Professional boxing looks like it's on the verge of being regulated by the federal government, but despite a deal being cut by opposing Senators John McCain and Harry Reid, promoter Don King has ladled out plenty of money to make sure that President Bush never signs the historic bill.
King also cut a deal with Republicans to raise money for the party and even recorded a campaign commercial, that's done under the guise of a boxing match with King doing the blow-by-blow, lambasting Bush's Democratic opponent John Kerry.
McCain, the Vietnam war hero and ex POW who was hideously tortured and did 5 1/2 years in captivity, has championed boxing reform for nearly a decade, though it has done nothing for him politically.
"King and (Bob) Arum don't want boxing reform, but we're going to win because there are going to be more scandals," McCain says.
McCain, a maverick Republican, chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, and his boxing reform bill passed last year by unanimous vote. But before it could be voted upon by the full Senate, the bill was bottled up by Reid for a year, after King and Arum had given Reid a total of $50,000 in campaign contributions.
McCain's bill, which would've greatly cleaned up the game, called for the establishment of a United States Boxing Administration, under the auspices of the Department of Labor. It would've licensed pro fighters, managers, promoters and the scandal-marred sanctioning outfits, which have been a cancer on the sport and have helped destroy boxing’s credibility. Under McCain's USBA, if a violation had occurred, someone's license could've been pulled.
King, however, was desperate that it didn't happen. Though Blacks made up just 9% of Bush's Republican vote in 2000, and Bush has refused to meet with the NAACP for four long years, King lauded Republicans for their "inclusion" and recently hosted a Republican National Committee fundraiser at his Deerfield, Florida mansion where twenty-five couples paid $25,000 a piece, and generated $625,000 for the bulging Republican coffers. But according to public records, King's own campaign contributions prove that the only thing he's trying to really buy is influence.
On January 13, 2004, King gave $25,000 to the "Republican National Committee," yet on December 22, 2003 he ponied up $5,000 to the "Nevada Senate Campaign," which is just a euphemism for Reid, a Democrat. King gave another $5,000 on December 22 to the "Democratic Senate Campaign," but that was cancelled out by the $5,000 he gave on August 12, 2003 for the "National Republican Senate Campaign."
King has constantly been accused of cheating his fighters, but on December 30, 2003 King gave two separate checks of $2,000 a piece to a gent named Jewitt Bradley. Yet, on August 12, 2003, this fervent backer of George Bush gave Carol Mosely Braun's hapless Democratic presidential campaign $2,000. On June 16, 2002 King gave George W. Bush, the President of the United States, another $2,000, which is the individual maximum allowed by the confusing campaign finance laws. Though Missouri Democrat Dick Gephardt was also after Bush's job, King gave him money as well.
King even gave $2,000 to then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi. Lott was another conservative Republican, and he'd been lambasted for his ties to the White Citizens Council, a watered down version of the Ku Klux Klan. But as Senate Majority Leader, Lott could kill a bill that King didn't like.
The flag-waving King gets away with parroting the cliché about Bush's "steady leadership," but if King has sold his soul, then his "record" is fair game for public scrutiny.
While King blasts Kerry, who has a privileged background and Yale education, the facts show that while King was in the illegal numbers business in Cleveland with organized crime figure Moe Dalitz, Kerry was wounded three times in Vietnam and was awarded three purple hearts. He also won the Bronze Star and Silver Star for bravery when he served in the Navy.
Kerry's commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. George Elliot, lauded the Massachusetts junior Senator, and claims, "He effectively suppressed enemy fire and is unofficially credited with 20 enemy killed in action."
King has 'killed in action' too. On April 20, 1966 he kicked a junkie named Sammy Garrett to death on the mean streets of Cleveland. Garrett's last words were reportedly, "Please Donald, "I'll pay you the money."
King outweighed Garrett by 100 pounds. King had a pistol, while Garrett had tuberculosis and one kidney.
In December 1954, King shot Hillary Brown to death after Brown and two henchman tried to stick up one of King's illegal gambling joints on East 23rd Street. It was ruled "justifiable homicide."
King went to prison for beating Garrett to death, but was facing life. Suddenly, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer screamed, "Judge Cuts Hood's Murder Penalty" and King got off with just three years and eleven months.
King went right back into the rackets, claims longtime boxing figure Don Elbaum, before he took over boxing. Yet while Kerry organized the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, testified in front of Congress, eventually prosecuted criminals as a District Attorney and became a United States Senator, in the early 1990s King took the Fifth Amendment against possible self-incrimination before a Senate Subcommittee investigating boxing. He refused to clarify what his relationship was with Mafia Godfathers Paul Castellano and John Gotti.
A Mob snitch, Michael Franzese, testified that he was present when King told Castellano, who then ran New York City, they'd "Never lose money on any deal they had together."
In 1981, Richie Giachetti, who'd trained Larry Holmes and others in King's boxing stable, went to Mike Marley of the New York Post because he feared being murdered by King.
"I'm fearful of my life," Giachetti said, in Marley's shocking story. "I think they would try to make it look like a mugging. A bombing, an outright killing, would be too obvious. The Mob guys have come to see me. My family is very scared and my two kids are upset. I make sure I don't go out alone."
Marley, however, later went to work as King's publicity man.
While President Bush and Vic President Dick Cheney speak often of "law and order," money is the mother's milk of politics and Republican National Committee spokeswoman, Tara Wall calls King "a patriot."
King tried to pay off McCain in 2000, offering him $1 million towards his cash-starved Presidential campaign, but McCain laughed at him and Bush won the Republican nomination. Officially, King has come out against federal control of boxing because it "hurts the entrepreneurial spirit of the sport." But if you believe King's former fighters like Tim Witherspoon, Saul Mamby and Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson, they were forced to take on Don's step-son, Carl King as their "manager." Under the law this is racketeering. Despite the "Ali Act," which mandates that a "firewall" exist between promoter and manager, Carl King still "manages" fighters who only fight for Don King.
Don King and Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie recently began an "Economic Empowerment Tour" in Detroit.
"We're going to talk about how we can make that change, to educate and uplift and enlighten our people," King said piously.
If you don't believe him, just ask Terry Norris and Mike Tyson. King recently settled out of court with Norris for $2.5 million, after Norris found out he was fighting under sweetheart contracts. King held the deed to his manager's ranch. King agreed to pay off Tyson $14 million, after Tyson proved that his "managers," John Horne and Rory Holloway, were also on King's payroll and he was fighting for short money.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?