He walks in, adjusts his abnormally long dreads, places his helmet down on the right arm rest of a one-seated couch, and grabs a cigar. Not just any, but his own custom blend of Diamante’s.
“I love smoking cigars,” said Diamante, in between puffing clouds of cigar smoke in the direction of the open front door. “There’s kind of a subculture around cigars. I used to have to go to Manhattan, that’s where the cigar lounges were. We didn’t have it in Brooklyn, I put this here.”
Diamante has lived in Brooklyn for the last 15 years. Diamante’s Brooklyn Cigar Lounge opened across the street from Lafayette Avenue’s C train station in 2009.
Barclays Center broke ground in March of 2010, and opened its doors 30 months later. Diamante assumed the role of public address announcer for the Brooklyn Nets in 2011, working their final season in New Jersey and the first five in Brooklyn.
Recently, Diamante stepped down from the post, but maintains his place in the Barclays family, continuing his PA announcer duties for local fight cards, as he’s done for about 15 years professionally.
His love for boxing grabs your attention as soon as you walk into his cigar lounge. The walls are covered in boxing memorabilia, including a framed Muhammad Ali “fight pose” a few feet away from his collection of ready-to-sell cigars.
“I’m deep into boxing,” he said. “I wanted a lounge that’s traditional in a sense. I’ve never seen one the way I had it in my mind: old wood, leather, black-and-white photos, old boxing pictures. Just a place where men and women could come, smoke cigars and talk, like a neighborhood living room.
“We get all kinds of different people in here from all walks of life, it’s very diverse,” he added. “Part of the cigar subculture is bringing people together.”
Prior to obtaining his PA duties, the current voice of Brooklyn Boxing was training out of Kings Boxing Gym in East Oakland and later trained at an abundance of gyms located in New York City after moving back east.
“I have an affinity for fighters, I just love them,” he said. “They’re great people, they give their all in the ring, and I tip my hat to all of them.”
However, he quickly learned that boxing wouldn’t be his calling, but wanted to remain in the sport.
“I looked at announcing as a dream job,” he said. “I loved Ed Derian, Mark Biero, I just liked their style. I just thought it was a great gig so I started to do it on a small level, and I did it for many years. Then it just built up.”
Diamante, 45, has also loved bikes as long as he can remember. In fact, one of the reasons his boxing training came to an end was because of a motorcycle accident. When asked how many accidents he’s had, he smiled, shook his head and said “we’ll just let that one go.”
A serious one occurred in March 2017 in San Francisco, where he broke his arm in five places and fractured his tibia.
“It was terrible,” Diamante said, rummaging around for his phone to show graphic photos of the aftermath. “The doctor said he’s never seen anything like it. I still feel pain, the arm will never be the same. I was lucky to be alive.”
Despite that, he rides on. Prior to working the Adrien Broner-Mikey Garcia fight card at Barclays this past July, Diamante was in China.
From China he flew to Saigon, bought a motorcycle and rode through Vietnam and Cambodia. He later flew to Taipei. He’s also ridden from India to Pakistan and through El Salvador and Colombia.
“Bikes are a great way to experience your natural surroundings,” he said. “You can smell the air. You’re a part of your surroundings instead of observing, and I love it.”
Though, Diamante is leaving his role as the Nets’ PA announcer, he calls his six years with the club an amazing time of his life.
“I feel like six years is a nice number,” he said. “I am doing a lot of other things and there are some other opportunities that I’m following right now. I wanted to do it and take at least a year to try to expand and follow those other opportunities and see where that goes.”
Diamante did mention exploring new movie and television opportunities, and he has a background in both. He previously hosted The Lights on NBC Sports, and had roles in Southpaw, Irish Ropes, Back In The Day and Night of Henna. He also recently returned from Los Angeles, where he was working on a film with William Shatner.
“I’m still apart of the Barclays family,” he said, winding down on his nearly finished cigar. “Brooklyn Boxing I think is one of the marquee boxing brands in the sport, and Barclays Center is becoming the mecca of boxing, not just here in New York but America.
“I’m super blessed, man,” he added with a smile. “No complaints.”