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In the Crossfire

Don King sounds off on boxing

Don King
King: "If you cast your bread upon the water and you have faith, you'll get back cash. If you don't have faith, you'll get soggy bread."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Boxing promoter Don King has represented boxing legends including Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

Known for his flamboyant style and showmanship, King stepped into the "Crossfire" ring Thursday with hosts James Carville and Tucker Carlson to discuss Tyson, Tonya Harding and the state of boxing today.

CARLSON: Now tell me, James and I were just talking that we both like boxing.

First of all, every one is down on Mike Tyson, you maybe more than most even. Why? And second, what happened to Mike Tyson who had so much problems?

KING: Well, first of all, let me correct you. I'm not down on Mike Tyson. I think that Mike Tyson is down on himself. ... He chooses a path that's the wrong path to take.

But I think that he's a great fighter and a great human being. I love the guy and I'm sorry to see him go into such a state by listening to others.

CARLSON: Really. Well, we have this quote from the Daily Record from June 5. Here's what you said about Mike Tyson. Doesn't sound like something you'd say about someone you love.

"Mike Tyson could be a poster boy for the Ku Klux Klan. He's the embodiment, he personifies so that he can be [in an] ad for them to say, `See that I told you,' and everyone laughs like it's funny."

That's pretty rough.

KING: Well, that's pretty true. You must understand that Mike Tyson embodies what the Klan was trying to [say about African- Americans] -- that we are lazy and lethargic. That we can't rise to the occasion, and we all lie, cheat and steal. This is the stereotyped image that they had of African-Americans throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. And it lingers on today from the scars of slavery.

And when he acts that way -- where he would insult women, bite off ears, do things that they said all along -- then ... it looks like what they're saying has some credibility. He could have been the poster boy for the Ku Klux Klan.

CARVILLE: You know I'm a fight fan. I'm two things -- I'm a Roman Catholic and I'm a fight fan. And the day we get rid of Cardinal Law and Mike Tyson the better it's going to be for my church and my sport. So...

KING: Here, here.

CARVILLE: We're talking about several things. Colonel Bob Sheridan, who is the famous great boxing announcer, told me one of the things that people don't know, that you're a mathematical genius.

KING: Well, he's very kind. But you know that he worked with Colonel Sheridan. You know I had that distinct honor and privilege. ...

CARVILLE: But how fast can you calculate numbers? I'm told that you're the best there is. Is that true?

KING: Well, he's being very kind.

CARVILLE: Other people have told me that.

KING: He's being very kind. You know, I try to do the best I can with what I have to work with. ...

CARVILLE: I serve on the board of the Retired Boxers Association with Alex Ramos and we love boxing. But we know it causes severe damage to people. You know that and I know that. The retired boxers have a tough go.

Would you be willing to lead [something where] all the boxing promoters take a small percentage of the gross and put it aside to help these retired fighters who have severe neurological problems? A lot of them of them are lovely people but uneducated. Is there something that you and I and other people can do to help these old fighters that have been forgotten by everybody?

KING: Well, I certainly would be an advocate of that, but I'd like to also say I'd like to be an advocate for helping all of the underprivileged: the poor, the downtrodden and denied. It don't have to be boxers. It's those in this country that are suffering.

Now in addition to that, let us help the aging. Let us help the homeless. Let us help the jobless. Let us help them all. So those of us who are fortunate enough, let us contribute and work for those who are less fortunate.

CARLSON: Outstanding. I'm just personally interested. How much do you think you've made over the years promoting fighting?

KING: Oh, I don't know. You know, if you can count your money, you ain't got none.

And so you don't put it in money. You understand what I mean? You put in terms of what good have you done.

CARLSON: That's interesting.

KING: ... and what you've done in America.

If you cast your bread upon the water and you have faith, you'll get back cash. If you don't have faith, you'll get soggy bread.

CARLSON: OK, thank you, reverend. Well, tell me this, you essentially implied that Mike Tyson has become a freak show, biting people's ears and stuff. For a freak show, you really can't beat Tonya Harding as a boxer.

Do you think that's good for the sport?

KING: Well, I didn't say those words. Now you have a very sophisticated knack of taking semantics and taking them over the cliff, so to speak.

CARLSON: Well, I appreciate that.

KING: Well, you know I applaud you for that. I think Tonya Harding is a wonderful American. I mean, she went astray but wouldn't the Lord Jesus say if one sheep is astray from the flock, would [he] not bring it back into the fold?

CARLSON: Bring it back into the ring.

KING: To the flock, you know what I mean.

CARLSON: Should she be in the ring?

KING: Listen, ladies are boxing and they're doing very well at it. So you've got a lot of ladies that are really terrific. And you can't discriminate against the ladies. They've got a right -- that's what freedom is. Freedom is choice. And to have the choice to do whatever you want to do and you respect that right.

CARVILLE: Pound for pound, who is the best fighter in the world today?

KING: Roy Jones. Roy Jones is what I call a superman. He is so superior to all of his colleagues and in his weight category, that when people begin to think that he was a coward and that he would fight nobody ... he represented us [the United States] in Korea in the Olympics.

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