By Mauricio Sulaimán – President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán
June 13, 2023 ROUND 12: DON KING, BOXING ETERNAL PROMOTER By Mauricio Sulaimán – President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán Boxing is a unique sport. It is an industry very different from that of other sports because there are no teams or leagues with fixed calendars of games or seasons, and it is about independent boxers who are seeking to be someone in life, based on great effort, dedication, and sacrifice. Without boxers there is no sport, there is no boxing. It is the trainers who teach young boxers dedication, technique, and strategy. Then they discover their abilities and start their career with four-round fights. They all start fighting in modest bouts, club shows organized by the promoters.
Without promoters there is no boxing. They are its impetus vitality. They all start in the same way as boxers do, organizing small events, selling tickets, going around the city hanging advertisements in gyms, on the streets, looking for sponsorships and risking their money, hoping that their event will at least cover expenses to break even or earn a little money for their next show. Eventually, they manage to get a television station to broadcast their fights, and thus they move up a level. Many do not even reach that stage, yet some do, and few are promoters of championship fights, and even a select group manages to become successful businessmen in this sport.
Don King was released from prison in Cleveland and began his boxing career with the brilliantly original idea of convincing Muhammad Ali to participate in an exhibition fight that would generate funds, and thus, save a hospital in that city which had lost the financial support of the government and was going to close. The show was a tremendous innovative success, the hospital was saved, Don King redeemed himself and cleaned his name in the society and at the same time, he realized that this was big business. This is how Don first ventured into the fistic scene and like all promoters, began promoting club shows. Eventually he introduced his ideas to take the sport to another level and from the 1960s, he began what would be his life’s work: boxing promoter.
Last Friday, June 9th, Don promoted an event at Jai Alai, Miami Casino, a place that is being remodeled. In fact, it looks old and almost abandoned, nothing spectacular. Tables on the stage, seats around the ring and bleachers with old seats, makeshift dressing rooms and a 10-fight card.
Don King went back to his early days, back to the basics, going out to sell tickets and placing this feature on digital platforms for pay-per-view. He held his traditional three-hour press conference and weigh-in the flamboyant, old-fashioned way. Even at 91 years old, Don energized with a genius flair only he can muster when the cameras lit up, giving interviews to generate excitement, promoting his fight in a way that only he can! Return to Glory. Adrien Broner, former world champion, controversial and hardly a choir boy, returned to the ring after two years, as well as nine other fights with young fighters seeking the dream of one day becoming champions with the astute guidance of this legendary promoter who has created records. And what records!
Don holds the lion’s share of them: 136,000 attendees at Estadio Azteca, the historic Ali vs. Foreman in Zaire, known as Rumble in the Jungle; Ali vs. Frazier in the Philippines, the Thrilla in Manila, and the multiple cards in which he presented three, four and even five world championship fights on the same card with legendary boxers such as Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Holmes, Tyson, Leonard, Durán, Chávez, Azumah, Fenech, Chiquita, Finito, Carbajal, Norris and Jackson and more than two hundred world champions who fought for Don King.
It was just wonderful and memorable to accompany him in this event, to see his team work as in the old days, and how he himself is equal to or more popular than any world champion in history. He is quite a celebrity for eternity because of his unique style, fashion, and relentless work in this great sport. This was a spectacular weekend. Jaime Munguia courageously returned from adversity like a true warrior and in the twelfth round, he won a fight that was teetering on a proverbial knife edge, against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Mexican dug deep to knock down the Ukrainian in the final round, and thus he achieved victory by decision. The knockdown proved the decisive factor. It was a spectacular, supreme effort to win the WBC silver super middleweight championship. It proved Jaime’s championship will to win. This fight took place in California, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Fernando Beltran, aired on DAZN.
Teofimo Lopez returned to victory by defeating Josh Taylor by clear and unanimous decision, when the Scot was considered the broad favorite. Teo is back, and he is world champion once again, now at super lightweight. The fight has held at MSG theater in New York City, promoted by Top Rank.
On Friday night, Tom Loeffler’s 360 promotions featured up-and-coming rising superstar from Ireland, Callum Walsh, who won his first professional title the, US WBC championship with a fourth-round stoppage featured in the UFC Fight Pass Platform.
Floyd Mayweather entered the ring in Miami on Sunday in an exhibition vs. John Gotti III, a Floyd-style event with musical artists who would sell out stadiums on their own. There was a very unfortunate incident which turned into an ugly scene inside the ring, and in other places in the arena, which abruptly ended the event. Arena lights were turned on, and that was the end of the night. Today’s anecdote One day at home, while Don King was eating his favorite dishes and food delicacies which my mother prepared every time he visited Mexico, my father asked him: “Don … what motivates you to continue promoting, if you have all the money in the world, if you are already old and tired like me?” “José, I am going to die promoting, it is my life. As long as there are young people who want to be champions, I’ll be there to make their dreams come true.”