Boxing belt for Benedict
Saying that faith "carries us through", flamboyant boxing promoter Don King, who once managed Muhammad Ali, yesterday presented a green and gold boxing belt to Pope Benedict following the pontiff's General Audience in St Peter's Square.
Associated Press reports that King, who wore a blue suit with his usual high hair style primly flattened for the papal event, also gave the pope a handwritten letter asking for prayers for people ranging from US President George Bush to the world's sick and aged.
"I was thrilled to be there. It was a deep spiritual experience," King told the Associated Press after the two-hour open air audience.
In Rome to discuss the promotion of possible boxing matches in Italy, King had expressed his wish to meet with the pope and ask for prayers.
"Faith is the thing that carries us through," the 75-year-old King said as he walked through St Peter's Square, waving Italian and Vatican flags, and signing autographs.
Alan Hopper, director of public relations for Don King Productions, said the visit to the Vatican was arranged through a boxer who King represents, Italian super welterweight champion Luca Messi, whose brother Alessandro is a Catholic priest.
King was seated in the front row of a special section on the steps of St Peter's Basilica, and was able to hand the pope the gift and the letter as Benedict drove slowly by in an open jeep at the end of the audience.
King, who spent four years in prison for manslaughter, had hoped for a personal meeting with Benedict, but very few non-church people receive private time with the pope during his Wednesday audiences.
Don King gets Vatican 'ringside' seat (Independent Online, 21/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Don King website
Don King (Wikipedia)
22 Mar 2007