Orange Mound native Langston Hampton didn’t grow up wanting to be a boxing promoter. His first love was music.
So how is it that the 33-year-old Hampton – known professionally as Lank The King – is set to bring “The Big Payback” to FedExForum on July 21? The card features four boxers from Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s camp – all competing for championship belts.
“Right now on the books I’m the youngest promoter in the history of the world,” Hampton said. “I’m the youngest black boxing promoter ever.”
To get to this point, the process wasn’t easy. Hampton attended Overton High School, a performing arts school in Memphis, to pursue his first passion—music.
At Overton, Hampton played the drums in the jazz band, but his desires begin to change. After his graduation, Hampton begin to look at life in a different perspective, and ended his music career.
“I got out of music because I wasn’t making enough money and I didn’t have enough money to finance my music career,” Hampton said. “I just thought everybody is rapping and singing and it’s so much pure competition. I have to do something that makes sense.”
With a name like ‘Lank The King,’ you might suspect that a certain Afro-wearing boxing promoter might be involved – and you would be right. Hampton once crossed paths with legendary boxing promoter Don King through a boxer they both knew. Hampton hasn’t looked back since.
“Langston was smart,” said Larry Dodson Jr., Hampton’s event consultant. “He learned to connect with somebody he can learn directly from.”
And that he did.
“When I got around Don and start noticing how he operates behind the scenes – not the Don y’all see on camera – I took a liking to that,” Hampton said.
King could not be reached in time for this edition.
Now, Hampton says King is like a grandfather, and they have a relationship so close that Hampton can just walk in King’s house and open the refrigerator to get food. But that’s not the only way King is helping Hampton eat.
The young promoter started to notice how King operates and used that knowledge to help him in his own growth as a boxing promoter. Then, he was able to do things that King had never done.
Case in point: In February of 2016, Hampton promoted “The Valentines Day Massacre in Ocala,” a Central Florida town. The venue only held 800 people, and Hampton had no budget and no promotional funding. But he still was able to say his first fight was more than successful.
“I had 1,300 people in the inside and another 300 outside that we couldn’t even let in,” Hampton said.
Here’s the kicker: Don King had been trying to do an event in Ocala for 20 years, but the Florida State Boxing Commission never approved his license So when King heard about the shocking development, he immediately called Hampton. “He couldn’t understand that because they wouldn’t allow him in,” Hampton said.
Hampton wanted King to hand him the keys to Don King Productions, his company. King denied Hampton, unsure whether the young promoter was ready.
“Instead of me getting mad or sad, I said you know what, I’m going to do my own thing,” Hampton said. “I’m going to show him I can do it.”
And now? In just a few weeks, Hampton’s “Big Payback” will bring future Hall of Famer DerMarcus Corley to town, as well as Floyd Mayweather Jr. who will be there to support his four fighters. And this is just the beginning. Hampton hopes to make championship boxing a fixture of Memphis’ sports scene.
“Memphis is a fight town,” Hampton said. “We’re looking to do it consistently three times a year. After this fight, I’ll sit down with Larry (Dodson Jr.) and the state to see what’s the best option.”
Dodson and Hampton’s relationship goes back over 10 years, and they’ve grown especially close as business partners.
“He’s been one of the strongest people that have been helping me out throughout the city,” Hampton said. “He sees different sides and different angles of it.”
As an event consultant, Dodson books entertainment events all over the country. In this instance, he was looking at the bigger picture with Hampton.
“When I saw what all he needed for this match for Memphis, it was bigger than just entertainment,” Dodson Jr. said.
Growing up, Hampton was heavily involved in church, having four uncles that were preachers. He also played the drums at his church.
“I always give God the glory because if it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t be doing any of this,” Hampton said.
With success at an early age and his link to King, Hampton has drawn critics.
“At the end of the day, it comes with the territory,” Hampton said. “As long as I do my job and treat people right and fairly, I can live with that.”
Part of his plan to treat people right is giving back to his hometown. The matches on July 21 are expected to provide a boost to the Memphis economy.
If the event sells out, ‘Lank The King’ will be even more known in Memphis. That can be both a blessing and a curse, but he isn’t afraid of the spotlight.
“I love it,” Hampton said. “I work well under pressure – that’s what I do.”
(Damichael Cole is a rising senior at UT-Knoxville and an MPLOY Youth Summer Experience intern at The New Tri-State Defender.)