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King Says Losing Is Better Than Not Fighting at All

November 22, 1986|RICH TOSCHES | Times Staff Writer

Michael Nunn had won the California middleweight title 45 minutes earlier, and now, inside the Reseda Country Club, the lights were getting dim, the kitchen had long been closed, the ESPN cameras had been wheeled outside and packed away in the giant trucks and the crowd was headed for the doors.

Now, it was time for the King.

"In the blue corner," boomed the voice of ring announcer Michael Buffer, "fighting out of Los Angeles, California, with a professional record of 13, 26 and 5, King David Smith."

King David Smith? And did you say 13-26-5? C'mon. That's not a boxing record. That's a lock combination.

"Most of his losses were hometown decisions," explained trainer Earl McClure.

Hometown decisions? The United States doesn't have that many hometowns.

Smith, whose legal name is indeed King David, has been a professional boxer for 16 years. Now 32, the heavyweight fighter has been a career opponent, sent in against better boxers whose careers were heading up. Smith's career has been sliding downward since his first fight, at age 16.

By the way, he lost that one.

Smith is not a terrible fighter. He is well-conditioned, muscular and quite coordinated. And despite 26 losses prior to Friday night, he has not been a human punching bag. He has never been knocked out.

Smith simply loves boxing. He would probably love it much more if he wasn't always losing, but he loves it nonetheless.

"I got into boxing too early and I fought everybody I should not have been fighting," he said. "But I guess I don't have to tell you that, do I? My record speaks for itself.

"But don't go crying for me. I chose to do this. Boxers are born to box. I was born to box. I'm not the hardest puncher in the world, but I know how to box. People, though, don't want to see a boxer. They want to see the big punchers. They want to see brutality. They want to see people kill each other. That's not my style."

Obviously not, King.

How about that record?

"Records don't mean anything," he said. "Look at Nunn. They've given him every cornflake they could find in the box and called them opponents. Someday he may have to fight someone good, and when you've been up against cornflakes all your life and they move you up to shredded wheat, you can get hurt."

Smith fought Orlin Norris of San Diego on Friday night. Norris handed Smith his 27th loss, winning a four-round decision. Smith earned $800.

He has earned as little as $200 for a fight and was asked if it was worth $200 to climb into a ring against much younger fighters.

"Two hundred bucks doesn't sound like much," he said, "but it's worth climbing into the ring for if you don't have any bucks at the time."

For one fight, in 1977, he was paid $7,000.

"They musta thought I was somebody else," he explained.

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