Your dad can beat up my dad — that’s totally subjective. Your mom can cook better than my mom — I doubt it. Your girlfriend looks better than my girlfriend — eh, opinions are like as*holes, everyone has one. Don King has better stories to tell than both of our grandpas — this is not even debatable.
The legendary promoter is hyping up this weekend’s fight between Bernard Hopkins and Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center Saturday (March 9). The fight will air live on HBO beginning at 9:30pm ET/PT. I chopped it up with Mr. King and he discussed his favorite moment in the ring, the easiest fighter to work with and the new projects he has lined up.
VIBE: What led you to get involved promoting the fight between Tavoris Cloud and Hopkins?
DON KING: It's going to be a major event. It’s a tell-tale for Tavoris. Hopkins is a giant, and he’s been in business for 27 years. He’s a tremendous fighter and I love the man. When Tavoris beats him, that will be a hallmark for better things to happen to Tavoris after his victory.
What's your favorite boxing moment?
People are my most important asset. The magic lies in people’s ties. I do this for the people. The Royal Rumble in the Jungle brought the sport a lot visibility because historically we were fighting segregation, bigotry, biases, and blacks in general were invisible. Muhammad Ali took a great stance at the height of his career. This man lost four years in the prime of his career. He took a risk and put himself out there. He put people above money. That fight also allowed me to introduce myself as a businessman. I was able to be taken seriously in boardrooms with some of the most intellectual people from the Harvards, Yales, and Oxfords of the world.
Who's been the easiest fighter to work with?
I have to go back again to Muhammad Ali and also include Larry Holmes. They are all easy to work with though. I just make sure I understand a fighter’s background and put myself in their shoes. I can almost deal with any of them. You just have to borrow another man’s eyeballs and see the world through their eyes. It allows you to be sympathetic and empathetic with them and understand the plight that relates to them.
Who's been the most difficult to work with?
All of them are easy to work with if you can relate to them.
Name a fighter you haven't work with that you'd like to have worked with?
I don’t know. I can’t answer that. I like any fighter. Any man that walks up those three steps has some courage in him. It shows that there’s a manhood about him. When you’re in that ring, you can’t call timeout. You can’t run out of gas. You have to deal with the problem forthright. It takes honor, courage and “stick-tuitiveness” to stay in that ring. Any man that has what it takes to step in that ring, I can work with them.
Talk about the difference in promoting a Pay Per View fight versus an HBO or network TV fight?
It’s all the same. PPV has more awareness built in for the public. PPV is for major fighters that are well known so the demand is greater. It's the same to promote the event whether it’s HBO or PPV. It can be for 10 cents or $10 million dollars I’m working the fight the same. I promote the fighters and the people. I work for the people to know who the fighter is so they can fall in love with him. Through their support they build up the ratings and awareness of the fight. It’s the people that help the fighter become the people’s champion.
You're 81. Where the hell are you getting all of this energy from?
I’m a child of God. Everything that’s happened to me has been because of God. I didn’t think I’d make it past 50, but He has more work to do with me. Everyone has a different story for the glory. You’ve got to be a thinker outside of the box. Believe in yourself and work extra hard to be what you want to be in life.
Is retirement even an option for you?
Until the good Lord decides to call me, I’ve got more work to do. I’m going to write a memoir and film a documentary. Everyone has told a variation of my story but me. I want to tell it correctly. But I want to talk about Tavoris Cloud, the Thunder Man. He’s going to bring the lightning with him. When he defeats Bernard Hopkins on March 9, it’s going to be a crowning achievement for him.
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