The indefatigable American institution that has evolved as the persona of Don King celebrated his 84th birthday on August 20, but age is not standing a chance of slowing down the greatest boxing promoter in the history of the world. King who was born in the ghetto of Cleveland in 1931 he often says; “give me my flowers and roses when I can smell them; shower me with love and affection so that I can appreciate it, but give me liberty or give me death.”
The owner of King Media Enterprise, which owns the 99-year old Call & Post Newspaper, and the owner of Don King Productions of Deerfield FL, King is doing the same thing this week he has the past four plus decades---promoting a fight. Little has changed since he rocketed to prominence on the sports scene promoting the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire.
It’s only appropriate that he will be promoting his up and coming heavyweight Trevor Bryan vs Derric Rossy in a 10 round main event on Showtime in Las Vegas on August 28. He grew up aspiring to become a lawyer and financed his college education from his revenue as a numbers runner.
King attended Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland for a year but quit to concentrate on his numbers business. His boxing career began when he persuaded Muhammad Ali to compete in a benefit exhibition to raise money for a Cleveland’s now closed Forrest City Hospital.
Ali then encouraged King to becoming a full-time promoter with the 1974 Ali-Foreman fight. He paid a then record King $5 million for them the fight. He would go on to stage seven of Ali’s greatest title bouts, including the legendary “Thrilla in Manila”—the 1975 fight between Ali and Joe Frazier that is considered the greatest fight in the history of boxing. It was viewed by more than a million people worldwide and earned Ali $6 million.
He also has promoted the Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Roberto Durán, Julio César Chávez, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Felix Trinidad. Today he is a promoter of world peace and women’s rights in addition to being one of the most famous people in the world.
Today he is a promoter of world peace and women’s rights in addition to being one of the most famous people in the world.
Praised as being crackling bright and nothing short of genius, at 84- years old he loves talking long leisurely walks in New York or where ever he might be traveling.
He’s on a first name basis with former presidents Jimmy Carter and George Walker Bush both father and son, has met with former South African President Nelson Mandela and numerous other world leaders.
However, King is most fond of his 50-year marriage with his late wife Henrietta King than he is any other life accomplishment.
Retirement is not an option, legacies will have to wait, because for Donald King there is much more history to make, records to break and hands to shake. Happy Birthday DK!