Tales from the Trail

Boxing promoter King: diverse Bush administration helped pave road for Obama

By Reuters Staff
October 27, 2008

By Ori Lewis

TEL AVIV – The possibility that the United States will vote in a first black president next week is in no small part due to the opportunities President George W. Bush gave to blacks in senior government posts, boxing promoter Don King said on Monday.

King, an erstwhile larger-than-life personality and probably the world’s best known boxing promoter, is in Israel this week to participate in Israeli President Shimon Peres’s Center for Peace’s 10-year anniversary celebrations.

“We had 43 presidents in the United States, he was the 43rd president, 42 of them promised us everything and gave us nothing, both Democrats and Republicans,” King said in an interview with Reuters.

“(Bush formed) the most diverse cabinet of any president in the history of the United States. I know that they are condemning him now … but this man prepared us for a Barack Obama, for the ‘great change,’” King added, naming Bush Cabinet members Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige and Alfonso Jackson as examples.

King said he believed that if Obama had been white “he would win by a landslide”.

“I appeal to (all those) who believe that it is inconceivable that they could ever pull the lever for a black candidate … I think it is America’s time … when you go to the ballot box … imagine that Barack Obama is a white man, then you pull the lever, then tomorrow you make him black again … because it is for the good of the nation and the betterment of the world,” King said.

But after a typically long and eloquent speech during which the 77-year-old did not falter even once as he stared at the camera and brandished a clutch of American and Israeli flags, King said he was not actually endorsing either candidate.

“Let us make history in the making let us go to the polls, let us have two candidates irrespective of their race, color, creed or religion who will be best to serve the people who are the most important … so I’m for America, not for the candidate,” he said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun (King during an interview in Israel.)

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