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The Courtroom Cowboy Chapter 17

Don King, the biggest boxing promoter on the planet, was seated at the head of his 30-foot conference table. His famous electric hair was standing straight up. He was dressed casually, in a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts, but since he was Don King, he also sported a diamond-studded titanium necklace and a diamond-crusted watch, and he was chewing on a fat, unlit 14-inch Cuban cigar.

It was June 9, 1997, and King was scheduled for another afternoon of legal sparring in his private office in Deerfield Beach, Fla., filled with huge, overstuffed leather chairs and a giant, framed replica of the U.S. Constitution.

King was involved in so many lawsuits and ongoing investigations that he spent more time with lawyers than boxers. The man who had beaten federal indictments for tax evasion and insurance fraud had long ago accepted endless litigation as part of the price of doing business.

King conferred briefly with two lawyers, in preparation for the day’s match, a deposition he had to give in a federal case filed against him by some lawyer from Philadelphia. King didn’t seem too concerned, even though a friend in the room, James J. Binns, another Philadelphia lawyer who represented the World Boxing Association (WBA), had warned King that he was about to go up against the dean of the Philadelphia bar.

Jim Beasley had flown down to Florida in his P-51 Mustang. He strolled into King’s office dressed casually, in frayed jeans, a leather vest and cowboy boots. He sat down at King’s conference table, and, without any introductions, proceeded to ask Binns about documents in the case that a federal judge had asked King and the WBA to produce, documents that Binns tried to explain didn’t really exist.

King’s conference table was filled with four lawyers, a boxer, and a boxing manager, not to mention Don King himself, but Beasley spoke only to Jimmy Binns, as if the two Philadelphia lawyers named Jim were the only two guys in the room. Nina M. Gussack, King’s defense lawyer, tried to butt in, explaining that some of the documents that Beasley had requested were outside the scope of the judge’s expedited order for discovery, but Beasley didn’t pay any attention.

“Are you with me?” Gussack asked, but Beasley didn’t respond. “Jimmy,” Beasley said to Binns, continuing their private chat, “you say you don’t have that?”

King, not used to being ignored, sat there silently, taking it in. When Beasley finally turned his attention to the defendant, he didn’t introduce himself or waste any time on pleasantries.

“Will you give us your name, please?” Beasley began.

“I’m Donald King,” said the man with the big cigar.

A WEEK EARLIER, IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN PHILADELPHIA, BEASLEY HAD STOOD BEFORE Judge Norma L. Shapiro to outline his case against Don King. Beasley charged that King had conspired to manipulate the ratings of the WBA to twice deprive Beasley’s client, a not-so-famous boxer named Orlin “Night Train” Norris, of a heavyweight title fight, and a chance to earn millions.

“It is our position that Don King, in conjunction with the WBA, controls the ratings,” Beasley told the judge. “And we can show this factually, without any dispute, showing the way that those ratings were manipulated. Therefore, Norris has been injured.”

Beasley was a novice in the treacherous world of professional boxing. He had taken the case as a favor to Scott Woodworth, Norris’s manager, and the son of Beasley’s favorite cousin, Walter Woodworth. So Beasley was going after the reigning godfather of the fight game, a wily ex-con the feds had tried to bring down but couldn’t.

Back in his younger days when he was a gambler, Don King had served nearly four years in prison for killing a man who owed him $600. Compared to manslaughter, manipulating the WBA rankings was hardly a crime, but King had hired several lawyers to say he had nothing to do with what happened to Norris.

Before the case was over, however, Beasley would not only use the courts to bend Don King to his will, but also the entire World Boxing Association.

Beasley’s associate, Michael Smerconish, took the floor, introducing two color flow charts to show Judge Shapiro how the WBA heavyweight fighter ratings had been tampered with. The charts showed that during a 14-month period from February 1996 to March 1997, Orlin Norris had taken “a tumble” in the ratings, despite winning four straight fights.

Norris’ real problem was outside the ring, Smerconish said, when he signed Scott Woodworth as his manager and dropped Don King as his promoter. There was a price to pay for disrespecting the Don.

In February 1996, Norris was the No. 2 ranked heavyweight contender in the WBA. According to WBA rules, if the No. 1 spot became vacant, Norris should have moved up and been given a title bout, Smerconish said. But on two occasions during the next 14 months, while Norris was still ranked No. 2, the No. 1 spot became vacant, but Norris never moved up, and he never got that title fight.

