. Robert presented a boxer's championship belt to the chairman of this year's event, First Washington Realty Inc. chief executive William J. Wolfe. Robert told the bookish Wolfe, "Bill, this is the first and only boxing belt you'll ever receive."
Much of the D.C. developer crowd was clustered in a small area. At the Jarvis Co.-RLJ Development table, N. William Jarvis dined with National Capital Revitalization Corp. chief executive Tony Freeman, Abdo Development boss Jim Abdo, and Abdo's new hire, former deputy mayor Eric W. Price. At the next table was Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty president Mitchell N. Schear, various broker types, and D.C. Council member (and mayoral candidate) Adrian Fenty.
How did Fenty, whose stand against a publicly funded baseball stadium and populist approach have often put him at odds with the business community, end up at the table of one of the biggest developers in town?
"He's my council member; why wouldn't I invite him?" said Schear, who lives in the District's Chevy Chase neighborhood that is part of Fenty's Ward 4.
-- Neil Irwin