What do babies and boxing have in common?
The 79-year-old legend of boxing and notoriety is still making power moves these days, and he’s diversifying
his business deals in record-breaking and unexpected ways.
AllHipHop recently interviewed trailblazer
and entrepreneur Steve Marcano, the brains behind many of Don King’s
new ventures. We wanted to learn more about Don King’s 40-year dynasty,
which is soon to include diapers, book deals, a big screen Hollywood
memoir, and more.AllHipHop.com: You’re known as
a mover and shaker among the Black celebrity elite, including people
like Onyx, Vivica Fox, and Mike Tyson. But you’re best known for baby
diapers. How did that happen?
Steve Marcano: I’m CEO of the first
and only minority baby products company in the country, My Lil Star.
I’m successful – I do a few million a year. It’s not like I’m
Proctor and Gamble in the billions, but for someone who started this
s### with $60,000…I’ve been consistently in the millions for the
past five years.
I was telling my friend Fredro Starr
(of Onyx) that you can’t really build awareness or knock down the
Wal-Marts of the world if no one knows you. So I’m also doing things
like reality TV…
My show “Building a Brand” has
eight episodes in the can, and was just picked up by a network. It’s
coming out in January 2011. I have people like Gabrielle Union, Bob
Johnson of BET, and others.AllHipHop.com: How did that lead
you to Don King?
Steve Marcano: Don King was featured
on “Building a Brand,” and I was also fortunate to get his investment
in My Lil star, since we’re going retail in January 2011.
AllHipHop.com: There’s been a
lot of talk recently about the $200 million Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquaio
purse that Don King is backing – reportedly the highest payday in
sports history. Who could pull that off except Don King?
Steve Marcano: Don did it back in the
70s when no one else did.
AllHipHop.com: I hear that’s just
a drop in the bucket of all the cash Don King has made over the years…
Steve Marcano: Don is working now to
monetize his boxing library. It’s worth an estimated $700 million
to $1 billion. He has all that old footage of Ali and priceless stuff
that no one else has. There are deals on the table now for a Hollywood
motion picture about his life, offers for TV and radio networks –
a lot of stuff that we’ll be announcing soon.
I’m so glad they’re going to do
a movie about him…not a boxing movie or a ‘Don’s gonna get you’
movie, but a true telling of his story.
AllHipHop.com: But wait…wow, his
library is worth a billion?
Steve Marcano: This is gonna be major.
Don’s gonna own a network, and he’s going to crack a billion dollars
without any real hype to it.
You know what I really admire about
Don King? He’s hope – hope for any young person who has ever
been in real trouble. I grew up in the projects, and I’ve been arrested
before years ago. But when I look at Don King, and he went to jail for
murder in the 60s. In the 70s, he came out and raised $10 million to
do the first major fight. He got Ali and Foreman the biggest purses
in fight history at the time, and he’s made more young Black millionaires
than anyone else. So, no matter what people think or say about him,
he’s the first true “baller” that showed everybody you can do
I get sick of hearing people say they’ve
been locked up so they can’t do this or that. And then you look at
this dude. You know how hard it must have been in the 70s to get $10
million? Coming straight outta jail on a felony, and then you end up
being a consultant to George Bush and receiving humanitarian awards?
Come on, man. He ended up getting a full pardon. So I say, anyone can
turn their s### around.
AllHipHop.com: So, what’s your
role in Don King’s upcoming ventures?
Steve Marcano: I put together the meetings
for Don…for the monetization of his library and all of those deals.
I want people to know that I really connected the dots. I’ve been
working with Don for years, and I helped him out with “Ringmasters.”
If you check out “Ringmasters,” you’ll see my company’s name
there, My Lil Star.
AllHipHop.com: You’re doing big
things. Why don’t more people know about you?
Steve Marcano: My brand, My Lil Star,
is doing $2 million a year. You don’t hear about that, and I get tired
of being swept under the rug. The more people who recognize the caliber
of deals you can do, then the more money you can make. People don’t
know that I did the biggest Pay-Per-View in history with Tyson and the
WWE. I put that together, but I never was a person who wanted a whole
lot of spotlight. But again, I know that in order to broker the big
deals, people have to know you.
That’s why I did “Building a Brand”
and the diapers, and I get Greenlit shows and the ability to say I have
the first minority-owned baby products company in America that’s making
millions. I’m doing charity. I’m giving away a couple hundred thousand
dollars a year, and over 1.5 million diapers over five years. But this
Don King deal? It’s the biggest deal I’ve ever done.
AllHipHop.com: Well, from most accounts,
Don King doesn’t really do media interviews if it’s not directly
related to boxing or promoting one of his fighters. What do you think
he’d say about the spotlight he’s about to garner again soon?
Steve Marcano: Well, one thing I know
for sure is that NO ONE speaks for Don. [laughter] But, what I will
do is try to get him to talk to AllHipHop. I read y’all everyday,
and I’m gonna tell him y’all are a young, Black organization that’s
doing real things.