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Don King Gives Talk At HLS

Boxing Promoter Urges Crowd To End Racism


Flamboyant boxing promoter Don King yesterday credited the U.S. Constitution for his success and urged Harvard Law School students to "make a difference" in doing away with racism.

"Many say you can't legislate attitudes, but you can legislate behavior," King told an audience of about 250.

He said racism has held black people back, but the Constitution has allowed him to go forward.

"You've got to accept America with the bitter and the sweet," he said. "America is the greatest country in the world."

"Be sympathetic and empathetic with the downtrodden and the poor," he urged the future lawyers. "But at the same time, you have to make money," he said to laughter.

King's appearance at Harvard Law School was somewhat ironic because of his entanglements within the justice system during his colorful lifetime.

Last November, jurors split down the middle trying to decide his fate after he was charged with faking a contract to collect $350,000 in nonexistent training expenses for a canceled bout.

The case was declared a mistrial. Although federal prosecutors said King would be retried, nothing has happened since.

King, who testified he had nothing to do with the altered contract, had faced up to 45 years in federal prison and a $2.25 million fine if convicted of nine counts of wire fraud.

He alluded to his legal troubles in his hourlong talk.

"I've been in more courtrooms than any of you," he said with a smile.

The failure to convict King further burnished his "Teflon Don" image, which shines after two killings, two federal trials and three grand jury investigations.

King's legal troubles began as a Cleveland numbers runner. In 1954, he killed a man who was robbing one of his gambling houses. He was cleared when the slaving was ruled self-defense.

Thirteen years later, he was convicted of beating a man to death over an unpaid $600 debt. He served three years and 11 months in prison, and was pardoned after his release by then-Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes.

King told the students he's always been fascinated with the law. "It's like an evolving, living organism," he said.

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