Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Below The Beltway

Writing on the Huffington Post, Jamal Simmons makes a small, but important point with which I agree 100 percent.

What the heck is Michael Steele -- whom I know personally and for whom I respect -- doing championing the endorsements of Don King and
Mike Tyson? It was embarrassing enough to see King being paraded around the 2004 Republican Convention as the head of yet another faux black GOP organizations -- African Americans for Bush.

In fairness, Steele does have a personal connection to Tyson: his sister used to be married to the ex-champ. However, that makes bringing in Tyson that much more perplexing. King bears the lion's share of the blame for making Tyson the pathetic figure he is today, after whisking him away from the (predominantly white) surrogate father (manager Cus D'Amato) and "family" (co-manager Bill Cayton and trainer Kevin Rooney) who collectively discovered Tyson and engineered his stunning early rise.

That group helped make Tyson the youngest man to ever win a heavyweight title belt, kept him focused and managed to keep him out of legal and financial trouble.

In contrast, using a racial kinship to gain Tyson's trust King swooped in, made ridiculous amounts of money off of Tyson, allowed the man's talent to atrophy through lack of training, and never provided Tyson with enough responsible "watchers" to keep him out of a situation that ended in the rape of Desiree Washington.

Yes, Tyson was discovered in jail as a juvenile offender, so perhaps his destiny was already written, but Don King played a pre-eminent role in turning the once-most fearsome heavyweight champ of all time into a chump and a sad joke.

Of course, this was nothing new to Don King who also ripped off Muhammad Ali for millions. In short, Don King -- for all of his "only-in-America" bullshit -- has a
career littered with dead bodies, broken careers and financial ruin.

While one might find reasons to criticize Steele-endorser Russell Simmons and his hip-hop empire, he is a far better example of a modern African-American entrepreneurial success story than the morally reprobate Don King.

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