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Edited by Jack McCallum and Kostya Kennedy
November 27, 1995
Still the King
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November 27, 1995


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Still the King

Over the past 10 years Don King has beaten a tax evasion rap, been the target of an aborted FBI sting operation and now-dodged the bullet—temporarily, at least—of a federal prosecution on nine counts of wire fraud. Is there any doubt he deserves the Teflon Don tag given him by the Manhattan tabloids after his courtroom showdown ended in a mistrial last week? True, a date for U.S. v. King II is expected to be set next week, and government lawyers say they will go after the shock-haired promoter with renewed vigor. But King and his attorney, Peter Fleming, have seen everything federal prosecutors have to throw at them and will stand a good chance of bobbing and weaving their way to an acquittal or another hung jury.

Indeed the six-week circus that ended last Friday was supposed to have been an easy win for the government, which had a phony contract for a Julio César Chávez fight as evidence along with the testimony of King's former accountant, Joseph Maffia. The uncharacteristically terse defendant even gave the government case momentum by getting caught in some embarrassing inconsistencies on the stand and turning in a bumbling performance; some jurors later said they believed he lied on the stand.

And it still wasn't enough. After four days of deliberation the jury declared it was "irretrievably" divided—reportedly six for conviction, five for acquittal and one undecided. In typical fashion, the master of trickeration had 'em tricked. Barring an unlikely conviction in the retrial, King will continue to pull the strings in the fight game, arranging some bouts that shouldn't be made, ignoring others that should, acting always in his self-interest. He will continue to play the conflicting roles of promoter, whose profit is optimized by low costs, and manager, whose cut depends on high purses. And he will continue to be the biggest blight on boxing.

Dear Diary: The NCAA Is Stupid

Three Florida schools are in trouble with the NCAA again. What is it this time? A cash payment under the table? A car for a recruit? Entanglements with a sports agent?

No, it's diaries. The NCAA has written to the Tallahassee Democrat informing the paper that it is jeopardizing the eligibility of players at Florida, Florida A&M and Florida State by printing weekly diaries by the players, which have appeared in the Democrat on football Saturdays for five years. It matters not to the i-dotters and t-crossers at the NCAA that the players are not paid. Stephen A. Mallonee, the NCAA's director of legislative services, says that the diaries are a commercial enterprise (as if Division I football isn't) because they "are a promotion of the sale of the newspaper" and are therefore off-limits. Funny, you might think the NCAA would get behind an endeavor in which athletes actually use the English language.

"It's just another representation of the limitations they are putting on us as human beings," says Florida State lineman Forrest Conoly, whose final diary appeared in the Democrat on Nov. 11. Hmmm, sounds like a spicy diary entry.

The Road Not Taken

When the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to honor Jim Thorpe during next year's relay that will carry the torch to Atlanta, it routed the relay through Yale, Okla., and billed it as Thorpe's place of birth. Problem is, Thorpe was born 45 miles down the road in Keokuk Falls, a dissolved Native American town. It stood adjacent to what is currently Prague, a town of 2,308 where folks are mighty riled. Thorpe did spend five years in Yale, and the USOC has amended its literature to refer to Yale as Thorpe's "home" instead of his birthplace. But a wave of letters, including ones from Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, Congressman Bill Brewster and Thorpe's daughter Grace, who lives in Prague, has failed to get the USOC to add the town to its 15,000-mile route. The relay will simply pause in Yale to honor Thorpe, who won the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics.

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