5 Fighters Ruined by Don King

There's an old saying in Boxing that goes, "If Cocaine didn't ruin you in the 80s then Don King did."....although not technically true for everybody, You can't really blame King for buying the Porsche that the great Salvador Sanchez died in, even though it's pretty damn spooky. Here's a list of Don King's Grimiest Moments, which include shooting a man in the back. But as far as ruining boxers go here are five fighters that can thank the hustler from Cleveland a lot for, including winning world championships and ruining their lives...

Saoul Mamby


Saoul Mamby was an artful 10-stone stylist who hailed from the notorious Bronx in New York.. A black Jew, Mamby had a light-coppery complexion and delicate, almost pretty features, that he protected well with a deft left hand and a nimble pair of legs. Mamby personified the 'sweet science' but it took him 8 long years to get a championship fight. He was too good for his own good, and clever boxers don't sell tickets. In October 77, Mamby finally got his title shot, but had little hope of getting the decision of local hero, Saensak Muangsorin in Thailand. The polite softly spoken globetrotter never got the protection he needed because he always had to fight in the other guy's backyard. He was so good he could still win on the road without a knockout punch, but despite appearances in exotic locales like Curacao, San Juan, Kingston and Paris, his passport was getting a lot more action than his bank book.

Then one day, Don King called.

King got Mamby a fight in Feb '80, against Kim-Sang Hyun in Seoul, South Korea, for the WBC super lightweight championship. However, there was a catch - he was forced to take on Carl King, Don's stepson as his manager. Carl didn't even bother making the trip to Seoul to see Mamby win...

Not only was Carl in for at least a third of his purse (some reports claim half!), Don also took a fifth. Mamby made 4 defenses of the WBC crown, all of which were promoted by King. He won on the road against Maurice 'Termite' Watkins in Houston and Obisia Nwankpa in Nigeria, but claims, like so many others, he didn't get anywhere near what the contract called for. According to Mamby, a gentleman outside the ring, Carl or Don actually managed 3 of his opponents. Where the hell was Sulaiman and his rulebook? On July 1980, Mamby scored his greatest win, halting Esteban DeJesus. 

Mamby then discovered that DeJesus was officially managed by Connie Harper, Don King's girlfriend, who later went to prison after she and Don were indicted on 23 counts of income-tax evasion. When Mamby defeated Thomas Americo in Jakarta, Indonesia he was supposed to get $350,000 for the fight. He got $135,000 instead...He signed for $300,000 to face Nwankpa, but got just $118,000...After all these tough matches, he finally lost to 'Irish' Leroy Haley in June 82 in Vegas. After the split-decision was announced, Carl King began to jump up and down in jubilation. Mamby suddenly realized that Carl managed Haley too. Despite all this happening in a State-controlled sport, Nevada did nothing about King's outrageous conflict of interest which should have cost him his promoters license. And neither did Sulaiman, the self styled 'Humble Servant of Boxing'.

By 1992, 'Sweet' Saoul Mamby was 45 and fighting from memory. He should have been set for life years earlier, but was heavily in debt to the IRS and not only had to risk his life every time he stepped into the ring, the former world champion had one of the most dangerous day jobs in the world: he drove a cab on New York's violent streets.

Fifteen years later, at 60 years of age, he was still trying to get fights!

Peter Mcneely

Peter McNeely was signed to King in July '94, when King was searching for an opponent for the Mike Tyson's comeback. He then miraculously vaulted into the WBC ratings. This was inspite of amassing a collection of ambulatory punchbags who between them had lost 301 times in 424 fights with 152 stoppages. McNeeley had to be one of the worst fighters ever to compile a record like this. Despite media protest, including a damning report from his then #2, Eric Armit, Sulaiman justified his decision, by saying, "Well, Joe Louis had his 'Bum of the Month club' didn't he." As for Armit, his days at the WBC were numbered. Nobody on the ratings committee would take his calls, and he ended up resigning about a year later. But poor old Peter thought he could fight. He was brave alright and charged straight at Tyson as soon as the bell sounded...

