Thursday, January 27, 2011


Don King

Don King in 2007
BornAugust 20, 1931 (age 79)
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
OccupationBoxing promoter
Donald "Don" King (born August 20, 1931) is an American boxing promoter particularly known for his hairstyle and flamboyant personality. His career highlights include promoting "The Rumble in the Jungle" and the "Thrilla in Manila", as well as orchestrating the ascent of Mike Tyson. King has promoted some of the most prominent names in boxing, including Muhammad AliMike TysonGeorge ForemanEvander HolyfieldLarry HolmesJulio César ChávezAndrew GolotaFélix TrinidadRoy Jones Jr. and Marco Antonio Barrera.

[edit]Early life

Don King was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After dropping out of Kent State University, he ran an illegal bookmaking operation, and was charged for killing two men in separate incidents 13 years apart. The first was determined to be justifiable homicide after it was found that King shot Hillary Brown in the back and killed him while he was attempting to rob one of King's gambling houses.[1] King was convicted of second degree murder for the second killing in 1966 after he was found guilty of stomping to death an employee, Sam Garrett, who owed him $600.[1]In an ex parte meeting with King's attorney, the judge reduced King's conviction to nonnegligent manslaughter for which King served just under four years in prison.[2]


King entered the boxing world after convincing Muhammad Ali to box in a charity exhibition for a local hospital in Cleveland with the help of singer Lloyd Price. Early on he formed a partnership with a local promoter named Don Elbaum, who already had a stable of fighters in Cleveland and years of experience in boxing.
In 1974, King negotiated to promote a heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire, popularly known as "The Rumble in the Jungle".[3] The fight between Ali and Foreman was a much-anticipated event. King's rivals all sought to promote the bout, but King was able to secure the then-record $10 million purse through an arrangement with the Zaire government.
King solidified his position as one of boxing's preeminent promoters the following year with the third fight between Ali and Joe Frazier inManila,[4] the capital of the Philippines, which King deemed the "Thrilla In Manila".[3] Aside from promoting the premier heavyweight fights of the 1970s, King was also busy expanding his boxing empire. Throughout the decade, he compiled an impressive roster of fighters, many of whom would finish their career with Hall of Fame credentials. Fighters like Larry HolmesWilfred BenítezRoberto DuránSalvador Sánchez,Wilfredo Gómez, and Alexis Argüello would all fight under the Don King Productions promotional banner in the 1970s.
For the next two decades, King continued to be among boxing's most successful promoters. Mike TysonEvander HolyfieldJulio César ChávezAaron PryorBernard HopkinsRicardo LopezFélix TrinidadTerry NorrisCarlos ZarateAzumah NelsonAndrzej GołotaMike McCallumGerald McClellanMeldrick TaylorMarco Antonio Barrera and Ricardo Mayorga are some of the boxers who chose King to promote many of their biggest fights.[5]
Outside of boxing, he also managed the Jacksons' 1984 Victory Tour.[6]
King was elected to the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2008.[7]


Don King has been investigated for possible connections with organized crime. During a 1992 Senate investigation, King pleaded the Fifth Amendment when questioned about his connection to mobster John Gotti. In public, however, he has responded to mob allegations by calling them racist.
Mike Tyson, the former undisputed World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, says of his former manager, "(King is) a wretched, slimy, reptilian motherfucker. This is supposed to be my 'black brother' right? He's just a bad man, a real bad man. He would kill his own mother for a dollar. He's ruthless, he's deplorable, he's greedy, and he doesn't know how to love anybody."[8]

[edit]Lawsuits and fraud prosecutions filed against King

In 1954 King killed a man who wanted to rob one of his offices. The sentence was not guilty due to self-defence.
In 1967 he was sent to prison for life for murder. King killed an employee who owed him US$ 600. King did not stop striking the man when the police arrived. The victim died five days later in a hospital. Later the punishment was reduced to manslaughter which resulted in 15 years of prison. After only three years and eleven months King was released from Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio on parole in 1971.
King has been involved in several litigation cases with boxers that were focused on fraud. They include a 1980 trial in which Muhammad Alisued King for underpaying him $1.2 million for a fight with Larry Holmes. Ali settled for $50,000. Tim Witherspoon sued King and won $900,000. Mike Tyson sued King for $100 million, alleging the boxing promoter cheated him out of millions over more than a decade.[9] It was settled out of court for $14 million.[10]
In May 2005, King was sued by Lennox Lewis, who wanted $385 million from the promoter, claiming King used threats to pull Tyson away from a rematch with Lewis. Terry Norris settled a lawsuit out of court against Don King for breach of contract for $7.5 million. In early 2006,Chris Byrd sued Don King for breach of contract and the two eventually settled out of court under the condition that Byrd would be released from his contract with King.[11]

