America is full of people who were headed down the wrong path in life, only to change direction and become a success. Don King is such a man. In the late-1960s, the former small-time numbers runner had been sentenced to four years in prison for manslaughter. During his days behind bars he decided to turn his life around. He became a vociferous reader; absorbing the words and wisdom of the world's great minds. Shortly after his release, he ventured into the world of boxing promotion, which at the time had no major black promoters. Within four years, he had staged some of the most memorable championship bouts in history including: Ali-Foreman and Ali-Frazier III, and became the sport's most powerful promoter.
During his four decades in boxing the Cleveland native has set many records: highest purse, highest combined purses, largest live gate, largest pay-per view audience -- and broken them as well. He twice promoted six world title fights on one card, three times promoted more than 20 world title fights in a year, and, in 1994 he staged a record 47 world title bouts. In 1993 alone, there were 11 championship shows, four that were attended by a total of 270,000, including a record 135,000 for the card headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Greg Haugen in Mexico City.
Although King became the main promoter for Ali, Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Chavez and Mike Tyson, more than 90 fighters have earned $1 million under the banner of Don King Production, Inc. He has been named "Greatest Promoter in History" by sanctioning bodies WBC, WBA and IBF).
In the four decades since his release from prison, Don King has lived the American Dream. He's not only worked hard, but outworked his competitors and reached the pinnacle of his profession.
Born: Aug. 20, 1931