Don King on the verge of his carrier breakup
"The Irish Outlaw" Ryan Coyne (21-0, 9 KOs) was on the verge of the biggest break of his career. Not only was the 30-year-old Missouri-based club fighter set to challenge WBO light heavyweight champ, Wales' Nathan Cleverly, on the November 10 undercard of a Showtime event, but he would also be receiving a low six-figure purse. It was the type of fight that makes up for a career's worth of poorly-paid, lowlevel bouts far away from the spotlight.
Unfortunately for Coyne, just as soon as the fight was announced, it began to be torn apart. Leading the efforts to kill the fight was promoter Don King, who was claiming to still hold promotional rights to Coyne despite not having actually promoted a fight for him in about sixteen months. Right or wrong in his claims, King proceeded to poke, prod, and threaten everyone involved with the fight until Cleverly's promoter, Frank Warren, decided to find another opponent for his fighter. This was to be Cleverly's official American, main stage debut and talk of lawsuits and emergency injunctions with days to go before the event just didn't sit well with the veteran UK promoter.
The efforts to squash the fight weren't surprising to those who follow the modus operandi of Don King Productions (DKP), nor were Coyne's subsequent claims of professional mismanagement.
For younger fight fans, Don King is the elderly, flagwaving caricature with the spiked hair who occasionally talks loudly about boxing on TV. But veteran boxing enthusiasts have a far different view of King.
A former street hustler, King emerged from a prison stint for manslaughter in the early '70s with a burning passion to be somebody-- and he found a home in the shady world of boxing promotion. Equally known for strong-arming boxing's biggest stars as for putting on big shows, the Cleveland native became the most controversial figure in a controversial sport for the better part of 30 years. These days, though, the 81-year-old King barely registers as a blip on boxing's radar.