A rainbow of children attend the annual Kids In Trouble, Inc Christmas toy party. Children are not born to hate–racism is taught!
The only thing to top the campaign wins of people of color and women on election night was a little two-year old kid giving free hugs as he was leaving a park. He inspired America and truly gave us hope! This month (November) will mark the 50th wedding anniversary of my wife Hattie and me. We also found Kids In Trouble, Inc. 50 years ago (December). It became our battle cry (save the children). We were able to touch thousands of kids and adults successfully without lying, cheating and stealing. My 1974 interview with Muhammad Ali inspired me to continue to make children first.
Ali pictured at the Cleveland Hospital for sick children with the little folks he loved.
The kid that gave free hugs was a referendum on NFL great Jim Brown’s bold statement to me several years ago, when I said, “We have to do better by our kids because they are our future.” His response, ‘Harold kids don’t vote!’ It was a wake up call for me I was finally seeing the real Jim Brown. His appearance in the Oval office with Kanye West last month was not by accident, he was following the money. The visit came after his bank account had grown from two-million to 50 million dollars. He is now own by the politicians and his past efforts of fighting and standing up for the poor and down-trodden took a big hit on his legacy. The Crips, Bloods and other gangs around the country made note of his appearance at the White House. The brothers in prisons he plans to visit were not fooled and they will be reminding him how he sold out!
Congresswoman and his friend Maxine Waters, track and field great Jackie Joiner Kersey and NFL Coach/Administrator for the Cleveland Browns Mike Holmgren were all right about him hustling the black athlete (aka John Thompson). In 2007 I organized a tribute to my homeboy and friend Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame defensive back Willie Wood. The tribute was held on the Water Front in Georgetown. The goal of the tribute was to raise monies to help pay Willie’s nursing home expenses. He was suffering from dementia and had fallen behind on his bills.
Willie’s lawyer Bob Schmitz a former teammate at the University of Southern California was one of the organizers. He assigned his family to collect the funds being donated at the door. Willie’s Green Bay Packer teammates came out big time, they included, QB Bart Star, RB Paul Hornung, WR Boyd Dowler, and DE Willie Davis. They were joined by players from all over the league, LB Sam Huff, RB Calvin Hill and WR Charlie Taylor (Redskins), WR Lance Alworth ( San Diego Chargers), TE John Mackey (Baltimore Colts), RB Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns) and a host of other players.
The great NFL Hall of Fame LB Sam Huff shows his support for Willie. Sam recently came down with dementia.
The tribute looked like a success. Several days later Willie Wood ask me how much money was raised and where was his money, I told him his lawyer Bob Schmitz and his family had his money. I then tried reaching out to Schmitz for several days without success. My next move was to call Washington Times’ sports columnist Dick Heller a long time friend of Willie’s. He had covered him since his high school days an played an important role in getting him inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989. Dick reached out to Schmitz and got through. He promised Dick he would be holding a press comference in the next several days and would make a report on the $57,000 raised and where the money was being kept.
We waited one week and no press conference. Dick tried reaching out again but Schmitz had disappeared without a trace. I called my ace in the hole Jim Brown and explained the situation to him and he agreed to call Schmitz. I gave Jim the number with the stipulation that I wanted Willie’s sister Gladys to participate in the call since she was family,(street sense and common sense kicked in), Jim agreed.
I waited two days for a follow-up report from Jim and Gladys but there was no call forthcoming. On the third day I decided to call Gladys for an update. Her response was not music to my ears. She said “I was on the call for two minutes when Jim ask me to excuse myself and he would take it from there!”
My next call was to Jim and his response was definitely not music to my ears. After I asked him what were the results of his conversation with Schmitz and why did he dismiss Gladys from the the call! His reponse, was one of foul language use by some of today’s Rappers. First, I thought I had dialed the wrong number and I had got Snoop Dog by mistake. Jim wanted to know why in the F was I questioning him about this BS. He started to use words like, MF, bitches and whores. His rant caught me completely off guard. He hung up on me and I spend the next couple of days trying to figure out what had just happen. I was thinking I should have left him in jail. My best guess, he had made a deal with Schmitz and was given a cut of the money–it fits his Mode of Operation. The $57,000 is still missing.
Jim Brown’s role with the Cleveland Browns had diminished and his excess to the players cut, and contributions to his non-profit Amer-I-Can were dropped from the Cleveland Brown payroll. All this took place after Holmgren took over as team President. Later in a interview hearn on WSKO radio in Syracuse, NY, Jim said, “I am a very sensitive person. I do like to be respected. I’m very loyal. I like it to be a two-way street.” Loyalty is any thing but a two-way street with him–its Jim Brown’s Way or the Highway! Former teammates and friends who really know him will tell you the same thing, but they will request anonimity because he has been known to go into his “Gangster Mode” if you crossed him.
The late Redskin LB Harold McLinton and boxing great Thomas Hearns making children first.
In 1996 I returned a $10,000 check to Don King, he claimed in a letter to me he wrote “Promises Made Promises Kept.” He was referring to a partnership deal he had reneged on relating to my Muhammad Ali project. After telling me he owed me because I was the only one in sports media who vocally and in writing had his back when mainstream media was dragging his name through the mud. He was referring to me writing lionizing commentaries in the Afro-American Newspaper, or I was heard on my Inside Sports radio talk show promoting his fight cards. I was seen on national television defending his rights for a second chance in the work place as the first black boxing promoter. He had served time in jail for killing a man over a number bet. In the meantime, I had to chase him around the country trying to get him to keep his word. He finally got pissed off at me and wrote the check. I returned the check to him as he was hosting one his boxing shows at the DC Armory here the nation’s capitol.
