Don King, WealthTV, and Mr. Chow

By Robert Ecksel on October 27, 2011
Don King, WealthTV, and Mr. Chow
“WealthTV is me,” King said, “so whatever you want to see, this is what it’s going to be."

I asked Tim Smith, “What’s the deal with Don King and WealthTV?” With a wry smile he said, “That’s rich, isn’t it….”

History has pretty much passed Don King by. The man who ruled roost with an iron fist and wild hair has become a boxing afterthought. But like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps on keeping on and was in New York the other day to announce his most recent “strategic alliance” with WealthTV.

The motto of WealthTV, for those who get their kicks from the Cartoon Network and hence are unaware, is “An Abundance of Good.” It describes itself in its literature as presenting “Vicarious living at its finest” with programs like Wealth on Wheels, WOW! (World Travel), Palatial Passport, Wealth on the Water, Wealth International News, and the like.

Why WealthTV has decided to get in the fight game, of all things, is something only Don King can explain. Unfortunately, he was so busy explaining everything else, if explaining can be applied to anything that emerges from his lips, that the subject was barely addressed.

The ostensible reason for King and WealthTV president Charles Herring to be in New York was to announce a Nov. 5 fight between WBA cruiserweight champion Guillermo Jones defending his title against WBA #14 ranked Mike Marone live from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. That King’s fight card is being broadcast on the same night as Lucian Bute vs. Glen Johnson on Showtime and Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland on HBO is as sure a sign as any that King has lost his touch.

The press conference was held in private dining room on the second floor of Mr. Chow, a distinguished eatery just spitting distance from the Plaza. I’d eaten at Mr. Chow before. The food is rich to a fault, which was in keeping with the DK/WealthTV theme. I’m no restaurant critic, but the grub is borderline nondescript, a reinvention of Chinese cuisine featuring dumplings with God knows what inside, augmented by such delicacies as brightly colored meat on a stick covered in pink and orange glop. An acquaintance of mine loves it there, and keeps returning, even though he almost died of a heart attack eating that overpriced junk.

While waiting for King to make his entrance—and no one makes an entrance like Don King, it’s like a brass band marching through a bathroom stall—the press was treated to a video celebrating Don King the celebrity, featuring testimonials by George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Seth Abraham, and other boxing notables singing King’s praises. The video also showed the world-famous promoter standing with or holding hands or hugging Nelson Mandela, George W. Bush and his wife Laura, George Bush Sr. and his wife Barbara, Jimmy Carter, the Presidents of Nigeria and Ghana, Oprah, and even Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

After seeing King embrace Chavez, the dastardly foe of capitalism, I turned to Tim Smith, longtime boxing columnist of the NY Daily News, and said, “I see he plays both sides of the street.” Smith, who knows King like the back of his hand, said, “Don plays every side of the street.” And what’s the deal with WealthTV I asked. He looked at me with a wry smile and said, “That’s rich, isn’t it.”

King loves to play the patriotism card at every opportunity, and it was no different Tuesday afternoon.

He told the two-dozen people in the room, “We’ll have great fights. We’ll have dancing girls. We’ll have Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. We’ll have Guillermo Jones. And I guarantee you that, unlike another television network, we will show our National Anthem being sung as a matter of respect for our brave troops overseas. We must respect those who defend the glory of America, the greatness of America, the grandeur of America. Our troops overseas are fighting for our safety and freedom. Because of them, we know that we can be here and eat lunch at Philippe Chow without something bad happening to us.”

I thought of my acquaintance clutching his chest and growing blue in the face at Mr. Chow a year ago.

“WealthTV is me,” King said, “so whatever you want to see, this is what it’s going to be. It’s a party. It’s a festival. It’s excitement. We’re going to give everybody an opportunity in the land of opportunity. This is what makes it a festival and extravaganza. It’s not just a boxing match, because don’t nobody know none of the fighters.”

Thank you Don. Now where’s the waiter. I’d like some more of that discolored meat on a stick.

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  1. mikecasey 07:27am, 10/27/2011

    A scientist recently said that the first person to live robustly until the age of 150 might already be amongst us. I fear it might be Don King.

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