With an outrageous and rather odd hairdo and flamboyant mannerism, no other man has managed to make a fortune out of promoting boxers as much as Don King. His life is one that shocks or rather jolts the day light out of many, for King’s eerie past activities which include manslaughter, street crime and jail sentence. He began his career in illegal bookmaking and soon ventured into boxing promotion. He became one of the most successful boxing promoters, promoting some of the most successful boxers like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Félix Trinidad, Roy Jones Jr. and Marco Antonio Barrera among many others. His career accomplishments include the promotion of the most famous and legendary boxing fights, ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ and the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, both of which launched his career. After this, his career took off and he went on to promote over 500 championship fights. However, a great number of boxers that he promoted accused him of fraudulent and mishandling of funds, including boxers like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
Childhood & Early Life
Donald ‘Don’ King was born to Clarence King and Hattie in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended the Kent State University for a brief period time, after which he dropped out of the same.
He began operating an illegal bookmaking operation and was later charged for the murder of two men, for which he served a jail term but was later granted pardon.
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In 1974, he began his first venture as a boxing promoter with the legendary and historic boxing event, ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’, which took place between Muhammad Ali and Heavyweight champion George Foreman.
In 1975, he promoted the boxing match, ‘Thrilla in Manila’, which took place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in Quezon City, Philippines. This was the third match between the two boxers.
In the 1970s he progressed as a boxing promoter and soon became one of the most successful promoters. By this time he had promoted fighters like Wilfred Ben�tez, Wilfredo G�mez and Larry Holmes.
In 1982, he was sued by Muhammad Ali for fraudulent handling of funds and underpaying the latter a sum of $1.1 million. He, however, ended the lawsuit by paying Ali a sum of $50,000 in cash.
In 1984, he managed ‘The Victory Tour’ of Michael Jackson and his brothers - ‘The Jacksons’.
In 1992, he was questioned by The Senate for his connection with organised crime and links with mobster John Gotti. He pleaded being not guilty and denied having any connections.
He was sued by Larry Holmes for mishandling of funds and accounting and auditing manipulation. He later made a settlement with the latter for a sum of $150,000.
In 1996, boxer Terry Wayne Norris accused him of not paying the amount that Wayne was entitled to and also accused him of stealing money. The dispute was settled out of court for a sum of $7.5 million.
He was sued by boxer Tim Witherspoon, who accused him of forcing him to sign contracts, including a blank contract and mishandling of funds. The dispute was later settled out of the court for a sum of $1 million.
In 1998, he became the owner of a weekly newspaper that was based in Cleveland. The main objective of the paper was to serve the African-American community.
He was sued by Mike Tyson for a sum of $100 million for cheating him with respect to funds for over a decade. The case, however, was settled out of court and he paid Tyson, a sum of $14 million.
In 2006, he was sued by boxer Chris Cornelius Byrd, who accused him of breach of contract. The case was settled out of court, after he made an agreement to release Byrd’s contract.
Awards & Achievements
In 1997, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
In 2008, he was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1959, he married Henrietta with whom he had three children. His wife died in the year 2010. He has five grandchildren.
According to a magazine, this American boxing promoter was arrested over 35 times on charges that ranged from running red light districts to manslaughter.