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DON KING "Only In America"

Don King was opposed to HBO doing the film based on his life. HBO went forward and completed it without his blessings. - HBO photo

 


 

James Loving - National Radio Text Service

 

We've viewed the film before the final cut. Having seen the two versions the scenes that were eliminated contained excessive vulgar language. But HEY....that's one of the things that makes King such a colorful subject. Without the language the movie loses some steam and becomes too tame. This is very much UNLIKE King.

 

Hollywood, California

November 14, 1997

Whether you love, hate, or have no opinion on DON KING, HBO Picture's "Don King: Only In America" is a MUST for viewing. The film recently has been televised in Asia through HBO's International television distribution.

The picture's portrayal of King's life commences from the time that he murdered a man over money in the 50's and served time for it. The fast paced high-energy film portrays King bouncing back and from that adversity to become the biggest boxing promoter of all time. In doing so the film depicts the sticky relationship King had with his main boxing-promoting competitor BOB ARUM. To this day that relationship remains the same….STICKY.

KING was opposed to HBO doing the film. HBO went forward and completed it without his blessings. An interesting aspect of the picture has King played by VING RAHMES ["Con Air, "Pulp Fiction"] between scenes, talking to the audience while offering a humorous perspective of his life. The film is a well-balanced and shows the humorous lovable side [if you can believe that] of King as well as laying out the descriptive facts about the dark side of his life. RHAMES does an outstanding portrayal of King capturing the many facets of the promoter's complex persona.

Having dealt with King personally, there were times [while watching the film]; I really had the feeling that Rhames was King. He remarkably got under the skin of Kings character. It's one thing to play a role of someone that you or others CAN NOT relate to but Rhames did the unbelievable… His performance gives you the feeling that he really is DON KING and is someone that almost everyone can relate to.

The movie encompasses King's life experiences from his Cleveland, Ohio nightclub relationship with R & B singer Lloyd Price. One of the film's highlights are scenes with King promoting a Muhammad Ali fight for the benefit of a hospital. These scenes depicted King's charming conning skills. They were edited out of the versions shown in Thailand and America.

We've viewed the film before the final cut. Having seen the two versions the scenes that were eliminated contained excessive vulgar language. But HEY....that's one of the things that makes King such a colorful subject. Without the language the movie loses some steam and becomes too tame. This is very much UNLIKE King.

The pictures rapid pace incorporates King's life through the infamous fight when Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear. It's difficult to squeeze King's 43 years of wheeling and dealing into a couple of hours but director John Herzfield did a commendable job in the original cut.

This film isn't "Gandhi" or "Gone With The Wind" but it's one of the most entertaining movies that I have ever seen. Most of all, it made me laugh, and that's a good thing.

Darius McCray plays the part of Muhammad Ali. Other actors and roles they play are: Vonde-Curtis Hall/ Lloyd Price, Clifford Couser/Mike Tyson, Isreal Cole/Joe Frazier, Danny Johnson/Larry Holmes, Lahmard Tate/Carl King, James Black/Ernie Shavers, Jarrod Bunch/George Foreman and Bernie Mac/Bundini Brown.

Singer LOU RAWLS performed the part of Harold Logan. Rawls was actually involved of the failed concert prior to the "Rumble In The Jungle" fight in Zaire, Africa between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Mike Tyson's former trainer, in real life, TEDDY ATLAS also plays the part of Richie Giachetti. JACK NEWFIELD, who wrote the book on which the film was based, has a cameo role. Fight promoter DON ELBAUM portrays himself.

The rating on this film: When it's available in your area…. DO NOT MISS IT.


 

Lloyd Price

 

 

SIDE BAR:

Vocalist/musician LLOYD PRICE was the person who introduced DON KING to MUHAMMAD ALI and gave King his famous electric looking hairstyle. When I talked to Price at the HBO screening of the film I shared with him a personal experience that he unknowingly was apart of.

Prior to becoming a journalist I was a musician. In the early days of my career I worked with a guitarist by the name of PAT MARTINO. Martino left my group to join Price's band. I jokingly told Price that I've been mad at him ever since, for stealing my guitar player. Price laughed.

Think about it…. How could someone leave a job that paid [a sometimes] $25 a night to join a recording star that had two hit records, "Stagerlee" and "Personality", owned a club in New York City and had plenty of work? GO FIGURE….

Price said Martino was with his band during the time depicted in the film. After leaving Price, Martino went on to play with Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson and Jack McDuff. He later established his own solo career.


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