King files lawsuit against ESPN

Boxing impresario felt pic depicted him in a false light

LAS VEGAS — Boxing promoter Don King sued sports channel ESPN Wednesday over a biography of him that he claimed was defamatory.

Suit, filed in state court in Florida against parent company Walt Disney, ABC Cable Networks and ESPN, alleges the biography of King that aired May 14, 2004, defamed him by intentionally and recklessly portraying the boxing impresario in a false light.

In a press release, King said he is seeking $2.5 billion in damages. At a press conference, King said: “There were a lot of outright falsehoods in that program. I felt this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m going to fight back. I’m going to stand up and fight for my rights.”

Lawsuit claims the program accused King of being “a snake oil salesman, a shameless huckster and worse.” Among 10 statements listed as defamatory were claims that King underpaid Muhammad Ali by $1.2 million and that he “killed not once, but twice.”

King has been involved in lawsuits with several of the fighters he represented, including a suit against him by Mike Tyson and a suit by former middleweight champion Terry Norris. King sued former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis for libel.

King also has beaten federal charges of tax evasion and fraud. He served nearly four years in prison for the 1967 beating death of a man who owed him money. In 1954, he killed a man who was robbing a numbers house he operated in Cleveland, but it was ruled self-defense.

(Wire services contributed to this report.)