Washington Promoter James L. Denson said yesterday upon his return from Monte Carlo that he shortly will try to get Muhammad Ali to help put together a WBA heavyweight boxing championship bout between John Tate and Gerrie Coetzee in September in RFK stadium.
Denson, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, said, "Right now it's a matter of what kind of deal Bob Arum (head of the Top Rank promotional firm) gets from South Africa.
"I think they (South African interests) have made Arum a deal he can't refuse. Money will do a lot of strange things.
"I told Arum in Monte Carlo that if $1 million or $1.5 million will bring the bout to Washington. I'm prepared. I think I have the support of the whole city.I am not going to throw the towel in.
"I would put together a consortium, a general limited partnership, as if I were developing a housing project. The television networks are all interested; it will be an international spectacle. That revenue would help me to pay for part of the costs.
"I have not talked to Coetzee (the white South African) but I have tested the political climate here. Coetzee has come out against apartheid. It would be the same as South African Gary Player on the golf circuit.
"If Tate insists on the bout being in the United States, I think I can convince his manager (Jerry Miller) to fight here rather than in Tate's hometown of Knoxville. It comes down to the bottom line."
Densen said he went to Monte Carlo expecting Leon Spinks to beat Coetzee on Sunday. "I was assured by Arum that if Spinks won there would be no problem at all in staging a Spinks-Tate bout in Washington," Denson said.
"There would be no problem of scheduling the fight at RFK stadium at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, or Sunday (Sept. 9). I talked to Tate before and after Coetzee beat Spinks and Tate said he'd be delighted to fight Coetzee in Washington.
"The problem is that I don't have either fighter tied up. I think they have signed return-match contracts with Arum. I have to talk to the World Boxing Association about whether it was a true elimination tournament to determine a successor to Ali, now that he has retired."
Denson theorized that Ali would be interested in Tate having the advantage of fighting in front of a friendly crowd in hope of seeing the title remain here rather than risk it going to South Africa.