1 minute read

Don King

The Promoter

On September 30, 1971, Don King emerged from prison considerably wiser and wealthier and with more faithful friends than the typical ex-con. One friend in particular would set him on the path to fame and fortune. Lloyd Price was a very successful singer-songwriter who had been performing benefits and concerts at a tavern owned by Don King since 1959. The two had become fast friends, and the day after King's parole, Price flew to Cleveland to offer his support and advice. It took a little while, but in June of 1972, Don King came up with an idea that would require Lloyd Price's assistance.

A local black hospital had fallen on hard times, and King came up with the idea of holding a charitable event to rescue it. The centerpiece would be a couple of exhibition matches with Price's good friend Muhammad Ali—that is, if Ali could be persuaded to do the event for a man who had never promoted a boxing match in his life. Price made the necessary introductions, and King's unstoppable flow of words did the rest. Ali agreed to participate, and the match was a success, although there is some question as to how much money the hospital ultimately received.

Don King had found his calling—and very soon, the world would know it. The fledgling boxing promoter convinced Ali and his Nation of Islam managers that they were morally obligated to do business with a black promoter. As if to cinch the deal, about this time King claimed to have received a sign from God, when his natural Afro uncurled itself into the shock of hair that the world would soon recognize as his trademark. Over the years, the story would grow more elaborate, to the point where he claimed his hair could not be cut or combed, and electric shocks would fly from it when barbers got too close with shears or scissors.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBoxingDon King Biography - Early Years, A Prison Education, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, The Promoter, Rumble In The Jungle