The look of surprise on King’s face as I return his $10,000 pimp check. My younger brother Tyrik who he hired as a photographer took this photo.
Don has always had a very vindicted personality, later that evening I went to the media window at the Armory to pick up my press credentials there were none. He had given instructions to Charlie Brotman to deny me credentials. He hired Brotman to promo the fight card and assign seats at the press table. I was not really surprised he had made it difficult for me aquire credentials at most of his boxing shows and he played a game of hide and seek. He hid in a trailer off site making it difficult for the media to comfront him. The problem, I would not laugh at his jokes unless they were really funny and I would not kiss his ring or his jackass for credentials.
Later that evening during the fight at the Armory I went over to say a few words to a guy I respected highly and considered my big brother. He was legendary R & B vocalist, Lloyd Price. Sitting with Lloyd was another musical giant Kenneth Gamble of Gamble & Huff. The legendary duo out of Philadelphia (Philly Sound). Lloyd was surprise to see and gets up and gives me a big hug. He then introduces me to Kenneth and then he heaps on me all this praise about the great things I was doing in the community and sports media, suddenly he goes completely silent and I follow his eyes into the boxing ring. We both see Don giving us this ice-cold stare from the ring. Lloyd returns to his seat and I walk away. The irony of Don King intimidation stare down, it was Lloyd who was responsible for Don meeting and connecting with Muhammad Ali. He was responsible for the crazy hair-do. I was in Cleveland for the exhibition that Ali fought for Children’s Hospital and this is where the introduction took place.
I had breakfast the following morning after the fight with Don and the late DC sports columnist, J. D. Beathea. J. D. was interviewing him for a story for the Washington Star Newspaper. When the interview was concluded, Don looked at me and said, “Harold Bell stick with me baby we are going places!” The last time I looked he went by himself. Lloyd was responsible for it all, but Don being Don kicked him to the curb, like he did Ali me and hundreds of others he could not buy off. It is often said, “You can take a N out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of him”–meet Don King! King and Lloyd have since kissed and made up. I am still on the outside looking in, but my peace of mind is not for sale.
I signed off of Inside Sports every Saturday saying, “Every black face I saw was not my brother and every white face I saw was not my enemy!” Meet Don King again.
I have never forgotten how he use one of my written commentaries in his boxing program for a Mike Tyson vs Pinklon Thomas fight in Philadelphia in 1987 without my permission. I was walking around the hotel and everyone was congratulating me for a nice column. I didn’t have a clue to what they were talking about. I arrived in the media room and there in the program was my commentary I had written in the Afro-American. I was overjoyed and pissed off at the same time. He never got my permission to use my commentary for the program. As fate would have it I would get on the same elevator with him and the first thing out of his mouth, “My man Harold Bell, man I didn’t know you could write like that (BS).” My response was ‘For free!’
I had never forgotten Don’s ‘Right Hand’ Connie Harper telling me in his New York office shortly after he moved from Cleveland. ‘Harold don’t ever take any money from Don unless you earned it!’ I had earned it, but he was in a pimping mode and ignored the expression of discontent on my face.
I was also seen on the Geraldo Rivera national television show. I was pitted against Geraldo who seem to hate Don with a passion, columnist Jack Newfield who had won a Pulitzer Prize for his book and documentary titled “The Life, Lies and Crimes of Don King” and my dear friend the late boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar. It was three against one. When I saw the panel I said to myself, “Oh shit how did I get myself into this mess!” I was there sitting in for the Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon. He had chicken out at the last minute. He found out that the topic was going to be about Don King. He said, “No way.” He then called me to sit in The Hot Seat for him. I now truly understand why Wilbon’s colleague Washington Post columnist John Feinstein once said, “Michael Wilbon is the biggest ass kisser in sports media.” I cannot vouch for that but I can say. he is one of the biggest liars in sports media and courage is not one of his strong suits.
ESPN’S Michael Wilbon a smiling face telling lies
On one of Jim Brown’s visits to DC I was taking him back to his hotel and Mike Tyson’s name came into the conversation. This led to a rant about how King was a treacherous MF and he was robbing Mike blind. He said, ‘I would advise you to put that n—-r in the wind.” One year later Jim and I are having dinner at Face’s Restaurant on Georgia Avenue in DC. The conversation turns to Don King again and he completely switches gears on me. He claims. ‘Don is a good guy he is just misunderstood.’ I almost choked on the sandwich I was eating. I later discovered his real beef with Don was he was blocking Mike from donating to the Amer-I-Can program. All is well that ends well, the two are now the best of friends, Don wrote a three figured check to the Amer-I-Can program. George Foreman has written many checks to the Amer-I-Can program. And according to my friend Prentis Byrd (Kronk Gym), Jim Brown successfully intercepted a letter I had addressed to George reminding him he was to come to DC for a fundraiser for Kids In Trouble. The bottom-line for Jim Brown is a dollar bill–his dollar bill.
The great Congressman from Ohio, Lou Stokes. He was one of the original members of the first Congressional Black Caucus that crew of Ron Dellums, Walter Fauntroy, Bill Clay, and Perrin Mitchell among others. They don’t make them like those brothers any more.
Jim Brown pretending kids are first.
The kid that gave free hugs and the thousands that walked out of school and went to the polls for the first time are keeping ‘Hope Alive’ for America. The gesture by the little kid took me back to my one on one exclusive 1974 interview with The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. He explained to me why he loved kids of all colors. His explanation will warm you heart. I am in the process of having it put on CD so that I can share it with the World. Lets follow the lead of the little kid and give a hug to someone today and maybe someday we will all be free.
When a hug is much better than a bullet!