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FROM HAIR TO ETERNITY
Franz Lidz
December 10, 1990
YOU CAN'T BECOME A SPORTS IMMORTAL, SAYS DON KING, WITHOUT FOLLICLES OF FABULOUS FECUNDITY
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December 10, 1990

From Hair To Eternity

YOU CAN'T BECOME A SPORTS IMMORTAL, SAYS DON KING, WITHOUT FOLLICLES OF FABULOUS FECUNDITY

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SI: Are most boxers aware of the power of hair?

King: The sad commentary is that most of them are not. They see hair as a nuisance. They clip it off and toss it away like confetti. Unless you grasp the significance of hair, you cannot know the power instilled in it.

SI: How tight is Tyson's grasp on hair?

King: He looks at mine and laughs at me. I look at his and laugh at him. He says, "Whaddya laughin' at?" I say, "I'm laughin' because you talk about all the hair on your head when you hardly got no hair on that head." So you see, this brings a repartee and a rejoinder. Through hair, we've got something to banter about, and I can tell him what significance my hair has vis-a-vis his has in significance. Tyson's hair really only becomes a critical factor in training. His opponents become afeared when they see hair budding on his face and under his chin. It tells a talc without him having to open his mouth.

SI: When Tyson lost to Buster Douglas, was his hair unmanageable or just mismanaged?

King: I don't think hair had nothing to do with it. It would only have been a complement. Basically and fundamentally, it was the icing on the cake.

SI: What happens to prizefighters who shave their heads?

King: That great book of parables, the Bible, tells us that if your right eye offends thee, pluck it out. If your right arm offends thee, cut it off. It is far better to lose a part of the body than the whole body. One asks how a blind man can live while unable to see the lilies of the valley, the flowers, the rivers and the flowings. But the body has ways of substituting, of adjusting. Take Marvelous Marvin Hagler. When he balded himself, his body became vulnerable and had to compensate. His mind asked, Should we move in another direction and start other mechanisms to generate the same excitement? Yes, said his central nervous system. So Hagler worked that much harder to be the intimidator he was purporting to be. Hairless, Hagler had to rely on brute strength, physical stamina and a mental aggressiveness. He became a champion unknowingly, and perhaps unwittingly.

SI: Can George Foreman win back the heavyweight title without hair?

King: Foreman is 42. If he didn't have his chrome-dome, he'd be gray. So rather than put the coloration and the dye in it and have people perceive him as older than he really is, he cut it off. Sportswriters had been having a field day writing about Old Man Methuselah and how his being in the ring was a threat to his safety. But as he became more formidable with each outing, they dropped the safety angle and viewed him as an incredible resurrection of what they would like themselves to be at that age.

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