DON KING IN RING WITH POPE
March 14, 2007 -- WE hope someone is videotaping when high-haired boxing promoter Don King has an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on March 21.
King, who wore a floor-length white mink coat to President Ronald Reagan's first inauguration, is a larger-than-life character who started out in Cleveland, Ohio, as a numbers racketeer who was accused of killing two men. The first incident was deemed self-defense, but the second was manslaughter - which got King four years in prison.
"I am standing in the need of prayer," King told Page Six yesterday from Paris. "I'm going to ask the pontiff to pray for all of us. He has a direct line to the man who sits high, looks low and keeps his eye on the sparrow." That "man" would be Jesus, King informed us.
While King is a Baptist, not a Roman Catholic, the ecumenical entrepreneur doesn't believe there should be any quibbling between denominations. "The thing is, we're all going before the man on high on Judgment Day."
Quoting Isaiah, King said, "Let justice roll down like water, and righteousness flow like a mighty stream."
The papal meeting came about through Luca Messi, a super-middleweight King put in a big fight in Chicago two years ago. Unfortunately, Messi lost. "I'm going to try and help him again," King vowed. But Messi has a brother who is a priest and who agreed to set up an audience with the pope.
King is in Paris promoting Saturday's sold-out rematch of last year's dramatic slugfest at Madison Square Garden between O'Neil Bell and Jean-Marc Mormeck. Then, King will be honored at a festival in Bergamo, Italy, the Messi brothers' hometown, before his pilgrimage to Rome.
King, who often wears crazy clothes and waves Old Glory, owns three large, diamond-encrusted crucifixes - "for the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost." But asked what he'll wear to his meeting with Benedict XVI, King humbly replied, "I'll see what the protocol is."
The bombastic orator seems prepared to play second fiddle to His Holiness and pay every respect to the Vicar of Christ. "I am going to ask the pontiff for world peace. I will be prepared to kiss his ring."