It’s Good to be the King
By Rob Scott (August 18, 2004) 
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When looking at the current state of the heavyweight division, questions of notoriety always seem to surface. The current heavyweight champions seem to need an identity enhancement. If Chris Byrd were in your neighborhood mall, how many people would notice him? Vitali Klitschko might be noticed because of his size, but would he be known? Let’s switch that question from fighter to promoter. Outside of a boxing event, which promoter would be known? We can even ask that question of their presence at a boxing event. Even then, would they be known? The answer to those questions are, for some, by few; but for Don King, by many.

It could be because of his electrified hair. Maybe it is because of his distinct voice saying, “Only in America”. Whatever the reason that you know Don King, he seems to be happy. Whether you call him King, D.K, or just plain Don, he just wants you to call him.

King has been known the 'PT Barnum of Boxing'. He has been called the promoter that has made the most millionaires in boxing history. He has been called a giving philanthropist. With these things, he has also had many negative tags put in conjunction with his name. They have been the names that totally conflict with the positive names that have been said about this notable, one of a kind promoter. With every person who has said that King has given, there are those that are quick to say that he has taken away.

He isn’t called 'The Greatest Promoter in the World' for nothing. In this dog-eat-dog profession, King has not only stepped on toes, but actually has stomped on toes to get where he is. He has been sued and indicted enough times that a courtroom seems to be a country club to him. He has had his share of negative books and articles written about him. That is something that he has been just fine with. He seems to just ask that you spell his name right.
It is these thoughts that have made King’s reputation grow, even for the worse. I remember reading an article about the relationship between Madonna and Dennis Rodman. It said that Madonna gave Rodman the subliminal advice of “Publicity of any kind is good publicity.” Think of Rodman in his post-Madonna life… need I say more? Don King has known that thought pattern many years before the 'Material Girl'.

Don isn’t only a business man/promoter, he is a celebrity. In 1998, when King made his return to Atlantic City after being banned, the fight poster had a picture of not Johnny Tapia and Nana Kanadu, the main event fighters, but one of King himself. That was a way of showing that in essence, make no mistake about it, it was the Don King Show. One might say that he took attention away from his fighters on this night. Tapia definitely thought so, but the reality of it was, people came to see the fights, but they also came to see the show that is Don King. King has been banned from Atlantic City once again, but the show will go on, elsewhere. With the return of Felix Trinidad and the restructuring of the heavyweights, it could turn out to be Atlantic City’s loss.

King might remains on top because of questionable business tactics, but it is also good old fashion hard work that keeps Don King Productions afloat. I was there when he arrived in Atlantic City the night before the Tapia-Kanadu fight. Carl King was already in town, where he made an appearance two days prior on a local boxing television show called 'The Foreman' in place of King. We didn’t get a chance to interview King until his arrival in town. When Don arrived he was visibly exhausted. He was exhausted but was aware that he had several newspapers and television shows that were there to interview him. That was just the thing to wake him up. There never seems to be a camera or microphone that he doesn’t like. It seemed to give him a rush. His interviews lasted another three hours. Not bad stamina for a person that, at the time, was a day shy of his 66th birthday.

Helping conduct that interview with Foreman on Boxing, was the first of many times that I encountered King. Now at the age of 72, King doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Just as it is said that a fighter can become old over night, at his age when will King become visibly old in this profession that he has reigned over for three decades?

With all the bad press and accusations that have come his way for all these years, one might ask, “What good is it for a man to have all this fame if he has to sell his soul? In the end will it be worth it?" King would have to answer that for himself, but for now he is content with being #1, however he gets there.
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