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Tyson clearly misses Jacobs. But, though Cayton is the last remaining link with Jacobs and Cus D'Amato, Tyson's late trainer, mentor and surrogate father, Tyson seldom passes up an opportunity to insult the man who oversees his finances. Cayton's troubles began when Tyson married Givens. "She and her mother [Ruth Roper) poisoned his mind against me," Cayton has said. At Roper's insistence, and with Donald Trump chiming in as Tyson's much-ballyhooed (mostly by Trump himself) "adviser," Cayton agreed to have his share of Tyson's purses reduced from one third, the going rate for boxing managers, to 20%, and his take of the champion's outside endorsements cut even more drastically. Trump claimed last week that Tyson owes him $2 million, to be paid to charity, for helping to rework the contract with Cayton. Recently Cayton said that Givens called to apologize to him for the things she had said about him. According to Cayton, Givens indicated that everything she said about him was based on lies told her by King.
"I think Don has sold black to Tyson," says Larry Holmes, the former heavyweight champion who had a love-hate relationship with King when King was his promoter. Cayton is white, 70, well-educated. King is 57, black, an ex-convict, and from the streets. It's no contest. Thrust by his own celebrity into a world he sometimes has difficulty adjusting to, Tyson may need a father figure more than he needs a manager; he's simply not comfortable with Cayton. To him, Cayton, with his reserved, almost formal manner, is a swim in an icy pond in December; the boisterous King is Saturday night in a honky-tonk.
Fortunately, despite reports that King had been granted free access to Tyson's many millions, Tyson's money remains under Tyson's control. King's limited power of attorney appears to be very limited; in fact, it seems to carry so little legal weight that it may constitute no more than an attempt by King to further cement his relationship with the champion. Under the terms of the three-page document, King isn't empowered to make deals or to sign anything on Tyson's behalf. Curiously, in one clause Tyson acknowledges that Cayton is his manager but at the same time states, "I expect him [King] to promote [my] future fights." Is Tyson implying that he wants Cayton not to seek the best deal—a manager's primary responsibility—but to take whatever King has to offer?
Another provision of the power-of-attorney designation says that King "shall be liable only for willful default, and not for errors of judgment." Which means if King screws up, he can be held legally liable only if it can be proved that he committed fraud. It is fortunate for Tyson that the power of attorney can be withdrawn with the stroke of a pen, because King's past activities don't inspire confidence that he always has the fighter's best interest at heart.
First there was the 900 Number Debacle. Before Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in Atlantic City, King talked Tyson into getting involved in something called the Don King Telephone Network, which was in direct conflict with the many closed-circuit and pay-per-view TV contracts that had been signed for that fight.
King's plan was to set up a 900 number that callers could dial for a live, blow-by-blow report of the fight, for $3.40 a round. Tyson was to receive about $50,000—a pittance considering that Tyson's gross purse for the fight was $20 million. King worked out the 900-number scheme as part of a 10-year deal with Robert H. Lorsch, the president of Teleline, a Beverly Hills, Calif., based entertainment company. Teleline operates 900-number lines offering messages featuring such characters as Mighty Mouse and the Smurfs.
"Everyone was excited about the idea," says Lorsch. The number was to be 1-900-909-KING. "Don was to deliver Mike Tyson and told us he could. Based on his representation, we went out and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the event. Then the rights never materialized. When the crunch came, things started to unravel."
The deal was squelched by Cayton, who learned of it when the telephone people arrived in Atlantic City to set up their equipment. He called King and told him that the phone hookup was in conflict with every television contract they had. "You and Mike will be sued by all 40 of the closed-circuit and pay-per-view people for millions of dollars if this goes on," Cayton told him. King agreed to cancel the 900 number.
According to a party to the subsequent negotiations, King wrote Lorsch a letter attempting to call off the deal. The source says that Lorsch replied, "That's interesting, but we are going ahead with it." Cayton hired David E. Wood, a Los Angeles lawyer, who persuaded Lorsch to drop the blow-by-blow broadcast in favor of a 900-number call-in-your-pre-diction contest plus recorded messages from Tyson.
"Representations made to us about Don King's ability to produce the rights turned out to be false," says Lorsch. "We ended up backpedaling to protect our investment. Don King is a unique entrepreneur. I believe his heart is in the right place, but often his enthusiasm leaves innocent parties in problem situations."