I’m back and know you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed having you listen to me. I may be the world’s most splendid talker. In public I spellbind, in groups I entertain, and one on one I scare hell out of people. There’s nothing bad in that. That’s life, and a damn good one. I’m a beacon of motivation. Only in America can a man overcome so much violence and grief and soar to become the greatest promoter in the annals of pugilism or any other righteous endeavor.
Imagine, I was born indigent and had to leave college as a young man. Confronted by poverty and racism, I survived only by becoming a bookmaker. I ran a clean and vigorous business. Indeed, I ran many and was heavyweight champion of Cleveland. Others, naturally, were jealous and greedy. An armed man, a remorseless robber, entered one of my fine establishments but, before he could exit, I shot him in the back. He wasn’t leaving to be polite. He was fleeing because intrepid Don King had a gun. Authorities ruled that justifiable. But I couldn’t trust them or anyone else.
I was making fifteen grand a day and people wanted to seize the riches my talent generated. One disgraceful employee ripped off six hundred dollars and, even after I apprehended him and refuted his lies, he attacked me. I don’t care he was a hundred pounds lighter. He assaulted me just as he’d stolen from me and we exchanged fisticuffs until, tragically, this man – who was a personal friend – fell and struck his head on the sidewalk and expired. I was and am aggrieved by this. Outrageously, a police officer and other prevaricators perjured themselves and said I’d repeatedly stomped the man’s head. The jury convicted me of second degree murder, and big time loomed in the big house until honest officials, meeting privately, decided my conviction should quietly be modified to manslaughter which cost me four – but not twenty – years in the penitentiary.
I emerged with more energy and charisma than any man alive and soon persuaded Muhammad Ali to box in a charity event for a Cleveland hospital and, Praise the Lord, by 1974 I was what P.T. Barnum would’ve loved to be: I was promoter of the Rumble in the Jungle, the greatest fistic showdown ever, matching ferocious champion George Foreman against mercurial Muhammad Ali, my only rival in delightful repartee. Other promoters had tried to get this fight but they lacked the millions up front. I didn’t have the money, either, but sticky-fingered President Mobutu of Zaire certainly did, and I mesmerized him, so the fight was on. I felt George would slaughter Muhammad but when the aging but adroit challenger knocked George down for the count of ten, I was obligated to ally myself with Ali, just as in 1973 I’d forsaken fallen Joe Frazier to embrace his conqueror, George Foreman. That’s life. The strongest are irresistible.
I still cared for Joe and wanted to help and in so doing continued to discover my remarkable talent for international relations as I charmed President Marcos and his lovely bride Imelda, and staged the Thrilla in Manila, Ali versus Frazier, super fight three. God, what a war. I didn’t know who I was rooting for but didn’t care long as I could fast get to the corner of whoever won. After fourteen life-destroying rounds, Ali stopped Frazier, and I promoted the champion. I could go on about the phalanx of champions I’ve guided. I can always go on, for hours. But today I want to be brief, in a relative sense, and emphasize simply that I promoted all the great heavyweights of the golden seventies and eighties, including Larry Holmes, and many other champions then and in the nineties, hello Mike Tyson.
This unprecedented success made people vindictive as well as greedy and dishonest. You’d think that the brothers, my fellow noble black men, would have appreciated my largess in lifting them from penury into lives of wealth and fame. Alas, that has not been the case. Ali, too addled to know the truth, said I underpaid him a million or so. Despite his travails, he had an instant of lucidity and took fifty grand. Larry Holmes, jealous of Ali’s popularity and my wizardry, claimed I shorted him more than ten million. If that’s true why did he settle about a penny on the dollar and lawfully agree to quit impugning me. Terrible Tim Witherspoon, who was a lowly hospital orderly when I met him, charged that I assigned too much money he earned in the ring to my son Carl and myself. His twenty-five million dollar lawsuit was preposterous and that’s why he settled for four cents on the buck. I wanted him to have a million. I like to aid impoverished fighters. I still love Mike Tyson though he’s called me a “wretched, slimy reptilian motherfucker” and worse. Mike has mental issues that my counsel could likely resolve, and I’m ready to help, and even promote his new career as a thespian, if he wishes. All show biz is the same.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m back. I was never really away. You just weren’t seeing me as much. But now I’ve got a bigger star than Ali, Frazier, Foreman, and Tyson combined. I’ve got Bermane Stiverne, a youthful thirty-five-year old born in Haiti, who’s been under my tutelage since turning pro and has nuclear power in lightning hands. He’s lost only once, long ago, and, though recently trailing in the sixth round, stopped huge Chris Arreola to win one of the heavyweight crowns, and it doesn’t matter which one. He’s got a belt and I’ve got him, and that means I’ve got the champ and whoever the champ fights and if Stiverne loses then I’ve got that guy, unless he fights Wladimir Klitschko, in which case I’ve got the biggest heavyweight fight in a generation, and I’ll be bringing it to only in America and you’ll also enjoy my energizing voice and bask in my persona and be amazed a man eighty plus two still has a head full of electric hair shooting into the heavens.