Like a lot of American pugilists of the 1960s, Howard King wasn't always in the fight game for a living. At one time, you might have found him humping hod-loads of bricks onto building sites in Texas, where, the book says, he was born. Or he may have been the cinder-under-the-door voice that implored from the doorway of a Reno side-walk, "Shine your shoes, Sir?"
The again, he could have been the big guy who was putting a severe strain on the seams of that whiter-than-white, ordinary-size barman's coat in L.A., and shoving a huge fistfulk of beer-glass your way while the fight talk revolved around Corbett, Dempsey and Tunney, Ketchel and Walker. And, nearer to his heart, "Honeyboy"--as the American patrons of the art know him--might well have been the character who rubbed the shiny, ivory dice between sweating palms and rolled them out as if they were the geatest invention since the wheel.
Yes, Howard King, father of three fine kids, (1962), has been all these. Hod-carrier, shoe-shine boy, bar-keep, scrap-shooter and, Oh! Not to forget to mention it (seems so mundane) railway platelayer.
But Howie came to fight on this fine Lawrence Lewis bill as the heavyweight who could throw a King-size spanner into the works of local idol Brian London. And King had a habit of doing just that. Like the Dick Richardson joust in London, September 1961. It certainly didn't have the purists screaming for more. But King won.
To probe a bit deeper into the record of this lay-preacher from Reno, Nevada. Back in 1952 he kicked off his professional career as if there was no tomorrow. From August of that year up to the end of 1953, King had 19 pay-nights. There was just one blot - a one-round K.O. in San Francisco at the hands of a slugger named J. Cartwright, (Jimmy), No one ever seemed to get around to asking his first name. In that early onslaught on the reward that professional pugilism has to offer, King's opposition was, as Archie Moore would say, mostly a guy called Joe.
But King moved up a class at a time, and after tangeling with the likes of Zora Folley and Eddie Machen, Roger Rscher for the California State Heavyweight Title, eventually had the first of a series of business meetings with the aforementioned Mr. Moore that reads like a serialation by Budd Schulberg. That was in February 1956 - a points decision for the Ageless One. Same thing happened the following month. Then, in May 1958, King became the only man in history to pick Moore for his opponent three times in a row - and survive each time (two points defeats and a draw.
So in five ten-rounders with the former world lightheavy king, Howie went the full 50 sessions! And 150 minutes on the business side of the ropes with the man whose marathon record reads as if K and O were the only letters in the alphabet is something to shout about. Moore finally tagged King, in May 1962. It was a first-round knockout. But hundreds of other fighters belong to that club. It's almost an honour to be a member.
From: Howard Both ("Daily Mirror") for the King-London official program as edited.
Brian London stopped Howard King in six rounds and King finished his career with a handful of cheap prelim fights, the last a points loss to Roy Crear in 1964.