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October 17, 2018

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Transmission from Ely includes the last word from Cheadle, and a famous boxing mouthpiece


Erik Kabik/Retna/

Tournament runner-up Shannon Elizabeth, Norman Epstein, Don Cheadle, Annie Duke and champion Phil Gordon, seated, at Ante Up for Africa at The Rio on July 2, 2010.

In Photos: 2010 Ante Up for Africa

Ante Up for Africa at The Rio on July 2, 2010. Launch slideshow »
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Evander Holyfield at Ante Up for Africa at The Rio on July 2, 2010.

At this writing, I am at Hotel Nevada in Ely, a five-story neon beacon that sits just off U.S. 93.

In 1929, the year Hotel Nevada was built, it was the tallest building in the entire state. Such luminaries as Lyndon Johnson, Charlie Rich and Mickey Rooney have spent at least one night at Hotel Nevada.

I learned all of this on the elevator ride to my fourth-floor cabinet. Suite, I mean.

Hotel Nevada is dog- and biker-friendly, too, so there is a fair chance that there is a person, a canine and a motorcycle named "Harley" here tonight.

Something else about Hotel Nevada: free WiFi. And not only is the wireless Internet provided at no cost, but they make no big deal about it here. It's, like, a given. Like providing pillows. Or, maybe, chain lube.

I'm on the way to see my family in Boise, and this is a far less dramatic adventure than this bending strip of asphalt offered a year ago when I made an unexpected pit stop in Caliente.

As I recline in the Presidential Cabinet, or rather Suite, the Jailhouse motel-casino's lights bathe this rustic old building. I'm liking it. The gleaming bikes lined up out front are quiet, and I'm going to tap out some notes from far-off Las Vegas. Hate to waste this WiFi.

The momentum of philanthropy

Prior to Saturday's "Ante Up for Africa" celebrity charity poker tournament at the Rio, I asked organizer Don Cheadle how he responds to criticism that he's raising millions for relief efforts in Darfur when there is so much need for such work in the U.S.

"I know people who feel that way. I don't really know what to say to that, not just those people specifically, but that kind of ideology," he said. "I found something I was passionate about, that spoke to me, and I tried to figure out a way to become part of the solution. I would encourage anyone — whatever inspires them — to motivate themselves to become a part of the solution. ... I work with a lot of organizations (Cheadle has given his time and resources to several national and international charitable groups). This particular organization has special dispensation because we are talking about genocide, we are talking about the highest crime that is committed against mankind."

Cheadle says anyone criticizing those who want to provide aid outside the physical borders of the United States should channel that energy into positive change.

"A lot of times, when people ask, 'Why don't you do something here, too?' they often are not doing anything. Instead of attacking us, try to do something positive," he said. "In the United States, we have people living below the poverty line in the richest country in the world. It makes no sense. Our education system is in a shambles. We're huge contributors to waste and to carbon emissions. I personally think that passion creates passion, and advocacy and work creates advocacy and work.

"If you just step out and start being part of the solution, you realize you are part of a huge community that is doing that on a multiplicity of levels. So just get involved, get started. Once you start it, you find it."

This year's event was won by poker pro Phil Gordon, who donated the whole of his $129,086 check to Ante Up for Africa. The entire take for the organization surpassed $275,000.

Boxing's next Frontier?

Fueling anticipation that the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather will be a spectacle on the Strip is information bleeding out of Wynn Las Vegas that Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva was in town over the July 4 weekend. Tshuva's Elad Group owns the property on which the Frontier once stood, which would be the parcel used for a temporary arena for the fight in the event Steve Wynn signs on as the bout's resort host. Tshuva is said to be a colorful, dynamic character, and is surrounded by such. Good. Boxing needs more of that ilk.

And talking of boxing venues, former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield said Las Vegas is his favorite city in which to punch people for pay.

"It is, it is," he said while striding the red carpet at "Ante Up for Africa." Though Mayweather is a Las Vegan, Holyfield said the city largely is immune to curiously tilted scorecards.

"You don't get hometown decisions in Las Vegas, put it that way," said Holyfield, an expert on controversial decisions and rulings dating to his amateur career. Holyfield first gained international fame when he was bilked of a chance to fight for a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics because of a controversial loss in the semifinal round. In a foul-marred bout, Holyfield was disqualified for slamming New Zealand's Kevin Barry on a break.

Barry was knocked unconscious, and thus knocked out of the gold-medal bout against Yugoslavia's Anton Josipovic.

The official in the bout, Gligorije Novicic, was himself Yugoslavian. Until the Yugo came along, that ruling was the biggest lemon in the country's history.

Holyfield also said fighters know that Las Vegas is accustomed to putting on a grand show.

"Vegas kind of has everything mapped out already," he said. "Everything they do here is first class."

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