From the $750,000 he was supposed to get, he received only $200,000. McNeely's life then spiraled out of control. He became a national laughing stock, with tough guys taking swings at him in bars, and experienced years of drug and alcohol problems as well as several run in's with the law. Now recovering with daily trips to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, McNeeley recently told the Boston Herald, "I find standing up and admitting i'm powerless actually gives me the strength to carry on. So does letting go of my resentments."

Tim Witherspoon

Witherspoon sued King and got a settlement. As a result for years after, Tim was banned from the ratings and not allowed anywhere near a title. His blacklist included the entire Tyson era. In August, 1982 King pressured the promising young HW, 'Terrible' Tim Witherspoon into signing a slave-like agreement whereby Carl King, Don's flunky stepson, would act as his manager. As usual, King dispensed plenty of fatherly advice as he put his arm around Tim, but once they met at Kings plush 69th street office, the real Don King emerged: the jive-talking street hustler whipped out 4 different contracts for the bedazzled fighter to sign. One was an exclusive contract with Don King Promotions; a second was an exclusive managerial contract with Carl King which entitled the stepson to a third of Tim's purses. The third contract however, instructed, that should 'difficult circumstances' arise, Carl could take up to half. This, despite the fact 50/50 deals were illegal in Vegas and Atlantic City. A fourth contract that Tim was ordered to sign, was left blank.

On May 0, '83, Witherspoon got a shot at champ Larry Holmes. Tim put up a great show, losing a SD that many thought was a robbery. To add insult to injury, he had to wait 4 months for his money, a pathetic $53,000! 

Scott Frank, a pudgy white clubfighter who was controlled by the Duva's had got $350,000 for getting destroyed by Holmes. By now, Holmes himself, was starting to rebel against King, and broke away from him claiming he had certain rights under the United States Constitution. However, was sadly mistaken. In November 83, Holmes almost decapitated Marvis Frazier in the 1st round of a mis-match, but the WBC refused to recognize the fight, and Sulaiman threatened to strip Larry of the title unless he went back to King. Holmes replied angrily, telling Sulaiman to fuck off, and that he was through with being Don King's whore. After 15 defenses (only 2nd to Louis) Holmes had been robbed of his title. King and his stooge, Sulaiman, then quickly fixed up a match between Witherspoon and Greg Page, with the winner being declared as champion. King conveniently controlled both fighters, and after a dreary affair Witherspoon got the win and became WBC champion....

He was promised $250,000 purse money, but after ex's, received just $41,498. Karl King trousered $125,000. Witherspoon was now starting to become angry at the way he was being treated and demanded $350,000 in his hand, when King pitched him against Pinklon Thomas in his 1st defense. So, King brought the 'special circumstances' contract into play, which meant Carl King would be getting half of it. With Don as his promoter and Carl as his manager, they had Tim by the balls, and he became depressed, stopped training, started smoking dope and inevitably dropped the decision to Thomas who was in much better shape on the night. Witherspoon then drifted away for a bit, while the King's played around with other bodies: namely: Dokes, Tubbs, Berbick and Page....

In January, '86 Witherspoon was recycled again. Broke but determined, he
decisioned an out of shape Tubbs and won the WBA version of the crown. Away from Sulaiman, but no escape from King. Hard puncher, Frank Bruno was next up, and in front of 55,000 fanatical British supporters at Wembley Stadium, North London. HBO paid $1.7 million for the American TV Rights. Bruno's promoter, Micky Duff claimed 1 million had been set aside for Witherspoon's purse, and after the King's had taken their share, Tim was to receive $550,000. The fight itself was a brutal affair, Spoon had underestimated Bruno's power and was taking a beating when out of desperation, he suddenly exploded with 4 looping overhand rights, to end matters in the 11th. Although victorious, he was badly hurt and had to be helped back to his hotel room. In a rare moment of compassion, King promised him a bonus, but weeks later Tim's $550,000 turned out to be a paltry $90,000!

