Monday, September 17, 2007

Don King: Saint and Sinner

Okay, I’ve got weird heroes. Don King, for example. I guess one of the reasons why I like Don King is because everyone was always trying to brainwash me so I’d hate the guy. The sportswriters from the most schmuck newspapers in the world (think Pocono Record) would always have an unkind word to say about Don King. The only reason they could cite, as far as I could see, was that their fellow schmuck sportswriters also hated Don King. In calling such people “sportswriters”, I’m taking extreme liberties with the language. In reality, most of the schmucks care nothing about boxing and do not have the intellectual curiosity to learn anything about it. Like cows accustomed to being fed and fattened, they feed on a steady diet of what I call the “Beer Sports” (baseball, football, golf, etc.). The monotony and hum-drum of this rather thin fare is broken up by the occasional photo story about some high school tennis girl or hockey player who can be photographed in knickers.

I’ve noticed that the more insignificant and untalented the sportswriter is, the more he (or she) tended to pile on Don King. Truth to tell, it had just the opposite effect on me.
I figured a guy who had so many insignificant and effete so-called sportswriters as enemies must be doing something right. Everyone forgets now that Muhammad Ali was similarly declared an untouchable in his early days.

Okay, I get it that Don King is a player and that he woos fighters with an eye to making money. But how is it that different from the owner of a baseball team or team of NASCAR drivers? Don’t they all court the type of players or drivers who will make them rich? Or am we supposed to believe that there is philanthropy in the selection of football draft picks and ignominy when Don King goes after a fighter he thinks will make it big?

Anyway, I always had a soft spot for the rebel. Don King’s a rebel. He’s a guy who came up from nowhere, and he’s taken his own path to success and redemption. It’s true that boxing made Don King rich but don’t forget that Don King also made boxing rich. Don King and others like him pulled together multi-million dollar purses by seeing the opportunities presented in developing media like PPV and the cable companies. That type of effort benefited a large number of people in addition to boxers and their families. The broadcast media companies (HBO, ShowTime, etc) profited and so do the casinos, the newspapers, hotel chains, and just about everyone else who ever made money from sport.

It may be anti-climatic now to say that I’m adding a link to Don King’s website but that’s what started me on this rant. It’s worth checking out. With so much money and power at his disposal, King has been doing things like pledging to raise $150 million for a veteran’s memorial in KY. He’s recently visited the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and commented on the Warsaw uprising.

And of course, there’s the boxing. Lots of boxing.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you O.G Don King is a businessman first and thats what everyone dosen't understand. Boxing is a "cut throat" business everyone needs to know that. The average boxing fan or fighter expects a promoter to be the boxers friend which is not the case (Not Saying That Cant Happen). Like you said King has made himself rich as well as people directly intouch with him. You may or may not know Don King to be famous for the "Brown paper bag theory" which only means he gives fighters under the tabel aka un taxable dollars at large amounts (INSENTIVES). You may have heard of him giving Hasim "The Rock" Rahman a million dolars after the big K.O of Lennix Lewis to sign with him and Ricardo Mayorga a new Corvett alonge with 250K to sign with him after the big K.O of Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis, and just another my man Zab "Supa" Judah a brand new Bently, new H2 fully customized Hummer, new house 3 Million signing bonus and oh yeah 100K after the 9th round K.O in the rematch over Cory"The Next Generation" Spinks he got a Million BIG ones for that and before signing with "The King" he wasn't getting more than 50K per fight. Thats just to name a few he will make you fight the best because thats what the fighters claim to be. Now like any business or businessman he will get his money back and then some.
In the eyes of some he may have stole money from fighters like Ali but you dont know what he has done for them or what he gave them in that Brown Paper Bag, listen that bag changes lives take a sec. and think what a 100K can do for you

The Champ R.J "Mr. Untouchable" Sockwell

Anonymous said...

The amounts of money are staggering and so are the "tax incentives"...:).... I'd heard of the "brown bag" business but not in connection with Zab. No doubt, King's the big boy on the block and has the juice to engender a boxing monopoly. But how is it different from Bill Gates (Microsoft), Donald Trump, George Soros, or the thousands of multi-millionaires whose names you don't even know, here in the U.S. and around the world?

Hey, you're a pretty good writer as well as a fighter... You ought to let it flow....