James Prince Speaks Out On Ricardo Williams, Ahmed ďBaby FaceĒ Kaddour, James Toney and Others!
17.07.04 - Interview by Carlos Kalinchuk: This Tuesday, Eastside Boxing spoke at length with boxing Manager James Prince. Although his name will elicit a vast variety of opinions, one canít ignore the positive influences heís had on boxing and Houstonís crime ridden fifth ward community. For those of you who donít know, fifth ward is what Compton is to Los Angeles. Itís not the safest place to be at night but nonetheless, James has placed one of the finest boxing gyms right in the heart of an area thatís more noted for the trouble it brings than the positive results it produces. ďI decided to plant a positive seed right here in the middle of all the negativity would be a good thing to get the kids and everybody and opportunity to do something differentĒ said James. This is my entire interview with James.
Article posted on 17.07.2004
Eastside Boxing: Tell us a little bit about some of the boxers you have in your stable right now.
James Prince: Iíve got Winky Wright, Steve Forbes, Diego Corrales, Mark ďToo SharpĒ JohnsonÖumm Iíve got to think about this because Iíve got to keep remembering themÖRicardo Williams, Ahmed ďBaby FaceĒ Kaddour and the list goes on and on. In fact Iím about to close a deal with my man James Toney.
Eastside Boxing: Fantastic. Thatís great. Tell us a little more about how your interest for boxing came about. Everyone has known you for what youíve done in the music industry but what gave you this passion to work with boxers?
James Prince: Actually I had a passion for boxing before the music industry. Music distracted me, which was a good distraction. My brother used to rap all the time. His name was Sir Rap A lot and with him rapping in my ear all the time, I got distracted and got into the music business but I never lost my vision where boxing was concerned. I never had access to a boxing gym in fifth ward when I was growing up and I always wanted to box and watching Don King in my youth, I was inspired to go into boxing. When I got a break, I came back to the community where Iím from and I built a recreation center with a boxing gym. I got here and in a few days I started watching the kids and everything, and I said to myself, ďIím going to go in the boxing business.Ē I connected and had a relationship with Mike Tyson. I went out there and met with Mike Tyson and met Floyd Mayweather through Mike Tyson and everything was birthed from that encounter.
Eastside Boxing: People have spoken about the very positive effects your gym has had on the community in Houston. What was the cause of that and why off of here on Jensen Drive? (**Writers note; Jensen Drive is the most dangerous area in the city of HoustonÖlots of drugs, gangs, and the like)
James Prince: First of all, God blessed me with a piece of land here. And Jensen Drive is a REAL active street as far as EVERTHING that happens on this street!
Eastside Boxing: Yeah it does!
James Prince: Are you from here?
Eastside Boxing: Oh yeah!
James Prince: Okay so you know what Iím talking about. So I decided to plant a positive seed right here in the middle of all the negativity would be a good thing to get the kids and everybody and opportunity to do something different.
Eastside Boxing: Do you think more along the lines that since you were raised here that that also played a pivotal role in your decision?
James Prince: Most definitely!
Eastside Boxing: Because you could have picked anywhere.
James Prince: Yeah but I definitely had to do it here. Because this is a community and the hood that helped shape the person who I am today.
Eastside Boxing: How has the response been community leaders and people in the area?
James Prince: Great man! Itís great! Everybody loves it. A lot of my friends and kids love it and so Iím like a kid in a candy store because I see all my friends kids even the ones that are incarcerated but I see there kids having an opportunity and they really appreciate it.
Eastside Boxing: Iím going to change gears on you but there was a lot of negativity relating to your relationship with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Can you tell me where that came from and how did that start?
James Prince: Well it depends what part you are referring to.
Eastside Boxing: Well there was some talk about a raw deal on the financial side of it that was mentioned by someÖ
James Prince: I never heard him say that. I never heard him say that Floyd is getting a raw deal. All I ever heard him say is Iíve done a great job for him. I took a $12 million contract and I turned it into a $27 million dollar contract. So I never heard anything negative about what I did for Floyd.
Eastside Boxing: So where was the negativity coming from?
James Prince: Well, a lot of it was when me and him connected. It was his father and a lot of press and different things with me having a rap background in the beginning. There was a lot of things in the beginning and when we decided to go our separate ways maybe a thing or two from his camp but Iíve never done anything for Floyd but made him a bunch of money. When I came in, Bob was getting 25% of his money!
Eastside Boxing: Youíre right. Thatís what I may have heard at the time and of course his father had issues with you.
James Prince. Right. I came in and I restructured that and I came in and put a plan in effect where we defeated Diego Corrales quicker. So everything I did made him money! The guy wasnít even making a million dollars before I came in. On his contract it had $750,000 for his next fight and I immediately got him a $1,000,000 dollars two days before the fight.
Eastside Boxing: Did you and Bob Arum really bump heads then?
James Prince: In the beginning yes, because Bob didnít really know what to think of me but a month or so past by and we had a press conference and he went up to the podium and said, ďJames Prince is my friend and a very astute business man!Ē And everything that was true so today me and Bob have a great relationship.
Eastside Boxing: Do you think that receiving accolades from someone like Arum who is very accomplished in what he does, gave you the opportunity to have others look at you differently when you now came through the door?
James Prince: Most definitely because boxing is like a ďturf-thing.Ē Iím kind of used to it because in the music industry and the boxing industry, both are cut throat industries. So I was being conditioned in the music industry to deal with the press and all these things and so Iím immune to it! In fact I feel like Iím at home.
