The iconic Don King shown here in the sunshine state of Florida where he attended his annual Holiday Turkey Tour on Dec. 14th. David Martin Warr/Photo
Legendary boxing promoter and human rights advocate Cleveland native son Don King returned home Dec. 17 to cap a 12 city, nine state holiday turkey tour at the Call & Post Newspaper. Here King is shown distributing one of the many frozen birds to a local resident. Lewis Burell/Photo
Cleveland native and iconic legendary boxing promoter, human rights activist, Call & Post Newspaper Publisher Don King was back at home again on Monday Dec. 17th to put the final touches on his nationwide holiday turkey giveaway at the Call & Post.
The massive undertaking, which began on Dec. 13th in Florida and reached 12 cities in nine states, culminated a tradition that King began more than 60 years ago.
Sporting his customary ‘Only In America’ denim sequined jacket, a red, white and blue star spangled knit cap covering his famous spiking hair, King braced the frigid dry cold to personally hand out Butterball turkeys to scores of residents who stood in long lines for their personal meet and greet.
King was on hand in Florida to also personally distribute the turkeys, and his visit to Cleveland marked the second time in the past three years that he has hosted the event at the newspaper he owns.
We are here to help those in need,” said King. “We have been doing this for 60 years and it has always been about the people of this great country. God Bless America and Happy Holidays.”
During his Christmas turkey giveaway in West Palm Beach, King said.
"The spirit of giving is really what it's all about," King said. "Well, this is about giving back to the community. It's community unity.”
King arrived bright and early for the giveaway in West Palm Beach. After meeting with families and signing a few autographs, he joined a slew of volunteers as they bagged the frozen birds.
"I have been doing it now for 60 years. Giving people turkeys and wish them happy holidays and help those who are less fortunate, those who are needy," King asked.
Deliveries were made in West Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach and Miami. Overall 1,500 Butterball turkeys were handed out across the Sunshine State.
"This is what Christmas is and Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who gave his life for to demonstrate, seeking forgiveness, redemption, conversion and faith," King said. "I live by faith. You know what you don't see, not what you see."
In Newark, the event took place at the Paradise Baptist Church in Newark and members of the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security, New Jersey state police and local firefighters, also assisted volunteers.
King did not attend the event himself.
"We want each family to be able to sit down and when we say ‘Thank God’ for the food that we have, they really have food to feed themselves and their families,” says Bishop Jethro James.
King has organized this event for the last 19 years in Newark.
"The first time he came to Newark for us he brought 10,000 turkeys, which was overwhelming,” says Carolyn Kelly Shabazz, one of New Jersey’s first female boxing promoters.
Shabazz says that she got her start because of King and Muhammad Ali. She says that King taught her the importance of giving back to the community.
The turkey tour covered the states of New Jersey, California, Florida, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Tennessee and Virginia and the cities of Newark, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, North Miami, New York, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Nashville, Bassett VA and Cleveland Ohio.
It was here at home in Cleveland where King was born and raised that he obviously felt overwhelmed, surrounding by longtime friends and admirers from esteemed Bishop E.T. Caviness and his masonic brothers.
“It’s important to never forget the dirt road. Don’t forget from whence you come and Cleveland is it. It made it hard and a privilege to be taught here and it makes me continue to stay here. I will never leave Cleveland and Cleveland will never leave me,” King explained.