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University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Libraries

When I was at Caesars, we got into the fight business. We created the fight business. Caesars, up to that point, had staged some boxing matches, the biggest of which would be held in our sports pavilion in the back; the sports pavilion held forty?four hundred people. We had a number of fights and would fill the pavilion. October 2, 1980, Cliff Perlman, who was our chairman, signed a deal with Don King and we brought in Muhammad Ali to fight Larry Holmes. That's some of the stuff I'll show you. I've got a museum upstairs. He calls everybody together on August 31st and says, ""Guys, I just signed this deal and we're going to have this fight here at Caesars Palace. We're going to build a stadium in our parking lot to hold this event, and the stadium is going to hold thirty?four thousand people, and we're going to televise it in eighty countries, and we're going to do this and we're going to do that."" He's throwing this monumental task at us and nobody knows how to do it. There was no handbook. Nobody had ever done anything like this before. You kind of do it by the seat of your pants. Somebody says, ""Mr. P, when are we going to do this?"" ""October 2nd."" Again, it was August 31st that we had the meeting. He had given us thirty?two days to put this thing together. Of course, the rest is history. It was the most successful event in television history up to that point. It was outdrawn by the funeral of [Princess] Diana a little later. It was an incredible thing. So you were right in the mix of all of that. Yes. Championship boxing, Grand Prix racing. Perlman believed in special events as the most successful marketing campaign that we could have. He didn't believe in slot clubs and he didn't believe in a lot of the gimmickry that was going on. He believed in special events. So we had fifty?four special events a year at Caesars, more than one a week. If you were a top executive, senior level executive, in addition to your regular responsibilities of running a place like Caesars, you also served on the six?man special events committee to make all this happen. So I was a pretty business guy for a number of years. Oh, my. Just so we get this on record, you started working at Caesars in...? March of '78. Okay. This is after you've been at the Aladdin. Yes. The Aladdin was '73 and four. Let's stick with the Caesars experience. That's significant. Oh, yes. So you didn't build this stadium. Well, not a stadium. It was tented. It was temporary? Yes, it was bleachers, temporary structure. We built it. It held thirty?four thousand people. The day after the event we tore it down. That's just amazing. What was interesting about that is...I tend to be a very conservative operator. I go with what's been proven successful, kind of middle-of-the-road. It isn't outlandish. It isn't wild. Perlman, who was our chairman and owner, was a visionary. He was the greatest visionary I had ever worked for. Long before people like Steve Wynn, Perlman was like a Jay Sarno. He called us together one time. He was thinking about changing the whole format of the showroom. We had headliners in there where you had Sinatra and just tons of headline performers. He had gone to Europe, saw some shows, and came back and says, "I want to do a show where there's acrobats flying all over the place and contortionists." We're looking at him like he's crazy. What is he talking about? This was long before the first Cirque show ever came to Las Vegas. He had envisioned this. He wanted to build a stage and have a permanent Cirque show there. But that was Perlman.