The ghost of Donald King has been haunting the expanses of boxing battles for a long time. The ghost of the 91-year-old odious promoter, whose logo in the form of a crown was everywhere: on T-shirts, on posters, in the lower corner of television screens during boxing matches and on every available centimeter of the ring.
King himself, like a genie in a denim jacket, entered the ring between fights and, waving flags, shone with eloquence.
As a kid, I thought Don King was a typical product of the 1980s. I saw his face all the time between screenings of Scarface and Wall Street, but I didn't know where he came from, where he came from, and what time he was from. Once I even thought that he was the hero Lucius Sweet from The Simpsons, but it turned out that King is quite a specific person from Ohio.
King was engaged in illegal betting activities in Cleveland. At that time, as a result of a showdown, he shot a man, and a little later beat another to death. It is possible, though not proven, that King bribed officials to mitigate criminal punishment and obtain a pardon from the governor of Ohio.
In the 1970s, King entered the world of professional boxing and climbed to the very top. Thanks to his innate ability to persuade, he managed to persuade Muhammad Ali to come to Cleveland and take part in a not entirely honest charity event, and then he staged the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire. King very quickly built his empire, based on ruthless contracts with boxers and shady deals with representatives of the underworld, who always revolved in large numbers around big boxing matches.
In addition to boxing, King was very fond of photo shoots. He paid thousands of dollars to be on the covers of Sports Illustrated alongside Muhammad Ali. King dressed up as Santa Claus, posing with huge bags of money, and Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis stood next to him, like overgrown elves. And of course, the famous photo with Donald Trump, who, by the way, is also considered by many to be a fraud, like King himself. But I thought that King had been making noise all his life about the self-determination of blacks in America, and in 2016 he actively supported Trump, who, by the way, was branded for his ideas of white supremacy. In general, it seems that both Donalds have a good sense of the agenda and know how to use it.
What did King leave behind? On the one hand, there are a huge number of championship fights, for which the world community of boxing fans should be grateful to him in the grave of his life. On the other hand, there are broken destinies, former champions deprived of health and livelihood. No matter how disgusted we are with the image of King with his absurd hairstyle, we continue to watch fights with the participation of all his fighters. Thanks to him, we witnessed the greatness of Muhammad Ali, the ferocity of Mike Tyson and the tenacity of Bernard Hopkins.
Many fighters, through long litigation, still managed to get money from King that was not paid to them. But this is just a drop in the ocean among those who have received nothing.
King's last known boxer is Congolese native Ilunga Makabu, who competes in cruiserweight. Makabu, not without questions, defended the WBC belt twice, and in a duel against Thabiso Mchunu, he was able to win by split decision. But, since the show was held in King's home state of Ohio, the issue was resolved in favor of the reigning champion. However, in February 2023, justice still prevailed, Makabu was knocked out by a boxer from Sweden Badu Jack, and the champion belt passed to him.
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Despite his venerable age, Don King continues to arrange boxing matches. Very soon, namely on June 9, in Florida, under the auspices of King's promotion company, the legendary Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux, nicknamed the Jackal, who almost lost his sight as a result of the explosion of a pressure cooker in his kitchen, will again enter the ring.
So our hero is clearly not going to get used to the land, but one by one concludes new contracts. Making it clear that age is just a number.
In general, boxing teaches us the main thing: watching a fight is not at all a fetishism of suffering or enjoying victory, boxing is a better understanding of the inevitability of defeat in our own lives.
The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.