Octogenarian Fight Promoter Don King – A press release crossed our desk the other day bearing the title “Don King’s Peace & Love Roundup.” The release stated that King was planning a worldwide tour in memory of Muhammad Ali. He’s calling it “Salute to Greatness.”
“I brought international fame and acclaim to cities and countries, brought them worldwide recognition, put them on the map,” King was quoted as saying. “We put Manila on the map, same with Zaire and many other places. With this series, we’re open to do things that have never happened before.
“We could go anywhere and everywhere, we’re gonna conquer the world. They’re calling me. Africa is calling me. I don’t even have to call them.”
A key component of King’s grand vision is Bermane Stiverne, the Haitian who relocated to French speaking Canada and now trains in Las Vegas. With Deontay Wilder on the shelf with a broken hand, the WBC has mandated that Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) fight Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) for their interim belt. Stiverne is Don King’s fighter.
“We could do the fight in Russia, the U.S., even Africa. I’m friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin and I’m a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, who I’ve known a long time. Maybe the Presidents could sit together at ringside.
King has had his tentacles into only a handful of fighters in recent years – Devon Alexander, Eric Molina, Tavoris Cloud, a few others even less noteworthy, and now Stiverne. In his heyday, the heavyweight division was his personal fiefdom. King had his hooks into all the alphabet soup champions, or so it seemed, and his reach extended to such standouts as Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Julio Cesar Chavez.
This reporter has interviewed Don King several times, exercises in futility as one comes away learning nothing. Ask the man a simple question such as what is so-and-so’s purse for this fight, and what you get is a long-winded, off-topic response studded with famous quotes and misquotes from great people in history – a tapestry of bullshit in the words of former Grantland writer Jay Caspian Kang.
In his heyday, not even his buddy Donald Trump was a slicker deal-maker. If King couldn’t out-smart an adversary, he out-worked him. The man was indefatigable, which sounds like a word that Don King invented.
But the bombastic, brillo-haired promoter, now 85 years old, slowed down in recent years. The death of his wife of 50 years to cancer in 2010 and a bad fall at a Cleveland hotel in 2013 took something out of him, but even before that he was losing his grip. It was as if too many hard battles at the negotiation table had taken their toll. One is reminded of the Tina Turner song: “I Don’t Wanna Fight (No More).”
Can Don King become relevant again? At his age likely not, but over the years those that underestimated him came away with egg on their face. And while he was exasperating for us ink-stained wretches, he was also fun to be around. The man could certainly light up a room.
“If Bermane (defeats Povetkin),” said King in the press release, “we take him around the world…. but the tour will go on with or without him. We shall overcome. This is the Love and Peace Roundup for me. I’m back in the saddle.
Octogenarian Fight Promoter Don King / Check out more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.