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Don King

Only In America

The world got a good sample of Don King's audacious tactical imagination and deal-making in February 1978 when he stole not a fighter but the heavyweight championship of the world.

On Februay 15, Leon Spinks upset the aging Muhammad Ali and won the title. Bob Arum promoted this fight and he had a contract giving him options on the fist three defenses by Neon Leon. This was not good for King….

Spinks revered Ali … and he promised Ali a rematch in September. King saw this honorable gesture as an opportunity to play boxing politics.

King called Jose Sulaiman, the president of the World Boxing Council (WBC), one of the comic regulating authorities, based in Mexico City, and convinced him to strip Spinks of his title for the crime of giving Ali an immediate rematch, instead of fighting the Number 1 contender, Ken Norton.

By stripping Spinks without due process or a fair hearing, Sulaiman created a second version of the heavyweight title, a great advantage to King, who had all the other contenders under contract.

Source: Newfield, Jack. Only in America, New York: Knopf, 1993, pp. 139-140.

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