Legendary promoter Don King packed quite a punch during a special visit to troops in Germany and Iraq as part of a USO/MNC-I expeditionary entertainment tour during this Thanksgiving weekend.
King later surprised U.S. forces in Iraq with an unannounced visit and special viewing of the Don King Productions and Main Events co-promoted match featuring “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas vs. Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga boxing event, which was beamed live from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Vargas vs Mayorga was televised live to all troops internationally via Armed Forces Network courtesy of Don King Productions as King has quietly given all of his boxing events to AFN free of charge for decades.
Airing just before the fight, King and the troops he was visiting were included on the American pay-per-view telecast of the event via a live hook-up from Iraq. President George W. Bush also appeared on the telecast, expressing his heartfelt thanks and praise to service men and women serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Immediately following the fight, King mingled and ate lunch with troops in the military dining facility.
“I was supposed to be in Los Angeles to attend my boxing event on the day after Thanksgiving, but there is nothing more important to me than the men and women serving in our great American armed services,” King said. “They are the vanguard of our nation, and when I was invited to visit them in Iraq, it didn’t matter what day it was, I wanted to be there for them.
“My esteemed wife Henrietta could not join me in person for this USO tour but joins me in spirit as we celebrate the great sacrifices that members of our armed forces make in defending our country and the very democracy we are afforded. We are privileged to be Americans.”
Following his USO-sponsored trip to Iraq, Mr. King has planned a three-city stateside base tour and moral booster for the military. He will be joined on this tour titled "We Care" by five-time world champion Felix "Tito" Trinidad and eight-time world champion Roy Jones Jr.
He intends to visit with cadets at West Point Military Academy on Dec. 3; Eglin Air Force Base, Hulbert Field Training Base, and the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida on Dec. 5; and Fort Buchanan and Camp Santiago in Puerto Rico on Dec. 6.
King added: “We want to thank Jim Dolan, his dad Chuck Dolan and mother Helen for supporting our troops and hosting the Trinidad-Jones match "Bring on the Titans" at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19.
A longtime supporter of the U.S. armed forces, King visited the home of the “Screaming Eagles,” the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. During his visit, he was made an Honorary “Screaming Eagle” by then Lieutenant General David Petraeus for his continuous contributions and support that has resulted in a permanent memorial being built.