Don King Gets No Respect

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What does it take for controversial boxing promoter Don King to catch a break? As The American Lawyer reports, a Florida judge has thrown out King's $2.5 million libel suit against sports network ESPN for its unflattering depiction of him in a 2004 documentary. According to internal ESPN emails entered into evidence, network executives pushed producers to depict the man behind "The Rumble in the Jungle" and the "Thrilla in Manilla" as a "thug" and an "evil mob-connected guy," and to add "more ominous" background music to the flick. No go, said the judge, who accepted the arguments of ESPN attorney James Quinn. As the story notes:

King could not prove that ESPN acted with malice and that statements made in the documentary were false—the two criteria a public figure must meet in order to win a libel case.

Still, says Bruce Rogow, a private attorney and First Amendment expert who has represented Donald Trump and the rap group 2 Live Crew, the internal e-mails "show a reckless disregard for the truth."

The judge also offered this zinger:

"Contemporary boxing has been described as a 'subterranean world,'" the judge wrote. "It comes as no surprise King may have associated with people who were unsavory or labeled as 'con artists.'"

Whole thing here.

I'm curious where John McCain stands on this burning issue. As Contributing Editor Greg Beato noted in his great piece on the commercial success of mixed martial arts, McCain once did his best to cripple the fledging Ultimate Fighting Championship, dubbing their matches "human cockfighting" and using his clout as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee to make it very difficult for UFC to hold their pay-per-view events. Yet when it comes to the bloody business of boxing, McCain is a self-described "fanatic" who frequently employs boxing metaphors to describe his own political career. But is there anybody associated with UFC as insane as former King star Mike Tyson? For some fascinating history of boxing's long association with violence (both inside and outside of the ring), Joyce Carol Oates' take on heavyweight champ Jack Johnson is well worth a look, as is Nick Tosches' extraordinary book The Devil and Sonny Liston.

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  1. rap group 2 Live Crew

    Ahh, the good old days, when liberals actually believed in the first amendment.

  2. Perhaps some type of “surge” would fix it?

  3. But is there anybody associated with UFC as insane as former King star Mike Tyson?

    Sadly, poor Rampage seems to be headed down this road.

  4. Dammit, galthran, you beat me to it. Just bizarre, that incident. Apparently the woman he sideswiped has miscarried. Dana will NOT be happy

  5. ” McCain once did his best to cripple the fledging Ultimate Fighting Championship, dubbing their matches “human cockfighting””

    I call on SIV comment on this!

  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapp_v._Ohio

    The Supreme Court case Mapp v. Ohio prohibits a police search without a warrant, even if Don King personally tells the police to search your house.

  7. “human cockfighting”

    I reject any negative connotation of the sport of kings.

    I rejected McCain,along with Bill Richardson, for failing the “single issue voter” test for this very statement/issue.

  8. Thirty years ago Garry Wills wrote a superb article, “The Sporting Life,” on boxing, exposing the literary cult devoted to concealing the fact that its existential heroes–Muhammad Ali first and foremost–as pathetic creatures beaten half-senseless by their “craft.” If you are one of the three “reason” readers who subscribe to the NY Review of Books, you can read it online. If you aren’t, you just have to trust me: the only smart boxers are the ones who quit.

  9. George Foreman did pretty well by not quitting.

  10. MMA is the result of good athletes not wanting to box anymore. Fifty or sixty years ago you couldn’t make millions playing football or basketball and blacks were not allowed in the major leagues. This left boxing as the only way out of poverty for a lot of great athletes. Had someone like Allen Iverson been born in 1920, he probably would have been one of the great middle weights of all time instead of a basketball star.

    Boxing takes a tremendous amount of coordination and athletic ability. MMA is just a thug sport whereby you can just go tackle the guy. You don’t need to be as good of an athlete to do MMA. It is therefore easier to put on a good MMA fight than it is a boxing match. All you need for MMA is a couple of guys roughly the same size with some rudementary skills and muscle. It takes years to master boxing.

    Boxing really is a beautiful and interesting sport, especially in person. Sadly, it is also a corrupt sport run by morons who have no interest in the long term viability of the sport. Thanks to pay per view we are now on a second generation of fans who never saw top quality boxing on TV so they never grew to appreciate. How popular would the NFL be right now if all the games had gone to absurdly expensive pay per view in about 1975? Not very popular I think.

  11. Don King? Oh, yes! It’s coming back to me now: What do you get if you combine minoxidil and Viagra?

  12. Well said, John.

    Dana White ran his mouth about Floyd Mayweather fighting Sean Sherk, but clammed right up when Kermit Cintron said he’d take up the offer.

  13. “Boxing takes a tremendous amount of coordination and athletic ability. MMA is just a thug sport whereby you can just go tackle the guy.”

    spoken like an ignorant ‘tard. dammit. no filter hier.

  14. MMA is just a thug sport whereby you can just go tackle the guy.

    Yeah, you can. But if you go and try to do that to someone like Urijah Faber or Anderson Silva you’d better be ready to get your arm broken or be put to sleep.

    Boxing is tired and boring. $45 to watch a couple of guys hug for 12 rounds is not for me.

  15. sage, I’m trying to gage the personal value I should place on your opinion. Help me out. Do you like soccer?

  16. As opposed to MMA, where you can watch a couple of guys in the missionary on the floor for three 5-minute rounds.

  17. BIGBIGSLACKER IS ACTUALLY ONLY MEDIUM AND CAN BE QUITE “FLEISSIG” AT TIMES.

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