Dong King Way

By Robert Ecksel on September 15, 2016
Dong King Way
The jury deliberated four hours and returned with a verdict of second-degree murder.

Acting as judge, jury and executioner, King got from Garrett what Garrett failed to give to King of his own volition…

“Prison was the best thing that ever happened to me. I went in with a pistol and came out with an atom bomb.”—Don King

It would be nice to believe that Don King was an aberration, the first and last of his kind to infiltrate the sweet science, but that is pie in the sky, wishful thinking by people whose head is where the sun don’t shine.

In a country that loves second acts even more than it loves the first, Don King’s second act served to legitimize a man whose legitimacy, even while wrapped in a flag, even while oozing success, even while having a stranglehold on boxing, is being questioned to this day.

Thanks to an article in the NY Daily News, I read that the Cleveland City Council, the city from where King hails, was in the process of repealing legislation that would have designated part of Shaker Boulevard as “Dong King Way” [sic].

I was less surprised that King is being honored, since he has been honored repeatedly over the years, than surprised that the Daily News published a story about a man whose name it failed to correctly spell.

Spelling is relevant only insofar as literacy matters, and of course literacy no more matters than King’s crimes matter to the Cleveland City Council.

His criminal record and mob ties might be enough to dissuade local politicians from naming a street after King. But the Cleveland City Council isn’t pulling the plug on “Dong King Way,” or Don King Way if you prefer. It’s just moving it to another part of town, an area of Cedar Avenue between East 36th Street and Stokes Boulevard, with a little more historical resonance.

In 1966, King—who was known as “The Kid” and ran a powerful bookmaking operation—beat one of his employees, a small-time numbers operator named Sam Garrett, to death near E. 100th Street on Cedar Avenue. Acting as judge, jury and executioner, King got from Garrett what Garrett failed to give to King of his own volition, a $600 in gambling debt.

According to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article dated April 21, 1966, King kicked Garrett three times in the head. He was also “beaten with a gun,” a .38-caliber revolver.

King was apparently so filled with rage, or so sure of himself and the powerful people he knew, that he stomped and pistol-whipped his victim in front of witnesses, including Detectives Robert Tonne and John Horvath of the Cleveland Police Department, who heard Garrett mutter to King, as he lay on the ground, “How much do I owe you? How much do I owe you?”

Sam Garrett died five days later. King claimed self-defense. The jury didn’t buy it. They deliberated four hours and returned with a verdict of second-degree murder.

The murder conviction was reduced to first-degree manslaughter when someone got to the judge and King served almost four years before being paroled by then-Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes in 1983.

Don King made the most of his freedom, often at his fighters’ expense. He became a self-described “black Horatio Alger” and went on to become one of the most recognizable presences this side of paradise.

All things being equal, maybe “Dong King” should have an alley named after him instead of a street.

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  1. Arthur Forman 11:07am, 09/22/2016

    well timed & written
    Don King has been promoting Don Drumpf’s campaign
    very fitting

  2. Peter 04:07am, 09/18/2016

    Perhaps the “misspelling” was intentional.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:43am, 09/17/2016

    He’s just one of tens of millions of the Walking Dead abroad in the land and as a matter of fact one holds court in the Executive Office at this very moment.

  4. Long Duk Dong 02:11pm, 09/16/2016

    They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Take a good look at Dong’s peepers.

  5. The Thresher 11:17am, 09/16/2016

    Here is the single best article I have ever read regarding Dung King: http://boxingbuzz.sportsblog.com/posts/24070293/don-king-is-boxing—magno—-s-monday-rant.html

  6. Lindy Lindell 09:42am, 09/16/2016

    Flash Gordon called him “Dung” King.

  7. Dong Dangler 03:29pm, 09/15/2016

    Maybe Long Duck Dong can make a cameo in the upcoming Dong King movie. Long time, no see for Dong.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:20pm, 09/15/2016

    Don King is the most misunderstood “presence” of our time and in reality is a warm and wonderful human being. When Hollywood does his life story. I think Leslie Jones would be perfect in the title role. Johnny Depp would be great in a cameo as Sam Garrett.

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