City of Cleveland Backs Off Plan to Name Section of Cedar Ave. Where Don King Once Killed a Man "Don King Way"

[image-1]Update: In predictable fashion, it seems the city of Cleveland will not honor Don King by bestowing an honory name on a section of Cedar Ave. where King once stomped and killed a man.

It seems that city council had little to no idea that the proposal to move "Don King Way" from Shaker Blvd. to Cedar Ave. included the scene of the crime. (Shocking, we know.) and Scene's coverage last week made some headlines, which then led to some infighting among council members on email. Via Leila Atassi:

The dispute began over the weekend, when Councilman Jeffrey Johnson had emailed his colleagues to express his disapproval of the proposed ordinance, which he said is "making our city a joke across the world."


During an interview Monday afternoon, Council President Kevin Kelley said that he intends never to call up the Don King Way proposal for a council vote.

"These things usually come pretty buttoned up. We've only ever had one go bad, and that was Gerald McFaul Road," Kelley said, referring to West 3rd Street, once named in honor of the disgraced former Cuyahoga County sheriff. "When this piece came to Finance, nobody could tell me what streets they were or why we were doing it. So we just held it. And between now and then, it's only gotten worse."
How'd we get here? Besides general council incompetence? That's not entirely clear. Councilperson Mamie Mitchell proposed the ordinance and fellow council member Phyllis Cleveland signed as a co-sponsor, but merely as a gesture, and no one can explain why anyone wanted "Don King Way" moved in the first place.

Separately: There's some spirited debate about the Jim Brown statue between council members in's coverage that is tangentially involved but nevertheless worth your time.


(Original story 9/14/16): Don King once killed a man.

That may or may not come as a shock to you, depending on your level of interest and knowledge of Mr. King. But he did. His name was Sam Garrett and he was one of King's employees back in the days when King was running numbers on the east side of Cleveland. Here's a short description, with a quote from Don King himself, from a 2011 profile.

King held off the wise guys and his power grew. He was both beloved and feared. Then came 1966 when an employee, Sam Garrett, “ran off with (some) money,” according to King.

King hunted Garrett down at a local bar, dragged him outside and proceeded to engage in what police charged was a hellacious battle. Garrett wound up dead, his head smashed against the sidewalk.

“We were fighting,” King said Tuesday. “(It was) what I call the frustrations of the ghetto expressing themselves. And when you’re fighting in the ghetto, as you can see nowadays, and it was even worse then, you don’t (back down). So you go out there, you’re kicking and fighting and you have a tragic occurrence.

“His head hit the ground. Those are the things that happen.”

King wound up having his charge reduced to manslaughter (a sweetheart deal) and was shipped to the Marion Correctional Institute for just four years.
King was pardoned by the governor and, of course, went on to national boxing fame, and along the way most people forgot about the killing and King became a worldwide celebrity and a treasure to some in his hometown. 

In April of this year, for example, Cleveland city council even gave a section of Shaker Blvd. between E. 116th and E. 121st the honorary name of "Don King Way." 

Now, for some reason, council members Mamie Mitchell and Phyllis Cleveland want to have "Don King Way" moved to Cedar Ave. instead, between E. 36th and Stokes, according to initial legislation back in August.

And, as Lelia Atassi reports this morning on, there were some changes to those plans at Monday's council finance committee meeting. Yes, the plans would now have "Don King Way" include Cedar Ave. at E. 100th Street, the location where Don King killed Sam Garrett.

"But no one addressed that fact or even explained the reasoning for moving the honorary street from Shaker Boulevard," reports, and, "Council President Kevin Kelley postponed passage of the ordinance another week to iron out the details."

What's next? The Jimmy Dimora Juvenile Justice Center?

About The Author

Vince Grzegorek

Vince Grzegorek has been with Scene since 2007 and editor-in-chief since 2012. He previously worked at Discount Drug Mart and Texas Roadhouse.
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