Why is the GOP using Don King, a convicted
murderer, as its messenger to Black America?
Recent polls show that Blacks
may double their vote for George W. Bush over that of 2000.
But if Election Day results in
Black America match these polls, it will be because of the GOP’s message of
opportunity, self-help, and opposition to gay marriage (on the ballots in many
Not because of Don King, the
sleazy boxing promoter.
So, why are Republicans
touting King as their ambassador to Americas Blacks? It’s a slap in the
face of this important voting bloc, from whom the Republican Party is finally
getting some well-earned notice. They are not attracted to murderers and
Don King is both. And
he’s come under repeated investigation for his shenanigans in the
under-regulated world of boxing.
In 1966, King beat a man to
death on a Cleveland street. The victim’s crime? He owed money to
the GOP’s new Black American messiah. Talk about “the tax man
King lucked out. He was
convicted of second-degree murder, but, for no apparent reason, the judge
reduced the conviction from murder to manslaughter. Not only did King
serve a short term of 3 1/2 years, he got a pardon from the then Ohio governor.
King’s rap sheet is long.
* Was the subject of an FBI
probe, uncovering evidence of payoffs, possible racketeering, and King’s
"association" with mob figures like John Gotti and Michael Franzese.
When questioned during a 1992 Senate investigation about his Gotti connection,
King invoked the Fifth Amendment.
* Was indicted on tax fraud
and conspiracy in 1984. The president of his promotion company was convicted.
* Was criminally charged, in
1998, for cheating Lloyd's of London out of $350,000 in training expenses for a
scheduled Julio Cesar Chavez fight in 1991 that was canceled.
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* Was an unindicted
co-conspirator in the 2000 trial of International Boxing Federation founder
Robert W. Lee on 33 counts of bribery, conspiracy, racketeering, fraud and other
charges in a federal investigation that uncovered payoffs for ranking fighters.
* Was successfully sued by
Heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon. King never paid most of the $900,000
* Was sued by Muhammad Ali
after his 1980 fight with Larry Holmes, claiming King shortchanged his purse by
$1.2 million. He settled for $50,000.
* Tried to manipulate the
outcome of a 1990 Tokyo bout, in which Mike Tyson was upset by Buster Douglas.
* Was sued by Tyson for a $100
million, which King allegedly stole from him.
* Falsified fighters records
in a heavily promoted 1977 heavyweight boxing match on ABC
Is this a Republican record?
Yesterday, most of his victims
were minorities. Today, convicted felon King says President Bush is
“committed to reaching out to minorities.” But do minorities want Don
King reaching out to them?
Black Americans do not respect
Don King much more than they respect Trent Lott. He’s thought of as a
bozo, a con artist, and, age 70, well past his prime. Don King is not the
Republican antidote to liberal P. Diddy or the anti-Bush NAACP.
So why is he suddenly being so
well received by Republicans? And touted by the GOP everywhere from the
Wall Street Journal to the young, male-oriented “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show on
ABC’s late night schedule?
Maybe it has something to do
with GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie. The GOP’s new soulful Prince
not-so-Charming, King, treated the decidedly non-phat Gillespie to the glamorous
life, giving him an intoxicating taste of ephemeral hipness. The Wall
Street Journal reports that, in December, King took Gillespie, Gillespie’s
son, and Gillespie’s brother to a night of championship boxing in Atlantic
Through King, the Gillespie
Clan got to meet Denzel Washington, Mike Tyson, and rapper Jay-Z (all Kerry
supporters, by the way). King introduced Gillespie to the crowd in between
bouts. “He had ringside seats,” the starstruck Republican chairman
gushed. “It was fantastic.”
“We struck up a common
bond,” King said of Gillespie. Common bond? Gillespie is a wonkish
Irish American politico with a normal haircut. As King would say, “Only
The Republicans badly want to
be cool, like the Dems are with MTV’s Choose-or-Lose generation. But
stooping to Don King for the holy grail of “street cred” is doomed to
And then there’s King’s
sudden financial greasing of the RNC’s campaign skids, to the tune of over
$40,000. All perfectly timed to coincide with boxing regulations and
oversight that ex-murderer King badly wants defeated, but which are finally
gaining momentum in the U.S. Senate after years of no progress.
Luckily, not all Republicans
are so easily fooled. Senator John McCain, who wrote the legislation that
will finally stop King’s scams, calls King one of “the largest exploiters”
of “a system that cries out to be fixed. I think that these people that
are using him cannot know anything about his record.”
The choice of Don King as the
GOP’s “Soul Man” is also an insult to the many eloquent, brilliant Black
commentators in the Republican reserve.
does the government know about you?
Great minds like Ward Connerly,
the brilliant general in the war on racial preferences. Great commentators
like Thomas Sowell, the syndicated columnist. Commentators like Larry
Elder, not only a syndicated columnist, but a successful nationwide radio and TV
host. (He calls himself a libertarian, but helps the GOP significantly
with his persuasive viewpoints.)
If the GOP continues to ignore
these great Americans in favor of chintzy sideshows like Don King, the party may
blow its one chance for electoral entrée into Black America.
Black America deserves better.
And that ain’t no jive, bro.
Debbie Schlussel is a political commentator and attorney. Join her fan club or discussion group.
expressed do not necessarily reflect those of PoliticalUSA.com.