Don King isn't shocked by what he's seen of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s behavior in the last two weeks. He doesn't like it, and he's not about to condone it, but it didn't come as any great surprise to him.
Nor does the loquacious boxing promoter believe, however, that Mayweather's actions make him a despicable person.
On Sept. 1, Mayweather was best known as arguably the world's finest boxer, an outspoken, trash-talking character who clearly had become the sport's biggest draw. But on Sept. 2, he posted a bizarre, hate-filled rant on uStream.com against rival Manny Pacquiao, which he later apologized for.
As bad as that was, it got far worse a week later, when Josie Harris, his ex-girlfriend and the mother of three of his four children, alleged he assaulted her, stole her mobile telephone and threatened to have her and her new boyfriend "taken care of."
Mayweather was arrested Friday on a grand larceny charge related to Harris' missing telephone. On Monday, Las Vegas police released the report of the incident with Harris. In it, Mayweather's 10-year-old son, Koraun, describes watching his father hitting and kicking his mother. He also told police that a friend of his father's who was at the scene, James McNair, prevented him from leaving the home.
King, who had several well-publicized meetings with Mayweather in the middle of the summer in an attempt to convince the fighter to hire him as his promoter, condemned Mayweather's actions but not the man himself.
He called the rant and the domestic dispute "frustrations of the ghetto expressing themselves," and suggested Mayweather needed to be educated, not jailed.
"He grabbed onto sport to be able to escape," King said. "He's a master in his sport, but that don't make him a Rhodes scholar. He's not erudite in other things. No one can explain him unless they can understand him.
"When you're in the street, the jargon, the vernacular, is altogether different. You have to understand that. In order to bring change about, you need respectability and responsibility. You have to be able to be taught, and this is what Don King would be able to do with him because I understand where he's coming from. If you don't know where you're coming from, you don't know where you are going."
King suggested that a lot of Mayweather's problems stem from being an African-American man in a white-dominated society. He said Mayweather hasn't learned how to successfully work with other people and that he's struggling to deal with his fame and notoriety.
Mayweather's fame has only made the issue worse, King said.
"What you are seeing here are frustrations of the ghetto expressing themselves," King said. "It's nothing that is seriously wrong and it's nothing that isn't commonplace in the ghettos throughout the whole United States, throughout the 'hood. But Floyd, being one who has achieved and accomplished such a great deal, it's personified like he's the second coming."
King said young African-American men often have a difficult time understanding their responsibilities. He said those are lessons he learned long ago and would like to impart to Mayweather.
Being a man means more than just being a world-class boxer, King said.
"He takes one thing from manhood – he can throw a left hook, a right hand and a right cross – and he's superb at that," King said. "But manhood takes more than a left hook, a right hand and a right cross. It takes respect for your elders. It takes respect for women. Your Mama was a woman. We must respect women. There ain't no men dropping babies, least not that I know of. But this is all about education.
"He has sharpened his skills in the talent of fighting. He has become a fighting machine, one of the best in the world. But he didn't sharpen his skills, with no one to tell him, about morality, about being able to deal with people and being able to understand that you are your brother's keeper and that you can do this without being a punk. In the ghetto, they say, if you can't take care of your woman, you ain't nothing. It's a misconstrument of his manly obligations and responsibilities, based upon a guideline that has been here for hundreds of years."
King promoted former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson after Tyson was released from prison after serving three years on a rape conviction. Five of Tyson's first six bouts after his release were on pay-per-view, which averaged an astounding 1.52 million sales.
He had a rocky relationship with Tyson, though, and Tyson eventually sued him, though the two recently reconciled. King said he could help Mayweather iron out his problems and remain the dominant force in boxing because he alone among boxing promoters understands the roots of Mayweather's problems.
"I am one of those who has mastered the situation of working with people," King said. "I never got mad at the white man for what he did to the black man, because I got a PhD in caucasianism and I graduated summa cum laude. The only way you can understand [Mayweather] is to walk in his shoes. When you walk in his shoes, then you're able to bring about change, because it's direly needed. Change is in the air, but you have to pick them up and let them gradually understand that what is happening is wrong and that this is right.
"You're right to condemn his actions, based on your perspective and your education and the life you've lived. … Having fame, acclaim and affluence doesn't mean he's gained the knowledge and understanding of peoplehood. People need each other. You have to have respect for each other. It brings along with that a responsibility to have respect, being able to contain yourself, having discipline, being able to understand that the world is not centered upon you. It is not I, I, I. It is we, us, togetherness. I can bring this knowledge to him, because I have walked in his shoes and been where is."
- Don King