MARK ZUCKERBERG AND Elon Musk’s ‘will they, won’t they’ cage fight continues to be shrouded in uncertainty. Yesterday, Musk posted that the fight would be livestreamed on X, with proceeds going to support army veterans. But this morning, he appeared to be in retreat, saying he: “may need surgery before the fight can happen” due to problems with his neck and upper back.
Zuck replied on Threads that he had proposed August 26 as a fight date but is “not holding my breath”. A further post took a swing at tech glitches that have hit X, with Zuck suggesting: “Shouldn’t we use a more reliable platform that can actually raise money for charity?” Savage.
The fact is, Zuck is ready to rumble. The Meta CEO regularly spars with pro fighters like Israel Adesanya, Mike Muscemi and Khai “The Shadow” Wu. Last month, he earned a blue belt at Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu and now there are reports that he’s erected an Octagon in his backyard, a development that did not appear to impress his wife, Priscilla Chan.
Men’s Health reports that Zuck recently shared a screengrab of a WhatsApp exchange between himself and Chan on Instagram:
“Did you see the octagon I put in the backyard?” Zuck asked, to which Chan replied: “Yes, I saw it.”
“It looks awesome,” he continued. “We have plenty of yard space!”
“I have been working on that grass for two years,” a clearly non-plussed Chan replied.
Now, with an estimated net worth of $167 billion, we’re pretty sure Zuck does have plenty of yard space but damn, bro, lawns don’t grow themselves. Chan’s less than enthusiastic response is perhaps less about the lawn (though spending two years on immaculate grass curation might indicate she’s got a little caught up herself) and more about her husband’s now clearly out-of-control obsession with fighting.
And this is a legitimate concern. When a partner begins to devote a sizeable portion of their waking hours to a particular past-time, be it Brazilian jiu-jitsu, home brewing or horticulture, if it comes at the expense of quality couple time, it will inevitably strain a marriage.
I know this because I once trained for a half-ironman (apologies for the flex). It required me to ride a couple of hours each morning, run another hour after work and then spend most of Saturday riding to Wollongong, running around Centennial Park and then swimming a few lengths of Coogee Beach (I swear all this flexing has a point). I remember my partner at the time (yeah, didn’t work out, no idea why) was less than impressed. “You know, you’re not a pro athlete, right?” she said when I staggered in the door. But here’s the thing: I didn’t know that. So obsessed had I become with “brickwork”—that’s what ‘we’ triathletes call back-to-back sessions in which you go from the bike straight into a run to condition your legs for a race (if you know, you know), that I had lost perspective. I didn’t expect to win the race but I was consumed by a desire to ‘not to leave anything in the tank’.
In the midst of my sweaty descent into a roiling spiral of physical improvement, robust mental health and ballooning ego—weird but obsessed dudes tend to get pretty full of ourselves—I do remember looking around at the people I was training with and noticing that they all appeared to be single, many of them newly-arrived expats and some of them recently divorced. Looking back now it’s pretty clear the hours required to train for a triathlon are not compatible with a healthy relationship. And regardless of the pastime, be it running, surfing, or er, geochaching, at some point the hours you devote to it can have diminishing returns for your home life and relationship. I’ve often wondered if the divorced guys in my triathlon group had joined the club before getting divorced or after. Did the obsession contribute to the relationship breakdown or, now that they were single, were they using exercise and the camaraderie of the club to find a new version of themselves—I guess I could have asked them during one of our lycra-clad café-conquering post-ride coffees.
Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with finding a passion. Most partners would much rather be with someone who is pursuing goals and has an interior life of their own. In some cases, a little time apart can benefit a relationship. My mum became a ‘golf widow’ after my dad turned 40 and began hitting the links every weekend. Nearly forty years later, in retirement, he’s still on the course five or six times a week and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have it any other way—beats having him bang around the house all day being bored, I guess.
But there is a point when you can lose sight of why you’re pursuing your passion in the first place. And it’s perhaps when, like Zuck, you find yourself shadow boxing in an Octagon in your backyard at 4 in the morning while your wife sleeps inside, that you know you’ve gone ‘too deep.’ I have no idea if Zuck has actually done that, it’s just a nice image.
Which is why, if this proposed cage match does actually materialise, I’m sorry to say it, but Elon, you chose the wrong tech bro to fuck with. Musk is a casual who’s chosen to take on a zealot.
Let’s just hope that in that event, Zuck’s hypothetical victory isn’t a pyrrhic one and that when he walks in the door and Priscilla says, “You know you’re not a professional fighter, right?”, he doesn’t answer with an indignant, “You better believe I am” and instead replies, “I know honey, it’s over now”.