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King Files $2.5B Suit vs. ESPN

1/12/2005 7:53 AM Eastern

Boxing promoter Don King filed a defamation suit against ESPN Wednesday seeking damages of more than $2.5 billion, AP reported.

According to the suit, a May segment of ESPN’s SportsCentury accused King of being "a snake-oil salesman, a shameless huckster and worse"; claimed that he underpaid Muhammad Ali by $1.2 million; and claimed that he “killed not once, but twice,” AP reported.

King was convicted in a 1967 beating death and acquitted in a 1954 killing, according to AP.

"I just felt that this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I can't take it anymore, and I'm going to fight back," King said at a news conference. "I seek justice."

His lawyer, Willie Gary, added that the SportsCentury segment was "a story designed to orchestrate and create an impression that is not there," adding that ESPN refused to retract parts of the program that offended King, according to AP.

AP reported that the suit -- filed in state court in Broward County, Fla. -- named ESPN and parent company The Walt Disney Co. among the defendants, in addition to Disney ABC Cable Networks Group and Florida-based cable and satellite system Advocate Communications.

ESPN vice president of communications Mike Soltys told AP, "We have not seen a copy of the lawsuit, so we are not in a position to comment on it. However, SportsCentury is a Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning series of more than 250 biographies that is widely respected for its journalistic quality and integrity."

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