|12-10-2012, 02:35 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2011
Good article on arum admits coke use, talks about rivalry with king
On the steel shelves of The Lab, meanwhile, Arum's more than 9,000 fights are mixed in with a handful of other events he has promoted. Few are as memorable as Evel Knievel's 1974 attempt to jump Idaho's Snake River Canyon. Arum didn't like Knievel much. "Mean guy," Arum says. "He once told me, 'There are three things I hate in the world: New Yorkers, lawyers and Jews. And you're all three.'"
That didn't stop Knievel from hiring Arum to promote his jump. And what an event it was. More than 250 newspapers and magazines sent writers or photographers to Twin Falls that week; the event was broadcast on closed circuit and later on tape delay on Wide World of Sports. B-list celebrities from Suzy Chafee to Margaux Hemingway to Michael Ford, son of President Gerald Ford, poured into town. Arum brought in crazy acts such as Mr. TNT, who blew himself up in a box filled with dynamite. ("Great career choice," Arum says.) He enlisted the Flying Wallendas to walk a tightrope across the canyon.
Everything was going great until the day before Knievel's jump, when vendors abruptly raised the price of beer. The crowd of more than 15,000 that had gathered near the canyon's rim became unruly. Stands were looted, and people charged the television trucks. Alarmed, Arum assigned two Native Americans working on his staff to serve as scouts -- yes, scouts -- to bring back reports of what was going on in the crowd.
As the unrest increased, so did Arum's uneasiness. Finally, at 3 a.m., Arum had seen enough. He went into one of the trailers organizers had parked on the site and, he says, snorted a small packet of cocaine. When he emerged, he says, he ordered his security staff, already armed with handguns, to shoot into the crowd. "Thank God they didn't listen to me," says Arum. "My life might have turned out totally different."
In 1974 he and Teddy Brenner, the longtime matchmaker at Madison Square Garden, went to visit Ali and Herbert Muhammad at Ali's New York City apartment. Jerry Quarry, whom Ali had already beaten twice, had won a few fights in a row, and Arum and Brenner wanted to see if Ali was interested in a third match. As they discussed the deal, Brenner noticed that Muhammad was acting strangely. Without warning, Brenner stood up and bellowed, "Don King, come out of the bathroom." King never did, but later that day Muhammad admitted that King was indeed hiding in one of the bedrooms.
For decades Arum and King despised each other. Arum would sue King. King would sue Arum. Arum would try to steal Julio César Chávez from King. King would go after Marvin Hagler, who was represented by Arum. With black fighters, King would play the race card. In 1983, Hagler was in Worcester, Mass., fighting Tony Sibson. After the fight, Arum spotted King in an empty corridor chatting up Hagler's mother: "He kept saying, 'Why are you with this Jewish guy?' There wasn't much Don wouldn't say. Then again, there wasn't much I wouldn't say, either."
Arum was never Arum to King. He was Lonesome Bob. Plantation Bob. The Apostle of Apartheid. Arum says King used to recruit Al Sharpton to picket his offices in New York. King won't confirm the story, but when asked he doesn't deny it, either. Says Sharpton, "Bob took everything personally. He's the kind of guy who would think the South Africans were letting Nelson Mandella out of jail to screw up one of his fights." Whenever King was indicted on tax charges, Arum says, Jesse Jackson "would issue these releases saying Brother King has been indicted; why hasn't Arum been indicted too?"
Deals between the two promoters were difficult. In 1999 the boxing world was buzzing over a possible bout between De La Hoya and Félix Trinidad. To help broker a deal, HBO vice president Mark Taffet flew to Las Vegas to meet with Arum and King. In a hotel ballroom the two promoters negotiated. Problem was, they refused to talk to each other. "They wouldn't look each other in the eye," recalls Taffet. "They would look at me and say, 'Tell Bob this' and 'Tell Don that.' This went on for 30 minutes. But when they finally broke the ice, it was masterful. They both have an endless stream of ideas."
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