When Don King Met The Pope

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - March 28, 2007
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Talk about an unholy union. Not since Michael Corleone bought his way into heavenly grace with a $100 million payoff to Sicilian charities which then paved the way to his receiving the Order of Saint Sebastian have heaven and hades collided so violently. Media packets are available from Father Guido Sarducci in the lobby.

Through hook, crook, payoffs or simply camping out in line as if waiting for tickets to Letterman, boxing promoter Don King got himself a front row seat for a papal drive-by last week.

Call it the Rumble in Rome, Vengeance at the Vatican or Pugnacity at the Apostolic Palace. It’s the pugilist pontiff vs. the Round Mound of Ridiculous Sound. Fifteen rounds of action guaranteed to offer thrills, chills and blessings abound.

Though King had no difficulty skimming from Ali or taking on Mike Tyson’s millions, confronting the Holy Father is quite a another affair. As evident in the 1980s production, Your Arms are too Short to Box with God starring Pattie LaBelle and Al Green, the big guy upstairs has quite the reach and damning power. And King’s footwork ain’t what it used to be. So intimidating an opponent is the Bishop of Rome that King actually tamed down his famously wild locks in an effort to blend in with crowd of thousands waving American and Italian flags while shouting, “Only at the Vatican!” Vegas listed King as a 15,000,000,000,000-to-1 long shot.

Sitting in a special section on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, King was able to hand the pope a green and gold boxing belt, oblivious to the fact that the Vatican colors are white and yellow and that it totally clashed with the pontiff’s traditional Wednesday garb. He also gave the pontiff a letter asking for prayers for the sick, aged and President Bush - after which the man in white was heard quietly uttering, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

King had wanted a private meeting with the pope, but was denied after it was determined that not even the Holy See has enough sacred hydration to wash away those sins. Evidently, things have changed a bit since the Corleone bailed out Archbishop Gilday with $600 million to purchase controlling interest in Immobiliare to cover the bishop’s illegal use of church funds as head of the Vatican Bank.

King, in town to discuss possible boxing matches in Rome involving Italian super welterweight champion Luca Messi (or is it Luca Brasi? - “Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child”), had earlier taken part in a fundraising campaign to restore the St. Mary Major Church in Messi’s hometown of Bergamo. No word on whether King had a garden chat with the unflappable Cardinal Lamberto. It seems that if he can absolve Michael Corleone of ordering a hit on his own brother without so much as a shudder, then forgiving King for his continued, poetic, apoplectic, stupendous, tremendous, vainglorious thrills, chills-to-the bone assault on the English language should be a piece of communion cake.

“I’m a promoter of the people for the people and by the people, and my magic lies in my people ties. I’m a promoter of America. I’m American people. You know what I mean? So therefore, uh, do not send for who the bell tolls ‘cause the bell tolls for thee.” - The gospel according to King.

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