The unscrupulous boxing promoter has amassed quite a legacy.
Don King is a legendary boxing promoter who has been known for promoting some of the most famous bouts in history such as “Rumble in the Jungle” and “The Thrilla in Manila.” King’s $200 million was built on intimidation and bully practices learned from his gangster days in Cleveland, OH. Between 1951 and 1966, King was arrested over 30 times for charges ranging from gambling to assault.
• King was arrested over 30 times for crimes ranging from gambling to assault.
• King gave 33% of Witherspoon’s purses to his stepson and 50% to himself.
• Don King charged Mike Tyson $8,000 weekly for the use of towels.
King, who had a penchant for math, worked in betting that violated US gambling laws or “numbers” operations since he was 18 years old. By the early 1960’s, King was the largest numbers dealer in Cleveland earning on average $15,000 a day. An FBI report claimed that King gave part of his profits to Alex Birns for protection by local mafia boss Tony Panzarella. It seems as though King’s life has caught up with him.
Tim Witherspoon and his coercion by King
Former WBA and WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tim Witherspoon claimed that he was forced to sign exclusive rights to Don King and his stepson Carl. Witherspoon claimed that King threatened to “blackball” or outcast him from the boxing industry if he hadn’t sign over the rights. Forced to negotiate without the presence of his lawyer, Witherspoon signed four separate “contracts of servitude.”
Under the stipulations of the contracts, King had an exclusive promotional contract and two Managerial contracts with Carl given him 33% of Witherspoon’s purses and 50% to King. The fourth and final contract was a blank page signed by Witherspoon. These draconian tactics are unruly even for an industry as traditionally shady as the boxing industry.
Witherspoon was withheld $100,000 from his fight with Larry Holmes. Carl’s attainment of Witherspoon’s purse was illegal by Nevada State laws. Witherspoon was forced to train at King’s training camp at Orwell, Ohio even though Ali offered him his training camp at Dear Lake Camp for free. Witherspoon was again slighted by $200,000 for his bout with Greg Page known to US gambling news.
King wanted Witherspoon at his training camp in order to charge him for various expenses that he could deduct from his future fight earnings. As with many of the fighters King represented, Witherspoon had fees deducted by King for training expenses, sparring partners, flight and airplane tickets for his associates. King charged Witherspoon $150 dollars a day for using his training camp.
HBO gave King $1.7 million for Witherspoon to fight British Champion Frank Bruno. Although Witherspoon’s purse was $500,000, he only received $90,000 after King made deductions. Carl King received $275,000 even after allegations where brought against him by the WBC sanctioning body. After a lawsuit for $25 million in damages in 1987, Witherspoon settled out of court for $1 million.
King’s relationship with Mike Tyson and others
Mike Tyson is one of the most celebrated heavyweight champions ever. His relationship with King started after the unfortunate death of Tyson’s trainer Cus D’Amato. Don King was involved in rough negotiations for Tyson’s future contract against Bill Cayton. King managed to get close to Tyson and played an instrumental role in Tyson’s future fights. The relationship was worthy of conspiracy websites everywhere.
King slowly changed Tyson’s entourage with his own associates. Before long, nobody from Tyson’s original camp remained. King is also accredited for introducing Tyson to Robin Givens and her mother Ruth Roper. After his divorce from Robin Givens, Tyson signed exclusivity to King. According to Tyson, King hired a tax attorney to represent Tyson in his Rape trial that led to his prison sentence.
Such outlandish behavior included charging Tyson $8,000 weekly for towels. King tried to sell Wrestlemania promo pics of Tyson for $300,000. After Tyson sued King for $100 million, the two settle out of court for $14 million. Former three-time world light middleweight champion Terry Norris filed a lawsuit against King claiming he cheated him out of millions for over a decade. The case was settled out of court for $14 million.
Former Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis filed a lawsuit against King in 2003 for accusing him of using threats to coerce Tyson out of a rematch. Lewis request $385 million which was the money he would’ve made from the possible purse. Boxer Chris Byrd filed a suit against King for breach of contract, but settled out of court in exchange for a contract release.