ONLY IN AMERICA: The Life and Crimes of Don King by Jack Newfield

ONLY IN AMERICA: The Life and Crimes of Don King

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A two-fisted, no-punches-pulled expose‚ of boxing promoter Don King. What do you call a boxing promoter/manager who skims purses, bills back for expenses contracted to him, and plunges the already ill-reputed sport to new depths of corruption? Well, if you're black and fight in boxing's premier heavyweight division, chances are you'd call him ""boss."" Here, New York Post columnist and latter-day muckraker Newfield (The Education of Jack Newfield, 1984, etc.) offers the sensational details in an even-tempered profile of King, the outlandish ex-numbers game man (and convicted killer) from Cleveland who by dint of what he identifies as ""wit, grit, and bullshit""--plus reputedly strong ties to organized crime--rose practically overnight to corner the heavyweight division. Controversy has surrounded King over the past quarter century. He has managed to bilk fighters Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and a whole ""Lost Generation"" of contenders in the mid-'80s, other promoters, and even the governments of Zaire and the Philippines, usually while paying lip service to the causes of black unity and empowerment. As recent indictments would show, the only people King has empowered are stepson Carl, who draws hefty payments for ""managing"" his pop's fighters, and other family members, including daughter Debby, who drew $1,000 a week to run the Mike Tyson Fan Club--mostly by throwing away the former champ's fan mail. When actually confronted by the author (whose 1991 PBS documentary on King won an Emmy Award), King issued a torrent of slurs, accusations, and intimidation. As many in the fight game will attest, King is a master at the subtle art of the veiled threat--and his threats are not to be taken lightly. Newfield's King is not the lovable and eminently quotable Runyonesque scoundrel other reporters occasionally offer. What emerges from this study is a solid, factual, and uncommonly entertaining profile of boxing's reigning scumbucket.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1995
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Morrow