Rock Newman could have been sunning on a beach in Bermuda or promoting some hot new sports star in Las Vegas. Instead, he’s back on his old stomping grounds in D.C.
The millionaire boxing promoter/political insider gets bored at lot, which is why he just moved back to the Beltway from Las Vegas and launched a weekly radio show on WeAct Radio (1480 AM).
“My dream was to have enough money so I didn’t have to do anything,” he told us. “I tried it. In less that two weeks, I went crazy; I felt like a hostage. I found out that my joy and my energy came from being engaged and active.”
Early Saturday morning, Newman parked his cream-colored Rolls outside a tiny studio in D.C.’s Ward 8 to meet a bunch of high-profile pals invited to his inaugural broadcast/61st birthday party, complete with champagne and custom cake.
Former mayors Marion Barry, Tony Williams and Sharon Pratt joined him on the air, the latter by phone. Mayor Vincent Gray, in Florida for the Nationals spring training, sent a pre-taped greeting.
“You’re the only person I know who can get all of us together,” said Barry. The only no-show: Adrian Fenty.
“Adrian refused to respond,” Newman said with a smile. “I think it has much less to do with me than Adrian being Adrian.” And maybe something to do with Newman supporting Gray in the last election.
Of course, Newman can afford to do pretty much whatever he pleases: After years behind the scenes in D.C. politics, he took on local boxing champ Riddick Bowe, got really rich, moved to Vegas and Bermuda (“I loved that place, man”) and then finally circled back to Washington. “My decision to come back has pretty much everything to do with that this is home,” he told us. “I feel best when I’m here.”
Now the multimillionaire (“not as rich as people think”) is living in National Harbor, fast friends with MGM’s Lorenzo Creighton (leading MGM’s bid to build a casino at the resort waterfront), and returning to his radio roots. Activist Dick Gregory came by, sports commentator James Brown and Judge Greg Mathis called in, and the ex-mayors sat down with Prince George’s Country Executive Rushern Baker and former exec Wayne Curry to talk politics, statehood, education, and a D.C. football stadium. And that was just the first show.
“I don’t want to pay lip service to making the region a better place,” said Newman. “I want to be actively involved in that process. This gives me a voice.”
Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that MGM’s Lorenzo Creighton is president of the forthcoming casino. He is president of MGM National Harbor and leading the effort for the company to build the casino; the state of Maryland has not yet awarded the contract.
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