Instead, while going 4-0 in the ring, Norris actually dropped in the WBA rankings, falling from the No. 2 contender in February 1996 to the No. 6 contender by March 1997.

Five of the seven fighters who passed Norris in the WBA ratings during this 14-month period didn’t even have to climb in the ring. They included Evander Holyfield, who’d been inactive for five months, and “Iron Mike” Tyson, who’d been in jail for three years. Other fighters who leaped over Norris included Tony Tucker, a fighter Norris had beaten the previous year.

And what did Holyfield, Tyson and Tucker have in common? Their promoter was Don King. It was all part of a conspiracy, Beasley and Smerconish contended in their complaint, “in furtherance of Don King’s personal vendetta” against Woodworth and Norris pursued for King’s “own financial gain.”

To show how serious they were, Beasley and Smerconish asked Judge Shapiro for a temporary restraining order to halt next month’s scheduled heavyweight title bout rematch in Las Vegas between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

Smerconish contended it should have been Norris in the ring with Tyson during the previous title fight, not Holyfield. And that the WBA should not be allowed to stage another heavyweight title fight without first giving Norris his shot at the crown.

Night Train Norris was no big deal to Don King, but the Tyson-Holyfield rematch certainly was. Holyfield was the upset winner of the first fight with Tyson. The rematch was scheduled to earn a $45 million payday for Holyfield and $30 million for Tyson, Binns told the judge. Binns, who represented the WBA, looked over at Beasley. “I can remember when it used to take Mr. Beasley the first four months of the year to make $40 million,” Binns cracked.

But the big winner of Holyfield-Tyson II was already clear – Don King. King owned the exclusive rights, both foreign and domestic, to promote and broadcast the fight, and those rights were worth about $100 million, Binns told the judge. And Beasley was asking the judge to stop a fight that was going to put $100 million in Don King’s pocket.

The judge wasn’t much of a boxing fan. “People watch boxing to be entertained and to get some kind of emotional satisfaction about seeing some people hurt other people,” she said dismissively.

Judge Shapiro was ready to rule. She denied a motion by King’s lawyers to dismiss Norris’ suit. She also postponed a ruling on Beasley’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the Tyson-Holyfield rematch until a second hearing could be held later in the month. So as the lawyers filed out of Judge Shapiro’s courtroom, Beasley’s challenge to Don King’s boxing empire was still alive.


  1. Binns, because it featured “a dogged pursuer” stalking “a great evader.” But Binns, a former boxer himself, was not as impressed with Beasley’s client. Night Train Norris was a “dogmeat fighter,” Binns said, who had padded his record with several bouts against unranked fighters. And Binns the lawyer thought even less of Norris’ legal case.

Don King had signed an affidavit saying he had never spoken to anybody in the WBA about dropping Norris in the rankings. So as far as King, Binns and the WBA were concerned, Beasley’s allegations about King orchestrating a conspiracy against Night Train Norris remained unproven. But that didn’t matter to Judge Shapiro, who gave Beasley another hearing to argue for a halt to the Tyson-Holyfield rematch.

“Jim Beasley had this capacity to make chicken salad out of chicken shit,” Binns marveled. “Beasley could work miracles, and this was one miracle that he worked, second only to the loaves and fishes.”

Binns was a colorful character himself; a flashy dresser who appeared in a couple of Rocky movies. He showed up at the King deposition wearing a lime Versace suit, with yellow socks and glasses. Binns, however, conceded he was upstaged by Beasley’s ability to rankle King and his lawyers.

During a break at King’s deposition, Nina M. Gussack, King’s defense lawyer, complained to Binns that it was time for Beasley to “stop making nice” with Binns and “start making nice” with Don King.

Binns gave Gussack some advice. “I don’t know how well you know Jim Beasley,” Binns said, “but he doesn’t give a fuck about you or your client.” Gussack just sat there, Binns recalled, “looking like I hit her in the forehead with a two-by-four.”


Woodworth, who had worked for King until he filed his lawsuit, was seated at King’s conference table, next to Night Train Norris.

Beasley’s lawsuit charged that King had conspired to cheat Norris out of a heavyweight title fight against Iron Mike Tyson. And that King had pressured Norris to take a lesser bout, with Oliver McCall, a lower-ranked opponent Norris had already beaten.

