Don King

Don King, founder of Don King Promotions

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Donald "Don" King (born December 6, 1931), is a successful American boxing promoter particularly known for his hairstyle and flamboyant personality.


Early life

Prior to entering the world of boxing, King lived in Cleveland, Ohio. After dropping out of Case Western Reserve University, he ran an illegal bookmaking operation, and was charged for killing two men (two separate incidents 13 years apart). The first was determined to be justifiable homicide, but King was convicted of manslaughter for the second killing, for which he served just under four years in prison.

Career as a boxing promoter

King entered the boxing world in his hometown of Cleveland. After convincing Muhammad Ali to box a charity exhibition for a local hospital, with the help of singer Lloyd Price, King began one of history's most successful careers in boxing promotion. King had access to investors, whose money he would need to cover expenses, but he was inexperienced in the fight game. Don Elbaum, who already had a stable of fighters in Cleveland and years of experience in boxing, agreed to form a partnership with King.

In 1974, King negotiated to promote a heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in (DR Congo)Zaire, popularly known as "The Rumble in the Jungle." The fight between Ali and Foreman was a much-anticipated event. King's rivals all sought to promote the bout, but King was able to secure the then-record $10 million purse through an arrangement with the Zaire government.

King solidified his position as one of boxing's preeminent promoters the following year with the third fight between Ali and Joe Frazier in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, which King deemed the "Thrilla In Manila." Aside from promoting the premier heavyweight fights of the 1970s, King was also busy expanding his boxing empire. Throughout the decade, he compiled an impressive roster of fighters, many of whom would finish their career with Hall of Fame credentials. Fighters like Larry Holmes, Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Salvador Sanchez, Wilfredo Gómez, and Alexis Arguello would all fight under the Don King Productions promotional banner in the 1970s.

For the next two decades, King continued to be among boxing's most successful promoters. Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Julio César Chávez, Aaron Pryor, Bernard Hopkins, Ricardo Lopez, Felix Trinidad, Terry Norris, Carlos Zarate, Azumah Nelson, Andrzej Golota, Mike McCallum, and Meldrick Taylor are some of the boxers who chose King to promote many of their biggest fights.

Outside of boxing, he also managed the Jacksons' 1984 Victory Tour.

Popular culture

King has become a prominent figure in the media. He frequently appears on talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel and Howard Stern to promote fights. Recently, he was portrayed by Dave Chappelle in a skit about a "Gay America," promoting a boxing match between two homosexual boxers.

In the third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, the emperor emerges from a bell struck by a cannonball with his hair sticking straight up. Donatello says, "Hey, look - Don King!" King is well known for his hairstyle. In a 1993 interview with Jet magazine, King said that he uses Aqua Net hairspray and a comb to style his coif every day.

A 1996 episode of The Simpsons featured a boxing promoter named Lucius Sweet, described by Homer Simpson as being "exactly as rich and as famous as Don King and he looks just like him too!"

The character of flashy boxing promoter George Washington Duke, played by Richard Gant in the film Rocky V, is based on King, even using King's famous catchphrase "Only in America!" In 1997, actor Ving Rhames played King in a made for TV movie, Don King: Only in America which aired on HBO. Rhames won a Golden Globe award for his portrayal of King. However, at the ceremony, Rhames gave up his award and presented it to Jack Lemmon, who was also nominated for his starring role in a remake of the movie Twelve Angry Men. In a 1998 episode of South Park, titled "Damien", Jesus and Satan are to have a boxing match to decide the conflict between good and evil, and Don King represents Satan.

King had a brief cameo as himself in the 1997 movie The Devil's Advocate. He is politically active; he made media appearances promoting George W. Bush during the 2004 U.S. presidential election, which included attendance at the Republican National Convention in New York. In the episode "My Brother's Keeper" of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Carlton is portrayed as Don King in one of Will's dreams. On an episode of Boy Meets World, Cory is having really bad hair problems, and his hair is similar to Don King's. One kid even made fun of Cory by saying, "Hey look, it's Don King." In Celebrity Deathmatch, Don King's death was a running gag during the series' first season. In the final episode of the second season, he was matched against Donald Trump, with King being killed again, this time in the ring.

An episode of 'Operation Good Guys' contained one character promoting a fight and parodying Don King. A popular joke, "Your armpits are so hairy it looks like you put Don King in a headlock". (Credit: Wikipedia).



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