A product of the hard-core Cleveland ghetto, he beat the system to become the world's greatest promoter. His shocking hairstyle, infectious smile, booming laugh and inimitable vocabulary have made Don King universally recognizable. He has been featured on the covers of Time, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Ebony, Jet, and many other magazines. He has appeared in movies, television shows and on numerous television and radio talk shows.
Don's promotions have entertained billions around the globe. His life has been devoted to staging the best in world-championship boxing as well as always giving something back to the people. Don King-promoted events have given the sports and entertainment world some of its most thrilling and memorable moments.
Inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997, King was the only boxing promoter named to Sports Illustrated's list of the "40 Most Influential Sports Figures of the Past 40 Years." The New York Times published a list that included Don King among "100 African Americans who have helped shape this country's history during the last century". King's career as a promoter spans three decades and includes more than 500 worldchampionship fights, but it began as a plea to help save a Cleveland hospital in 1972.
Facing a severe shortage of funds, Forest City Hospital was prepared to shut down. King knew the hospital served a vital function to a poor, working-class community. He sought out heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and asked him to come and support a fundraising benefit to help turn around the hospital. The two men hit it off, and a new era began in boxing.
King inked a fight between Ali and George Foreman in 1974 that promised both fighters more than $5 million each, which was unheard of at the time. When his financial backers lost faith and pulled out and everyone else turned their backs on Don, he held the fight together on his own and took it to Zaire. He proved the doubters and critics wrong by staging one of the greatest fights in history with The Rumble in the Jungle. King has gone on to set new high-water marks in the boxing promotion business. Nearly 100 individual boxers have earned $1 million, or more, under Don King Productions-promoted events. The first Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield fight shattered all previous viewing records for a boxing event, seen in more than 100 countries by more than two billion people. Holyfield-Tyson II created even more attention, attracting 1.99 million domestic households in addition to a massive global audience. The live gate sold out in days as a crowd of 16,279 paid a record $14.2 million to see the fight in person.
Don made a commitment to provide quality fight cards, and in 1993 he staged a fight in Mexico headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez that featured four world championship bouts on one night. The public responded as 136,274 fans flocked to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, and established a paid live-gate record of more than 132,000 that is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Twice, he has promoted fight cards with six world-title fights. In 1994 he staged a record 47 world-championship bouts. In 1981 King was the first promoter in history to guarantee $1 million paydays to non-heavyweights when featherweights Salvador Sanchez and Wilfredo Gomez clashed. That same year he became the first promoter to guarantee one fighter (Sugar Ray Leonard) a $10 million purse in the first Leonard vs. Roberto Duran fight. For every successful boxing event Don promotes, he makes it a personal rule to give back far more than he ever receives. He established the Don King Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes and organizations. As a reminder of the economic hardship he endured growing up, King has gone into neighborhoods every holiday season and personally handed out turkeys to needy families. Don's Turkey Tour has given away hundreds of thousands of turkey dinners over the years in cities across the country during the holiday season.
King is a longtime supporter of the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, National Hispanic Scholarship Fund, National Coalition of Title 1/Chapter 1 Parents, Wheelchair Charities, Our Children's Foundation among other organizations, charities, colleges and hospitals.
Don has been bestowed with many honors, including the Black Achievement Award and being named Man of the Year by the Black United Fund and Brotherhood Crusade. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's women's membership in 1987. Cities including Newark, N.J., have declared Don King Day and presented him with official proclamations for behindthe- scenes contributions he's made towards community projects.
The NAACP recognized Don with its highest honor, the President's Award, and he received Lifetime Achievement accolades from Grambling State University. Shaw University, the oldest black college in the South, bestowed Don with an honorary doctorate degree and named him to its prestigious Board of Trustees. He also recently received the prestigious Legacy Award for Outstanding Community Service from Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY. All three major boxing organizations, the IBF, WBA and WBC, have proclaimed Don King the Greatest Promoter in History. He got together with Felix Trinidad Sr. and Felix Tito Trinidad to donate a much needed Fire Truck to Ladder Company 30 in New York's Harlem. Together with many celebrity friends, Don helped raise enough money to pay off the $5,000,000.00 mortgage at Ms. Dorothy Height's building in Washington, D.C.
On Dec. 13, 2003, he promoted a sold-out event in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. featuring a record-breaking eight world championship fights, breaking his own record of six world championship bouts on one card.
Don is always supportive of Armed Forces in the U.S. and around the globe. He has visited various military bases and has pledged to help them with their projects. At age 78, King has no plans to slow down.
Don King Facts
|Birthday||December 6, 1932 (90)|
|Birthplace||Cleveland, Ohio, USA|
|Height||6' 2" (1m88) How tall is Don King compared to you?|
|The Day After Tomorrow|
|C.C. & Company|
|Bring It On: All or Nothing|
|Can't Stop The Music|