“On or about April the 20th, 1996,” Beasley began, “do you recall making a statement to Scott Woodworth to the effect that if Orlin Norris did not agree to fight Oliver McCall for the sum of $75,000, that they [Woodworth and Norris] ‘could go about [their] business and in a couple of months we’ll see where Orlin Norris is in the ratings. It might take a month or two, but he will disappear.’ Do you recall making that statement?”

“No,” King said.

“…Did you and Scott enter into any type of contract with Orlin Norris to fight McCall?” Beasley asked. The contract between Norris and McCall was one of the documents Beasley had requested the defense to produce, documents the defense lawyers said did not exist.

“Not to my knowledge,” King replied. “…He [Woodworth] would say Orlin would fight anyone. So I said, ‘OK, let’s do this’…So let him fight this guy, let him fight that guy…”

“Do I understand you’re telling me there was a contract then?” Beasley asked.

“I don’t know about no contract,” King said.

Beasley was pulling one of his favorite courtroom maneuvers, leading a witness down a path of no return. And King was playing right along.

“Did Scott or Norris send you a signed contract agreeing to fight McCall?” Beasley asked.

“Not to my knowledge,” King said. Without the contract, King seemed safe; it was just one man’s word against another.

“Was there ever any arrangements made with any boxing association for McCall and Norris to fight?” Beasley asked.

“No,” King said.

Beasley asked King about Dana Jamison, King’s vice president of boxing operations: “Well, with this Jamison, would she have anything to do with arranging with the boxing authorities to do it?”

“No,” King said.

King had just issued five denials about whether there had ever been a contract for Norris to fight McCall. Now the boxing promoter sat and watched as Scott Woodworth, a former paralegal for Beasley, slid a folder across the conference table to his “Uncle Jim.”

Beasley flipped through the documents and told the court reporter, “Mark these please” as exhibits. Then he handed the documents to King. “Let me show you what’s been marked as P-2, and tell me whose signature is on that page and what it refers to.”

King’s mouth opened, his eyes widened, and his long Cohiba cigar dangled precariously on his lower lip. “This is a signature of Dana Jamison,” King said.

“What does that letter represent to you?” Beasley asked.

“This letter represents to me that she is sending a contract to Orlin Norris to get signed for a proposed fight.”

“And this proposed fight was supposed to take place May 18, 1996, according to this letter?” Beasley asked.

King’s defense lawyer interjected, asking to see the documents.

“It’s a proposed fight,” King repeated. He seemed stunned by the contract’s sudden appearance. Then King put it all together and shot Woodworth a look that Woodworth described as a “rattlesnake smile.”

Yes, there were only three original copies of the proposed contract for the McCall-Norris fight that would substantiate the allegations against King. And all three contracts were once kept under lock and key in King’s office.

But Woodworth had had the good sense before he made his allegations public, to catch a red-eye flight to Florida, use his company key to slip into Don King’s office, search the files and make a copy of that contract before it could disappear.

Beasley asked King about Frank Warren, a European promoter who represented Norris. “Do you remember telling Scott on that same call to get rid of Frank Warren, and we can do something with Norris?”

“No,” King said.

Do you deny saying that to Woodworth? Beasley asked.

“I would have to say that I don’t recall it, and so I couldn’t put a reference to the

– you know, denying this or denying that in a conversation with Scott,” said an irritated King. “It’s according to whether Scott was sober or whether he was drunk. And so you have to be able to deal with what Scott you’re dealing with.”

“Whether he was drunk or sober, I’m asking you, did you not have a conversation . . . ,” Beasley began, before King cut him off. “I’m telling you -” King snarled, but Beasley cut him off again.

“Let me finish my question,” Beasley barked, reasserting control. “Whether Scott was drunk or sober I’m asking you -” he said, before pausing in mid-sentence.

Beasley, an old tennis player, always enjoyed turning an opponent’s volley against him. “Well,” Beasley said, eyeballing King, “Let me ask you, were you drunk or sober during that conversation?”

“No,” said a startled King, who suddenly recalled something about his conversation with Woodworth, a conversation King had previously not been able to remember. “He woke me up.”

Beasley pressed the advantage: “Now, do you remember telling Scott Wood-worth, whether Scott was drunk or sober, to get rid of Frank Warren, and we can do something with Norris?”

“No, I don’t,” King said.

“Are you denying that statement?”

