05/08/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S YOUNGER SON had to grow into his athletic, broad-shouldered build. "I was a little bit chubby when I was a kid," says Dexter Scott King, 34. "Well, maybe not chubby. Maybe robust. I was big, is what I'm trying to say." R&B singer Lisa Lisa, who first met the 6'2", 207-lb. King in 1985, says it better: "He's a big, beautiful man. I felt like I could get lost in all that; that he could cradle me." As head of Atlanta's Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Dexter led his family's three-month battle with the National Park Service over its plans to build a visitors' center on land the Kings coveted for a museum. (A truce was declared in March, while the two sides work out their differences.) He attributes much of his vigor to a vegetarian diet ("It got me in touch with my energy") and to a health-food store product: Dr. Hauschka's facial cleanser ("I use it every day"). At times, King's strong features, as well as his actions, bear an almost eerie resemblance to his father's. Declares his friend, celebrity publicist Terrie Williams: "Dexter is black America's royal legacy."