Mickey Duff then went on record to say, that the King's had coined in at least $2 million, with Carl's share being $250,000 & Don coining the rest. Bruno, who he defeated received in excess of 6 times the amount cleared by Tim. Witherspoon became incensed, and wasted large amounts of his small salary trying to find a way out of his contracts with the Kings, but they had him stitched up in every which way possible. Furthermore, King played the Joker, and pulled out a re-match clause from the Tubbs fight, but to everyone's surprise, Tubbs gave it the finger, when he found out he was only getting a pitiful $25,000. So, then King pulls the Ace, and the 'in-form' Bonecrusher Smith, another Carl King fighter, is immediately brought up to the plate as an eleventh hour replacement. Smith had also KO'd Bruno, and was the 'Mac Foster' of his time. Witherspoon had trained reluctantly for a shot Tubbs, and showed up, looking like he'd just had a joint (infact, i think he had, lol). The bell sounded for the 1st and Smith sensed Tim wasn't right and trounced all over him, knocking him down 3 times and leaving him sprawled & helpless.

After the fight, Witherspoon said, "I'm glad i lost, maybe i can get my career straightened out, and a manager who can help me." Tim was now done with the Kings, and was guaranteed $300,000 pay off minus ex's of course, but once again, he ended up with just $99,000. Carl King got $128,000, 30,000 of which he was supposed to give to Slim Robinson (Spoons trainer) but stiffed him for the lot, so Tim paid Robinson out of his share which left him with just $69,000. Though the contract had also provided for $100,000 training ex's, King insisted he train instead, at his lavish Ohio farm at an extra $1000 a day. Then the IRS sent him a tax bill for $66,000, leaving Tim a measly $3000 
from a guaranteed $300,000.

He immediately filed a lawsuit against King, and after TEN long years of wriggling through the courts, King was finally ordered to pay Tim damages totaling $1 million, most of which was used to pay off the debts getting there. Worst of all, Terrible Tim never fulfilled his potential as a fighter, and could have been really special. Another potential ATG, ruined by King, and who had to fight way into his forties, just to survive...

"Don hurt me real bad, he made me sign blank contracts & use his son as manager. He warned me never to talk to a lawyer. He never gave me copies of anything I signed. I had no rights, i had nobody i could appeal my case to. Don messed me up real bad. Let me tell you, I hate that motherfucker."

Gerald McClellan

In 1995, Sulaiman & King finalized negotiations for WBC middleweight champion, Gerald McClellan to defend against ex-champ, Nigel Benn a fearsome puncher himself, in England. McClellan had been brainwashed into believing that Benn was shot, and it would be an easy nights work. This indeed, appeared the case as McClellan set about him early and knocked him through the ropes and onto the judges table mid-way through the 1st. However, Benn survived and came back to batter McClellan senseless in the 11th round, but tragedy occurred, and McClellan suffered severe injuries as a result. He ended up blind, brain-damaged and lost most of his hearing after the brutal encounter. Emanuel Steward once called McClellan, 'The best fighter i've ever trained,' but he is now trapped in a solitary world where there are no more cheers. He just sits and cries."

WBC conventions are held all over the world, at four-star hotels with first-class air travel and credit cards for Sulaiman's closest flunkies. There are also attorneys, PR men and a long list of vice-presidents and lifetime board members, but there was no compensation for Gerald McClellan. Personal pleas made by Randy Gordon, the then chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, were ignored by Sulaiman.

Mike Tyson

Don King ruined him. After Cus and Jimmy Jacobs died and Kevin Rooney was removed as head trainer he went down hill very quickly. During the Douglas fight, his corner was using a condom on his eye, instead of an enswell! Don king used the race card to trick Tyson into believing that whitey was the devil and that only his brothers could really watch his back. King exposed Tyson to people who took advantage of him and his money, this eventually turned the legend into nothing and landed him in prison. Tyson would fight on but was never the same as he was before that night in Tokyo. He's managed to become beloved by the people after a long hard tragic stint in the public eye.

Compiled from the Boxing Scene Forums.

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