Monday, September 17, 2007

Boxing Impresario Don King: Only In America

Okay, I’ve got weird heroes. Don King, for example. I guess one of the reasons why I like Don King is because everyone was always trying to brainwash me so I’d hate the guy. The sportswriters from the most schmuck newspapers in the world would always have an unkind word to say about Don King. The only reason they could cite, as far as I could see, was that their fellow schmuck sportswriters also hated Don King. In calling such people “sportswriters”, I’m taking extreme liberties with the language. In reality, most of the sportswriter schmucks care nothing about boxing and do not have the intellectual curiosity to learn anything about it. Boxing coverage in most newspapers is about as interesting as reading the text on a box of Cheerios. Like cows accustomed to being fed and fattened, the schmuck sportswriters feed on a steady diet of what I call the “Beer Sports” (baseball, football, golf, etc.). The monotony and hum-drum of this rather thin fare is broken up by the occasional photo story about some high school tennis girl or hockey player who can be photographed in knickers.

I’ve noticed that the more insignificant and untalented the sportswriter is, the more he (or she) tended to pile on Don King. Truth to tell, it had just the opposite effect on me. I figured a guy who had so many insignificant and effete so-called sportswriters as enemies must be doing something right.

Okay, I get it that Don King is a player and that he woos fighters with an eye to making money. But how is it that different from the owner of a baseball team or team of NASCAR drivers? Don’t they all court the type of players or drivers who will make them rich? Or are we supposed to believe that there is philanthropy in the selection of football draft picks and ignominy when Don King goes after a fighter he thinks will make it big?

Anyway, I always had a soft spot for the rebel. Don King’s a rebel. He’s a guy who came up from nowhere, and he’s taken his own path to success and redemption. It’s true that boxing made Don King rich but don’t forget that Don King also made boxing rich. Don King and others like him pulled together multi-million dollar purses by seeing the opportunities presented in developing media like PPV and the cable companies. That type of effort benefited a large number of people in addition to boxers and their families. The broadcast media companies (HBO, ShowTime, etc) profited and so do the casinos, the newspapers, hotel chains, and just about everyone else who ever made money from sport.

In an age where so many celebrities are vying with each other to prostrate themselves publicly before a Hollywood film and music audience which doesn’t read books or know the difference between the butt end of a rifle and the butt end of an elephant, it’s kind of refreshing to see the legendary African-American boxing impresario enthusiastically waving the American flag, raising money for the 101st airborne, visiting the troops, visiting the death camps at Auschwitz, and following his great heart wherever it might lead him.

Y'all ought to take a look at his website.

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