When emcees from the Catskills to Las Vegas introduce Alan King as a Renaissance guy, they’re generally talking about the fact that King, a 50-year veteran of comedy, is also an actor, producer, entrepreneur, sportsman, civil servant, and author. Prizefighter they don’t usually mention.
”I was a boxer when I was a kid,” says King, who plays Boom Boom Grossman, a retired fighter-turned-evil boxing promoter in Irwin Winkler’s remake of Night and the City. ”I was 17 or 18 when I stopped because I got beaten to death.” The boxing — or the beating — helped convince Winkler and Night‘s star, Robert De Niro, that King should play Boom Boom. ”I had a friend of mine come up to my office and do the prosthetic, the nose, which I eventually ended up wearing in the picture,” King says. ”I went to Tribeca to meet Bobby and we started talking, and all of a sudden he said, ‘What is that?’ I says, ‘That’s Boom Boom’s nose.’ He said, ‘You’re right. You’re Boom Boom.”’
King modeled his character on real-life tough guys he knew as a kid, but the proboscis was his own. ”The nose I wore in the movie was what my original nose was after I stopped fighting,” says King, who clearly enjoys the who’s-on-first aspect of all this. ”See, after I stopped (fighting) I had plastic surgery. I’m really wearing my old nose. You see, what goes around comes around.”