“Well, I just answered you,” King said. “I said no, I don’t. And that statement goes for – whatever it is. No, I don’t.”

“Let me ask you, you don’t remember saying it?”

“I don’t remember saying it,” King said.

“But my question is, do you deny it?”

“I don’t remember saying it,” King said. “So there is nothing to deny.”

“You can’t say whether it occurred or not?”

“I wouldn’t recall saying – I’m answering hypotheses,” King said. “I don’t remember it, so I can’t go any further than that.”

BEASLEY WAS TRYING TO SHOW THAT THE WBA IGNORED ITS OWN RULES WHEN IT WAS convenient: “And do they have a rule in [the] WBA that if you’re inactive for more than six months, they can drop you out of the ratings?”

“I believe so,” King said.

“How long was Mike Tyson in jail?” Beasley asked.

“Mike Tyson was in jail, I believe, three years,” King said.

“. . . Would it be fair to say that… he had been inactive for three years?” Beasley asked.

“Yes,” King said.

“When he got out of jail, what was his rating?”

“His rating was No. 1,” King said.

Meanwhile, Norris, who had won four straight fights in less than a year, had dropped in the ratings, from the No. 2 challenger to the No. 6 challenger.

“Do you know why?” Beasley asked.

“No,” King said.

“Did you have anything to do with that?”

“No,” King said.

“Are you saying that you had nothing to do with that?” Beasley asked.

“I’m not the WBA ratings,” King said indignantly.

“I didn’t ask you that question,” Beasley said. “I’m asking you whether you had anything to do with it?”

“I told you no,” King shot back. “But you keep asking me the same thing over and over. I told you no.”

“You never talked to anybody at the WBA that persuaded those folks that Norris ought to drop off in the ratings?”

“No,” King said.

Beasley switched subjects, inquiring about King’s reputation for buying expensive dinners for WBA officials. If King wouldn’t admit to controlling the WBA ratings, Beasley aimed to expose King’s cozy relationship with WBA officials.

“Well, occasionally I help out in any way I can with the conventions of the organizations or the drug preventive programs,” King said modestly.

“Will you translate your contributions to the dinners into dollars, please?” Beasley asked.

“…I can’t give you an approximation,” King protested. “Whatever the dinner costs, that’s what I pay for.”

“More than $100?” Beasley suggested.

“Mr. Beasley,” King said, “you can’t get a dinner for $100.”

“Well, I’m a light eater,” Beasley said. “More than $10,000?”

“Whatever the dinner costs, whatever it is, I pay for it,” King said.

Beasley asked about a $100,000 dinner, and King didn’t even blink. “Whatever the dinner costs, Mr. Beasley.”

When Beasley raised the price tag to a $200,000 dinner, King’s lawyer objected, saying that King had already answered the question.

Beasley seemed annoyed that a bit player at the table had spoken out of turn. “Will you please just stop making your speaking objections?” Beasley said, before telling King’s lawyer to “just be quiet.”

But King’s lawyer continued to object as Beasley raised the price for dinner even higher. “Well, have you contributed $300,000 to the WBA?” Beasley asked, before throwing King a bone. “You’re noted for your generosity.”

King stared at Beasley. “I like you,” he said. “No.”

BEASLEY’S ATTEMPT TO STOP THE HOLYFIELD-TYSON REMATCH WAS REARGUED ON JUNE 16, 1997, less than two weeks before the big fight. Judge Shapiro’s courtroom in the Federal Courthouse was crowded with legal combatants, including Don King, and lawyers representing three fighters – Tyson, Holyfield, and another challenger, Michael Moorer – as well as Showtime and Viacom. All the lawyers and parties in the case were referred to Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Melinson for mediation.

“While I always maintain the strictest confidentiality regarding mediations, the Norris case is the sole exception,” Judge Melinson said in an interview. “Everything was made public by the parties themselves. . . . Hence, there never was any confidentiality.”

Judge Melinson’s style was to isolate the warring parties at different locations, like suspects in a criminal case, and question them separately. He also refused to let anybody out until a deal had been struck to give Norris his title bout. None of the defendants cared about Night Train Norris, but hanging over all of their heads was the fate of the Holyfield-Tyson rematch.

Judge Melinson set up the plaintiffs and the various defendants – King, the WBA, Showtime and Viacom – in separate rooms on four floors of the Federal Courthouse. The judge also found extra rooms for lawyers intervening on behalf of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, as well as Michael Moorer, who wanted a rematch with Holyfield, if he got past Tyson.