[edit]Personal life

Don King's wife Henrietta passed away on December 2, 2010 at the age of 87. He has a daughter Debbie, and sons, Carl and Eric. King is also said to be close to his niece, Jean King-Battle. He has five grandchildren. King is politically active and made media appearances promoting George W. Bush during the 2004 U.S. presidential election, which included attendance at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.

[edit]Popular culture

King has become a prominent figure in American media. King is well known for his hairstyle. In a 1993 interview with Jet magazine, King said that he uses Aqua Net hair spray and a comb to style his coif every day. He is also one of few people to have turned down the chance to be portrayed on The Simpsons.


King frequently appears on talk shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Howard Stern Show to promote fights. He has been portrayed by Dave Chappelle in a skit about a "Gay America", promoting a boxing match between two homosexual boxers. In 1995, HBO aired Tyson, a television movie based upon the life of Mike Tyson. King was portrayed by actor Paul Winfield. In 1997, actor Ving Rhames played King in a made for TV movieDon King: Only in America which aired on HBO.[12] Rhames won a Golden Globe award for his portrayal of King.[13] In a 1998 episode of South Park, titled "Damien", Jesus and Satan are to have a boxing match to decide the conflict between good and evil, and Don King represents Satan.
In its first season, In Living Color featured a one-time sketch entitled "King: The Early Years", set in a schoolyard in 1939, in which the narrator led viewers to believe that Martin Luther King, Jr. got his start in childhood as a peacemaker between two fighting classmates—until "King" was revealed as a young Don King (portrayed by Damon Wayans), who promoted the schoolyard scuffle.
In the episode "My Brother's Keeper" of The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirCarlton is portrayed as Don King in one of Will's dreams. On an episode of Boy Meets World, Cory is having really bad hair problems, and his hair is similar to Don King's. One kid even made fun of Cory by saying, "Hey look, it's Don King." In Celebrity Deathmatch, Don King Kongs's death was a running gag during the series' first season. In the final episode of the second season, he was matched against Donald Trump, with King being killed again, this time in the ring.[14]
In New Zealand a popular Sunday morning kids program What Now was known for its Don King skit. The actor (Jason Fa'afoi) would appear in front of a grey screen dressed as Don King and begin every skit with "Hi I'm Donk Ing...and you're not" before advertising some useless product.

In the episode Knock It Off of Pucca series, Don King was parodied by the character Muji. The villain was watching a fight between Garu and Abyo in a boxing ring and he had Don King's hair.
Wayne Brady frequently impersonated King on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Twice in a game called "Hats" (spread 6 years apart) where Brady wore wigs similar to King's hair and once in a game of "Weird Newscasters" where Brady had to be a Sportscaster as King.
On The Suite Life On DeckMr. Moseby presents a sumo wrestling match in a tuxedo and a wig with King's hairstyle.


In the feature film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the Daimyo emerges from a bell struck by a cannonball with his hair sticking straight up. Donatello says, "Hey, look — Don King!" The character of flashy boxing promoter George Washington Duke, played by Richard Gant in the film Rocky V, is based on King and uses his famous catchphrase, "Only in America!" King acted in a small role as more or less himself in 1982's The Last Fight and in the 1985 comedy Head Office. He also had another brief cameo as himself in the 1997 movie The Devil's AdvocateJames Earl Jones portrayed a flamboyant boxing promoter in the 1984 made-for-television movie The Las Vegas Strip War, named Jack Madrid, whose character was clearly inspired by Don King. In the movie, Scary Movie 4, a man similar to Don King falls on the son of the antagonist. In The Great White HypeSamuel L. Jackson's character The Reverend is a reflection of Don King, demonstrating the level of despair induced by Don King's control over both boxers and the sport itself.
Don King makes an appearance in the 2008 documentary, Beyond the Ropes.[15]

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As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.

"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.

Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.

He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.

Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."

Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.

Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


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