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My Las Vegas/part 4

The following article was posted by Jim on the The Chip Board on January 25th, 2019


I have been meaning to write this article for a number of years. If you are a boxing fan it might be important to you. If not, it is something I should have written about a long time ago. It is boxing history and the story needs to be told.

My Las Vegas – Part 4 (Don King)

It never ceases to amaze me. One goes to bed at the age of 16 and wakes up being 74. I guess it happens to everyone but some of us want to accomplish more before we are unable to do so and I guess that is why I am going to write this tale now before all the participants are infirmed or dead; specifically Don King and me. This story is not an attempt to turn King into some sort of saint. He is far from that. However, it is important to allow true facts, observed by me, over a period of five years or so to be known.

If we are going to hold individuals in contempt lets at least do it for the correct and true reasons. This is a major problem in today’s society. Differentiating between what is a true fact and untrue smear tactics with lies. It is so easy to tell lies about an individual, until the truth gets lost in the “fake news”.

In 2000 I was rehired by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as an income tax instructor in the category of “rehired annuitant”. I kept my old grade and pay status but really did not have any other benefits. Anyway, I started my teaching experience in Dallas, Texas. One evening in the lounge of the hotel most of us were staying, I was enjoying a tremendous hamburger with grilled onions. A couple of IRS instructors from Wisconsin and Michigan joined instructor John Rawley, who was from California and me at our table.

For some reason the conversation turned to boxing. The two mid-western fellows knew I had worked the boxing in Las Vegas and wanted to know and inquired as to how it was like working with a crook like Don King. I almost dropped the delicious burger I was eating. I thought for a moment maybe these two geniuses knew something that I didn’t know.I asked, “How do you know he is a crook”? Well he just is. Everyone knows that. Numerous fighters have been interviewed on TV and claim he cheated and stole money from them. Also he killed a man when he was younger. Also, he pays off those judges so his fighter always wins.

I inquired again, “Do you have any proof that King is a crook?” If you do please let me know what it is. I obviously care because it may reflect upon me and the job I did for IRS during those years.

The evidence is self-evident. Too many fighters have said the same thing. King is bad news! I hope you are not going to defend him to us.

If either one of you or both wish to listen to the facts I will explain much of what you see and hear is simply not true. Let’s start with the claims from fighters that he cheated them and stole their money.

The amount paid to a fighter is set by the contract that is negotiated and signed by the interested parties. The contract goes to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and a copy was given to me for verification purposes. Generally, the fighter pays his manager 1/3rd, his cut man 10% both of which comes out of the purse when the bell rings. There were also other less common arrangements where a manager was paid 50% but covered ALL expenses. However, this type of arrangement was not that popular.

Don King or any promoter has no liability until the bell rings officially starting the fight. Now let’s assume the remaining amount to be paid to the fighter after taxes is $800,000.

Now here is where the problem starts. Every fighter who waits fight day is staying at the hotel/casino hosting the fight. Generally, they are surrounded by an entourage everywhere they go within the casino. They take funds from the cage in the form of chips, cash draws and checks. They take markers at the gaming tables and often lose the entire marker. They give chips and money to their entourage. Since the fight is sometimes 30 days away it doesn’t take long before the entire $800,000 is spent.

Now after the fight, all parties get paid including the casino cage. Often, the fighter doesn’t get a nickel. The first statement out of his mouth to anyone who will listen is Don King cheated me. I fought and have no money. King took it all. No one is interested in the facts or the truth because facts and truth do not make a good story. The news media would rather broadcast the fighter claiming he was cheated by King.

Let me continue along the same vain. A heavyweight championship fight was being held at the Riviera. Apparently the challenger had exhausted his draws from the cage the night before the fight. He was now claiming he would not fight unless King gave him more money. At two in the morning my home phone rings. It is Don asking to speak to the bounty hunter. Rena wakes me up. Don what’s up? The challenger will not fight tomorrow unless I give him his tax money back. Please come down to my office we are all in the conference room. I took a shower, got dressed and was at the Riv by 3:00am.

The multimillion dollar fight was hanging by a thread. I asked the challenger why it was so important to get the tax money back. He said that he promised to buy his mother a house and without the tax money he couldn’t do it since he already had spent his entire purse. I asked how much did he need for the house? He said $125,000. I asked Don in front of the fighter and everyone present if he fights will you buy his mother a house. Don said of course. Don told me he didn’t know this is what the fighter wanted. If he did, he would have told him earlier that he would purchase the house for his mother. King did not want to lose millions over $125,000. The fight took place and Don kept his word. However, it didn’t stop the fighter from telling everyone after the fight that Don cheated him.

Now another interesting fact about fixing fights and paying off judges every contract Don entered into would have a three fight option for both fighters. In other words, it did not matter which fighter won because Don King Enterprises controlled the fight options for both fighters. There was no incentive to fix a fight or pay off anyone since the winner of the fight would have to fight for Don King Enterprises three additional times. It was Don’s way of protecting his investment as well as eliminating any future questions. However, it did not stop the accusers of claiming he fixed fights and controlled outcomes. If one looks objectively at the facts there is no percentage for King in “fixing” anything.

The training camp run by Carl King, Don’s son was available to every fighter in Kings Stable of fighters. The fighter could use this training facility for a fee or not. The fee was usually preset and agreed upon by all individuals prior to using the facility. I can remember King getting lambasted in the media for over charging the fighters. The sports writers did not have a clue of what was offered within the training camp but somehow knew Carl was overcharging the fighters.

Now it is true Don King, as a very young man, killed an individual who was a numbers runner for him. The dispute got out of hand and King used excessive force. Only Don King knows whether he meant to terminate this man’s existence. He claimed he didn’t. The law found otherwise. Later in the course of his life the Governor of Ohio James Rhodes pardoned King for the manslaughter charge.

While in prison, King claimed he awoke from sleep and found that his hair had risen to heaven and obviously this was a sign from above. I don’t know if it was a sign from above or static electricity. However, the story ALWAYS made good conversation.

I can let whoever reads this article know I never personally saw or had knowledge of any dishonest transaction or act by Don King or Don King Enterprises in the five or so years I covered the boxing business. Since the fighters were the most important part of any transaction it would seem foolish to me for King to risk a very lucrative business when he was making huge profits from television rights to “cheat” a fighter. Yet, somehow this fact escaped the sports writers who just did not like Don King. Sound familiar with today’s politics and politicians???

I will leave you with Don’s favorite statement: “People are my greatest asset”. I had a tremendous amount of fun monitoring the greatest period of heavyweights ever. A period that is gone forever and will probably never be repeated.