Don King loses defamation appeal

July 8, 2010

A Florida appeals court has upheld a previous ruling that broadcaster ESPN did not defame legendary boxing promoter Don King.

An episode of ‘Sports Century’ shown on the channel included allegations that King cheated a hospital out of money from a benefit fight, owed money to boxer Meldrick Taylor and threatened to have him killed, and convinced doctors to invest in a film on King’s life that was never made.

King subsequently sued ESPN, ABC and Disney for defamation, but the case was dismissed when it was found he failed to present evidence that the network acted with actual malice, a legal requirement when proving defamation.

King appealed the initial decision, saying emails between ESPN producers showed they wanted to portray him as  a “huckster”, a “thug” and an “evil mob-connected guy”.

However, the original ruling was upheld, with Judge Dorian Damoorgian saying in his decision: “Nothing in the record shows that ESPN purposefully made false statements about King in order to bolster the theme of the programme or to inflict harm on King.”