The judge picked former jury rooms with no windows, rooms that were in such bad condition that they were no longer in use. Some, like the room Don King found himself stuck in for a day, had uncontrollable ceiling air conditioners going full blast. When the judge made the first of eight visits to King’s room, he found that somebody had stuffed paper towels into the air vents, trying to warm the room to summer temperatures.

“They were all celebrities, and they were all used to their entourages, and the comforts and conveniences,” Judge Melinson recalled. The judge said his philosophy with celebrities was,”If you don’t treat them like celebrities, they finally come around and get real.”

No one but King and his lawyer were permitted in that freezing cold jury room for the entire day. No cell phones were allowed, and nobody in any of the rooms had any idea where anybody else was, or what was going on.

King, dressed in a gray suit and dripping with jewelry, had been ignored for hours when the judge visited him for the first time. The boxing promoter was happy to see the judge, and even attempted to flatter him, prompting the judge to warn King’s lawyer to rein in his client. The judge then left the room, leaving King to ponder his predicament for a few more hours.

In trying to force a settlement, Judge Melinson had a wonderful ally in Jim Beasley. “Jim’s so self-confident,” Judge Melinson recalled. “He always says he’s gonna win. People who don’t know him are really fearful of him.” And whether they were in public or private, the judge said, Beasley “never deviated from the party line.”

“I don’t want to settle; why do I want to settle?” the judge quoted Beasley. “I’m gonna win.”

“Jim,” Judge Melinson told him. “It’s just me. You don’t have to be saying that.”

For the judge, engaging in shuttle diplomacy, Beasley’s posturing was useful bait. “It enables me in the caucuses with the defendants to say, ‘You’ve got Jim Beasley on the other side. You’ve got to think about what you were doing.’

“The key to the whole settlement was Jim Beasley,” Melinson said. “They knew they were up against a determined lawyer who was not going to back down, and they didn’t want to see the light of day with discovery, where other things would come out. It put more pressure on them.”

With mediation, judges often deal with reluctant types like King who have the power to do something, but don’t want to do it for “reasons of the flood gates,” Judge Melinson said. The reasoning was, if King did this for Norris, he might have to do it for others.

“I kind of convinced him this is unique, this is Jim Beasley,” Judge Melinson recalled. “It took all day. I was running from room to room. At the end of the day, a certain boredom and ennui sets in.”

King also got tired of being held hostage. “He was very cordial, he had a very winning personality, and he was very determined to get his own way,” the judge said, “But eventually he became a realist.”

As for Norris, Judge Melinson thought the boxer had a lot of heart, but he doubted his physical abilities. “He looks too small,” the judge recalled thinking to himself. But the boxer was “very fortunate” to have a relative of Beasley’s as his manager, the judge said, because “there was no case without Jim Beasley.”

THE LAWYERS IN THE CASE, AS WELL AS THEIR CLIENTS, WERE FINALLY LET OUT OF THEIR cages and summoned to Judge Shapiro’s courtroom. When Judge Shapiro mentioned that, in her view, the parties had had ample time to settle the dispute, Binns interjected, “If by that you mean, Judge, that we were deprived of lunch, and communications with the outside, and behind a closed door, yes, we had sufficient time to consider everything Judge Melinson suggested.”

“This is the agreement,” Judge Melinson announced to Judge Shapiro: “Norris shall fight the winner of the [Franz] Botha- [Lee] Gilbert fight within six months of that fight. The winner cannot risk the WBA-NA [North America] title until he fights Norris; the winner cannot fight for the world championship WBA until he fights Norris. The purse for Norris is $50,000. Norris’ present promoter waives all rights in this matter. The fight will be promoted by Don King Promotions.”

In return for the guarantee of a title fight for Norris, Beasley agreed to withdraw his challenge to the Holyfield-Tyson rematch in Las Vegas.

Don King told Judge Shapiro there were still a few details to be taken care of. “Your Honor, I can assure that they will fight, but the WBA has to make the decree that says that the fight will take place. So we have Mr. Norris’ agreement to fight, what he’s going to fight for, I have to negotiate a purse for Mr. Botha.”

When the judge asked how much it would cost to get Botha, one of the WBA’s top contenders, to fight Norris, King replied the purse had to be negotiated but, “Mr. Botha is not an unreasonable man.”

