Don King selling heavyweight property in Florida, USA

Don King selling heavyweight property in Florida, USA

Florida, USA: Legendary boxing promoter Don King has re-listed his Florida property for US$20 million, after removing the house from sale back in June 2010.

The three acre, luxury ocean front estate in Manalapan, Florida, USA was first put on sale in 2009 for US$27.5 million. However King received little interest and decided to delist the property in summer last year.

The luxury property features two houses; a nine bedroom, 1,672 square metres (18,000 square feet) mansion and a smaller five bedroom guest property of 631 square metres (6,800 square feet). Both properties have their own swimming pools.

At the rear of the estate a replica Statue of Liberty overlooks the ninety one metres (300 feet) of beach frontage.

King bought the house in 1999 for US$7.8 million and later the same year purchased the adjacent five bedroom house for US$6.5 million.

When King first listed the property in 2009 he told the Wall Street Journal; “I need to downsize”, as it had become increasingly difficult for the seventy nine year old to walk from one house to the other.

“I’m going to move to wherever I can find a nice little cosy, US$10 million to US$5 million house,” he added.

Don King was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1931. His father Clarence was a steelworker and his mother Hattie a baker.

His first enterprise was an illegal bookmaking business based in his home town. In fact, by the time he was twenty years old King was making so much money from ‘running numbers’ he decided to drop out of Case Western Reserve University.

In 1954 King was charged with killing Hillary Brown after he shot him in the back whilst he was trying to rob one of King’s gambling houses.  He was later acquitted on the grounds of justifiable homicide.

As King’s business flourished in the late 1950’s he bought shares in a popular Cleveland supper club. And in 1960 he met a young Olympic boxing champion called Cassius Clay at the club. The pair became friends and King started to follow the fighter all around the USA to attend his fights.

Then in 1966 King got involved in an argument with Sam Garrett, an employee, over a US$600 debt King felt Garrett owed him. The row became physical and in the course of the scuffle Garrett’s head hit the floor. He later died from his injuries. Some witnesses said King had beaten Garrett mercilessly, but King claimed Garrett attacked him first and he was defending himself. At the subsequent trial in 1967, King was convicted of manslaughter and sent to the Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio.

After serving just four years of his jail his sentence, King was paroled in September 1971.  He was eventually granted a full pardon by Ohio Governor James Rhodes in 1983.

King had used his time inside to educate himself in philosophy and classic literature. He was now determined to leave the numbers game behind, so he began looking for legitimate business opportunities.

King first cut his teeth as a boxing promoter in 1972, when he organized a benefit to try and keep Cleveland’s only black hospital, Forest City Hospital, from closing down.

He managed to persuade Muhammad Ali (the former Cassius Clay) to fight a ten-round exhibition match against four different opponents. The event was a huge success and raised over US$80,000 for the hospital. It also convinced King that there was money to be made as a boxing promoter.

King’s big breakthrough as a promoter came in 1974, when he set up Don King Productions and masterminded the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight title fight between Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire.

With only very limited experience, King used his natural salesmanship to talk the government of Zaire into paying over US$10 million to support the event. The fight was such a success it established King as a top boxing promoter.

King followed up the “Rumble in the Jungle” with the 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” which featured Ali and Joe Frazier. This is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight bouts of all time.

In 1982 King was the first sports promoter to establish his own television network; the Don King Sports and Entertainment Network.

King turned his talents to the music business in 1984 when he promoted The Jacksons 1984 Victory Tour.  The tour grossed over US$75 million and set a world record for that time.

However, his career has been blighted by several court cases brought by his clients for underpayment of fight fees and fraud.  The highest profile case came in 1980 when Muhammad Ali sued King for underpaying him by US$1.2 million for a fight with Larry Holmes.  Ali settled out of court for US$50,000.

More recently, in May 1995 King was sued by Lennox Lewis who claimed that King had used threatening behaviour to pull Mike Tyson from a rematch with the British boxer. Lewis said this had cost him US$285 million.

King’s client list over the past 30 years reads like a who’s who of title contenders and includes; Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, Ricardo Lopez, Terry Norris and Chris Byrd.

To date, Don King Productions has promoted over five hundred world championship fights.

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