World-renowned boxing promoter Don King, the sometimes-controversial yet highly successful head of Don King Productions, is set to make his first venture into MMA.
King will partner with self-described “bad boy of Wall Street” Ross Mandell in the upstart RHM Productions.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) learned of King’s hiring as a senior adviser for the new company from sources close to the Boca Raton, Fla.-based organization, and confirmed the news with King’s news media advisor, Robert Weneck.
“[King] has been retained as a senior adviser to a Wall Street group that wanted to invest in mixed martial arts,” Weneck said. “[Mandell] put together people from London, from New York, lots of major companies. It’s a very credible list. They all wanted to invest in light of the growth of mixed martial arts.
While complete details of the new group’s business plan were not immediately clear, the company’s initial efforts are expected to begin with a reality show/documentary film series in the style of HBO’s successful “24/7,” which will use the program to build up the as-yet-unnamed promotion’s fighters before the debut event.
As I’ve said a million times before, I don’t know a whole lot about boxing, but you don’t really have to know much to know who Don King is, and also know he’s not someone anyone should hope gets involved in mixed martial arts. He may be successful, attract a ton of eyeballs, but he brings more baggage than you can stuff in a 747.
Don King has been a lightning rod for controversy throughout his career. He has been the subject of several lawsuits by boxers he managed who alleged that they were forced to hire King’s relatives and cronies. He has faced charges of tax evasion by the IRS. Rumors of jury-tampering have swirled around him. And it also became known that the rights to pay-per-view fights he promoted were awarded to organized crime figures, some of whom may have known King from his book-making days.
King has been investigated for possible connections with organized crime. During a 1992 Senate investigation King pleaded the Fifth Amendment when questioned about his connection to mobster John Gotti. In public, however, he has responded to mob allegations by calling them racist.
Clearly, this isn’t the type of individual we want in MMA.* King isn’t getting into this because he loves the sport, in fact, he’s criticized it in the past. Make no mistake, he’s only in it to make a buck off it. Kind of reminds you of another boxing promoter who recently failed in MMA, Gary Shaw, just a whole lot shadier. I’ve always been for multiple organizations in mixed martial arts, but for the first time, this is one I actually hope fails, regardless if he brings HBO, ESPN, or a mainstream media frenzy with him. It’s just not worth it.
On a semi-related note, in an interview with DreamFighters.com, Roy Jones Jr. said he’s training with dad again. I’ve been told this is a big deal, so figured I’d pass along the news to any of you who follow boxing.
* To be clear, I don’t mean to sound like MMA is sacred, and needs to stay that way, etc. etc. I say this because organizations are only as good as the people who run them, and it’s quite obvious what type of person King is. I truly believe MMA is eventually going to break out into a true mainstream sport, one way or the other, regardless if King’s involved or not. What I sincerely hopes never happens is the sport being riddled with the level of corruption boxing has seen. For the rest of my life, I hope to enjoy watching mixed martial arts, not be turned off to it because it’s been tainted by corrupt individuals.