Legendary boxing promoter Don King was invited to New York last week by Nike to host a boxing-themed press conference which introduced tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at a media event called “Grapple In The Apple” on the eve of the 2008 U.S. Open tennis tournament. An avid tennis fan, King thinks this juncture of the Nadal vs. Federer rivalry reminds him of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s historic 1974 clash in Kinshasa, Zaire, “The Rumble in the Jungle,” which was won by eighth-round KO by Ali.
“The dubious and the doubt is there about Roger now,” says King. “You’ll automatically say that Rafa should go out there and get him because Rafa is now at the top of his game. But nobody can stop the competitiveness of Roger who would be the Muhammad Ali. So would he do the rope a dope with the tennis racquet? Or will George Foreman come through with that hard, rough, fierce play that’s ambidextrous, that can play left-handed or right-handed? That can punch and can knock holes in walls, like a Tyson? What do you have here. You got that combustion called humanity. People coming together and really motivating and inspiring and you can’t take a breath to go out and get a pop or a soda. You don’t want to miss it.”
As for a potential boxing match between Federer and Nadal, King, who has been producing and promoting championship boxing events for four decades, likes the idea, but isn’t sure who would win. “You know what, that would be exciting. Because you have two such fierce competitors. It would be the one that wants it the most. That would be a battle of the wills, not the skills. The one who wants it the most, who can take the sacrifice and the pain for the gain. The verdict is out on that one. The people would have to wait and see. I will be one of the fans that are sitting there.” –Mark Malinowski