By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Don King called Richard Schaefer on Wednesday morning to ask for more money.
King explained during a news conference to promote the Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud fight Saturday night at Barclays Center that he heard a rumor that there was more money available in the promotional pot than Schaefer had led him to believe. Schaefer, the chief executive officer for Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, laughed off King’s last-second shakedown as simply part of doing business with the once-powerful promoter, who represents Cloud.
But harassing Schaefer for an increase in his split wasn’t King’s most ridiculous request of the day. The 81-year-old promoter also asked Schaefer to arrange a memorial 10-count during HBO’s broadcast to honor Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who died at 58 on Tuesday from cancer complications.
King considered Chavez a friend, but he seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he was probably the only person in Barclays Center who thought commemorating Chavez on Saturday night would be appropriate. Not only are memorial 10-counts typically reserved for figures involved in boxing, Chavez’s hatred for the United States was well-documented and was the primary reason for poor relations between the two nations in recent years.
Of course, that didn’t deter the ever-verbose King from praising one of the world’s most polarizing political figures and waiving a Venezuelan flag while delivering a 15-minute soliloquy in which he managed to mention everyone from Marvin Gaye to Vladimir Putin to Rosie Perez.
“Let me say this here,” King said. “Before I go into my schpiel, which I’m going to have to talk about a few things, my friend, my brother passed [Tuesday]. And I’m very humbled by that, and I think that the good lord has called Hugo Chavez. Many people may or may not like him, or whatever they may do. But I love him. He was my brother. I met him in 1971, when I opened up the Poliedro Arena in Caracas, Venezuela. He was my security. He was a lieutenant in the army. We’ve been friends ever since, but his achievements and accomplishments was the people. I’m a promoter of the people, by the people and for the people, and my magic lies in my people ties.
“This man represented Venezuela with the downtrodden, the underprivileged, the denied, the poor, and people that never seen doctors before, he took the doctors to the people, rather than bringing the people to the doctors. And so he’s going to be missed greatly. He was a great leader and he cared about the people he represented. And so I just want to ask everyone, you know, to just say a prayer for his spirit to go on up to heaven and meet our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, and deal with what is real.”
Schaefer smiled when King asked about a memorial 10-count for Chavez, but he didn’t give King an answer. Observing Chavez is not expected to be part of the program Saturday night in Brooklyn.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.