BOTHA TURNED OUT TO BE UNREASONABLE. KING’S BID FOR BOTHA TO FIGHT NORRIS went as high as $450,000, but Botha turned it down, demanding $1 million. When the Holyfield-Tyson rematch went off as scheduled (Holyfield won again), and Don King failed to come up with an opponent for Norris, Beasley went back to court to file a motion to enforce the original settlement.

This time, instead of proposing that the judge shut down the next title fight, Beasley raised the stakes, asking the judge to shut down the entire WBA and put Don King out of business.

On Sept. 30, 1997, Judge Shapiro issued a Rule to Show Cause why the court should not “enjoin the WBA from sanctioning or sponsoring any boxing matches, and Don King from promoting any boxing matches after Dec. 21, 1997,” because the previous agreement to arrange a title bout for Norris had not been complied with. The court also found that King had “negligently or intentionally misrepresented his ability to convince Botha to fight Norris.”

On Oct. 15, 1997, Judge Shapiro, whom Binns dubbed “the czarina of boxing,” held yet another hearing. All parties agreed that the WBA would canvas the top 12-ranked fighters in the heavyweight division, to see who would be available to fight Norris in the next five weeks before Dec. 21, 1997.

The only fighter the WBA could round up to take on the 5-foot-11 Norris was the lowest-ranked heavyweight contender, Henry Akinwande, a 6-foot-7 left-hander from Nigeria. The judge’s order not only mandated a match between Norris and Akinwande by Dec. 21, 1997; it also mandated a title bout between the winner of the Akinwande-Norris fight and heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield by no later than June 28, 1998.

So if he got past Akinwande, Norris would finally get a heavyweight title fight. The Akinwande-Norris bout was scheduled for Dec. 13, 1997, at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater in Pompano Beach, Fla.

“It’s not only a victory for Norris – it’s a victory for boxing,” Beasley told the Legal Intelligencer about his upset win over Don King. “The order is probably going to do more to clean up boxing than anything that’s been tried so far.”

Beasley said he hoped the judge’s order would show other fighters the value of going to court. King “may be able to control boxing,” Beasley told the newspaper, “but he can’t control the courts.”

THE BATTLE SHIFTED FROM THE COURTS TO THE BOXING RING. ALL THE LAWYERS IN THE case flew down to Pompano Beach to watch the fight, and they all ended up staying at the same hotel. Norris, a former cruiserweight champ who had to bulk up to crash the heavyweight division, was one win away from a heavyweight title fight. All he had to do was get past Henry Akinwande, the 12th-ranked heavyweight contender.

Jimmy Binns watched the fight with Jim Beasley. Just before the bell sounded for Round 1, Binns leaned over and told Beasley, “Here’s where the rubber meets the road.”

The stands were filled with cops and lawyers. Since Don King was under yet another federal investigation, the place was also teeming with FBI agents, many of whom were ringside.

After all the legal sparring Beasley went through to get Norris a chance in the ring, the actual fight was a letdown. Akinwande, using what one ringside commentator said were “spearing left jabs,” scored a unanimous 12-round decision over Norris.

Binns, a former welterweight, compared the 6-foot-7 Akinwande to a “fighting giraffe,” and said that Norris did little more than absorb punches. “The whole fight was a yawn,” Binns said. All three boxing judges awarded every round to Akinwande. “The kid lost every round on every card,” Binns said of Night Train Norris. “That’s hard to do. He lost 36 rounds.”

An embarrassed Beasley told Binns he had never been so disappointed in a sporting event. “It was a very devastating loss,” Woodworth agreed. “Had we won that fight, they’d still be talking about it.”

Akinwande took over the No. 1 heavyweight ranking after the fight, earning a title bout against heavyweight champ Holyfield, but the match had to be called off after Akinwande flunked his physical, testing positive for hepatitis. As for Night Train Norris, he wound up with nothing, and so did his lawyer.

The night Norris lost the fight in Pompano Beach, several lawyers in the case, including Binns and Beasley, went out for a steak dinner, then filtered back to their hotel. Beasley was walking through the lobby with Smerconish and Jim Beasley Jr. when he spotted Don King, another hotel guest.

“Hey, Beasley,” King yelled from across the lobby. King strutted over and grabbed Beasley’s outstretched hand with his two oversized mitts. “You,” King said with a big smile on his face, “are one fightin’ motherfucker.”

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