Imagination, Exaggeration and Donkingation

BY Rick Folstad ON October 30, 2002
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We've all heard the story. It's a poignant tale about a hard-luck kid growing up in the wrong part of town, how he would have been just another victim of the mean streets of Culiacan, Mexico had it not been for a kind, honest man who found the kid going through the garbage one day, looking for something to eat.

The kind, honest man bought the young ruffian a meal, brought him into the gym and spent the next 10 years grooming him to become champion of the world.

Then, at the pinnacle of his promising career, the kid was stolen by another promoter, a corrupt, unscrupulous man who was responsible for the fighter losing two fights while the kind, honest promoter was busy defending himself on wire fraud charges.

Only in America could a guy like Don King sue a guy like Bob Arum, claiming he stole one of his fighters: Julio Cesar Chavez. That's like Jesse James complaining that someone picked his pocket.

According to King's attorney, Alvin Davis, his client's reputation was "tarnished" when Arum took over as Julio's promoter.

We pause here to allow the laughter to die down....Tarnished reputation? Hey, that's pretty funny, Alvin. Seriously, what was your real argument?

By signing Chavez, Arum apparently blemished King's spotless reputation. Of course, doing hard time in the Big House will take a little shine off your reputation. Killing a man - being convicted of manslaughter - will leave a dull luster on an otherwise clean reputation. Being sued by just about every fighter you ever promoted will usually raise a few questions about your character, put a few nicks in the reputation.

So how do you tarnish a reputation that is already legendary for its absurdity?

Only in America.

According to newspaper reports, King told the jurors in a courtroom in Fort Lauderdale how he found poor Julio living in a rail car, groomed him for more than a decade and paid him $50 million in purses as he won six world championships.

Then Arum and Top Rank took him away and King lost between $14 million and $16 million.

Of course, Chavez was in his mid-30s at the time of the alleged theft and was pretty well finished as a world contender. And in the course of his long fight career with King, it's safe to say Chavez made King a buck or two, paid him back well for pulling him off the streets But I guess that's not the point.

What is the point is this: King and Arum have known each other for more than 25 years and their relationship has been rocky at best. They are the Lockhorns of boxing, Stan taking a wild swing at Laurel. No one peddles the sport better than they do, but there is not much room at the top and neither promoter is willing to clear some space for the other.

At one point in Monday's hearing, Circuit Judge Leroy Moe pleaded with King to control his testimony, which - according to the Associated Press- "often wandered."

"I've cautioned, I've wheedled, I've cajoled, I've sniveled, I've whined, everything I could do short of an order,'' the judge told King. "If I issue an order, I'm going to have to enforce it.''

As for this latest accusation made by King claiming Arum stole his fighter, I keep picturing Hasim Rahman in a hotel room holding a suitcase full of cash shortly after he stopped Lennox Lewis. And Don King is standing in the doorway smiling, telling Hasim to keep his voice down.

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