TWO KINGS: One of Rock n’ Roll & Another of the Boxing Ring!
By Ken Hissner: The word “king” has been a label for monarchs, royalty and many others. Once Steve “USS” Cunningham’s cut-man Buddy Osborn was to work with one of Don King’s veteran cut-man. He told Osborn whose new trade started with Cunningham “I was sent by King to work the corner”. Osborn, a former inmate, and amateur boxer, now born again Christian said “I was sent by the King of Kings, Jesus Christ”. King’s man assisted Osborn and was very helpful per him.
This writer also believes there is only one King and that is Jesus Christ but as a fan of both Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali I remember the night Ali entered the ring with a full length white robe with “People’s Champ” on the back in jewels in 1974 if memory serves me right for the first “Smokin” Joe Frazier fight given to him by Elvis. In doing my research I came across a story by Terry Conway entitled “The King Meets the Greatest”. It was a superb article that can be found here Elvis-Express/Ali.
This writer first met Ali in 1972 in center city Philly shortly after his loss to Ken Norton. He had a broken jaw but that didn’t stop him from talking. This old guy who looked like Algonquin J. Calhoun the lawyer from the TV series “Amos n’ Andy” who within a small crowd in center city Philadelphia said pointing to Ali “next time you fight Norton be a man not a boy!” Ali responded with “did you call me Roy?” The whole crowd was laughing except the old man. Again he pointed to Ali and said “I said next time you fight Norton be a man not a boy!” Ali who loved to make up rhyme’s said “play with him like a toy?” Even the old man laughed along with the rest of us.
Two weeks later I saw a picture of Ali’s former home at 70th & Overbrook in Philly and his new home in Cherry Hill, NJ, near the then Cherry Hill Arena. I knocked on the door and his second wife Belinda answered. I asked “can I talk to the champ?” She said “just a minute.” She came back and opened the door and said “come on in”. That was the first personal meeting I would have with Ali. Several other times after this at his training camp in Deer Lake, PA, I would have the opportunity to talk to Ali. He was one of the funniest individuals I ever met. Not only a good looking guy but a very bright one.
Now getting back to Elvis I once ready a piece by a former boxer who worked fight scenes in Hollywood and sometimes as a referee. He said “there were two he-men in Hollywood in Gary Cooper and John Wayne but neither could be a good boxer. The two that could have been were (my favorite of all-time actor) John Garfield (who starred in Body & Soul besides being an amateur boxer from NY at one time) and (in Kid Galahad) Elvis Presley”. I believe Elvis had a brown belt in Martial Arts.
Partial quote by Ali from Conway’s story on Elvis was “Elvis was my close personal friend. He came to my Deer Lake (PA) training camp about two years before he died. He told us he didn’t want anyone to bother us…Elvis had a robe made for me. I don’t admire nobody but Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to know”.
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