Eastside Boxing: Since you brought it up, what have you taken from what you learned in music and applied it to boxing? You mentioned the way you handle negativity but what other things have you been able to use?
James Prince: As a person that came from the rap industry and a time when NOBODY wanted to embrace it and me creating a group like the Ghetto Boys was a real controversial thing. Everybody even the major record labels that embrace rap music now, was against it back then. So I came through a tornado, a hurricane and an earthquake to get through all that. Like I said, I was conditioned. I brought all that with me. I brought the entrepreneur side of it as well and I brought everything else with me to the boxing world and itís been a recipe for success and I can apply it to anything and be successful.
Eastside Boxing: In managing the fighters you have, why have you suddenly got this magnet for bringing top names to your business/management? What perpetuated this? Was it word of mouth?
James Prince: Itís been word of mouth mostly but itís been my track record in the music industry. A lot of them are followers of my music and they anybody that comes from the street and creates a multi-million dollar business in the music business, ďindependently ownedĒ and then once we come in contact with one another I know how to sell myself. My track record speaks for itself and based on where Iím from we just move on from there.
Eastside Boxing: I like to ask this question of trainers and promoters and managers but I have to ask you, is there anybody that you currently have that you think is a diamond in the rough and a hot superstar waiting to explode on the boxing world?
James Prince: Oh yeah! A lot of people are not familiar with Ahmed ďBaby FaceĒ Kaddour! I think Ahmed is a quiet storm. I have my hand on some Olympians right now. A lot of them in fact the elite ones. So Iím excited about that but I wonít name them too early because I donít want them to run out (laughs).
Eastside Boxing: (Laughs). I know what Ahmedís answer will be on this question but I want to hear what you have to say. Why is he so unknown to the general boxing public? Heís got close to 20 fights so what is it?
James Prince: Itís a combination of things. Heís pretty known over in Europe but I think it was the promoter that was behind but now; weíre going to expose him to the world.
Eastside Boxing: What are you plans for him? Heís fighting on this pay-per view card against this weekend with Layla Ali headlining. Whatís the guys name that heís fighting?
James Prince: I forgot the guys name but heís 22-4.
Eastside Boxing: What are you expecting from him in the next few months?
James Prince: I expect for him to work hard and stay focused and weíre going to go in and hook up a new promoter because his old promoter is falling apart and so Iím going to put all the ingredients for him to take him to the top and all he has to do is deliver.
Eastside Boxing: Heís very charismatic and when I saw him at a fight recently, he had a lot of women coming up to him. How are you going to sell him to the public?
James Prince: We talk to him a lot and try and teach how to speak but heís pretty good at it. The thing I need for him to do is stay focused and away from all them girls.
Eastside Boxing: He had one he was pretty serious about for a bit.
James Prince: Them pretty girls are attracted to him and you know what they did to Sampson (laughs).
Eastside Boxing: Thatís right. I didnít think about that (laughs). Ricardo Williams, talk to me about him. Heís a controversial subject only because people have said the guy doesnít work hard. Whatís been your experience with him?
James Prince: With the old Ricardo I saw an unfocused Ricardo. He was young and he got a lot of money up front. It kind of distracted him for a minute and you have to understand, he became a millionaire over night. There were a lot of things he wanted and he kind of went out and got them and it distracted him. But it isnít how you start the race; itís how you finish. But now Iím in his corner and Iím someone that likes nice things but I know how to prioritize things. So this is my goal to teach him how to prioritize things to where he can not only get things but keep them.
Eastside Boxing: How did you keep yourself out of that? How did you personally keep yourself from getting caught up in the money, drugs and girls because Iím sure youíve seen a lot of people start with the right intentions but finish horribly?
James Prince: My father was very instrumental in my life. My Grandmother and uncles and a lot of people that Iíll be indebted to the rest of my life. Even though I got off track sometimes, God kept a shield of protection around me and my ignorance and so I was forced to snap.
Eastside Boxing: Yeah, things have a way of happening like that donít they?
James Prince: Yeah.
Eastside Boxing: You mentioned who was influential in your personal life but who was influential in your boxing life? I mean there wasnít exactly somebody standing beside you and telling what to do or there isnít a book you can buy at Borderís Bookstore to tell you how to manage a professional prizefighter, who helped you along the way?
James Prince: Well attorneys. Attorneys are some of my best friends.
Eastside Boxing: Thatís an expensive way huh?
James Prince. Yeah but the bible says a wise man has many counselors and so I knew coming out of the gate, and I just know from a business standpoint that you need people to be able to tell you the rules and guidelines and itís up to me to make my own decisions from that so I would say attorneys.
Eastside Boxing: What kind of things have you discussed with Ricardo Williams? You are somewhat cut from the same cloth but you took an alternative route to your success. What have you told him so far?
James Prince: When I see him getting close to getting a stray, Iím constantly planting seeds. But itís like a lifestyle with these guys and you have to do it daily. Thereís things that you see that could arise and moves that are made and so itís a daily thing. If I had to tap into one specific thing it would be God. Heís here with me now which is a major step from him leaving Cincinnati. Heís here now so weíll have a chance to bond one on one so Iíll be able to feed him game.
Eastside Boxing: That must have been the toughest but like you said, Ricardoís here. So is his dad still training him or does he have different trainers now?
James Prince: Well Hunt is working with him now but thatís something we have to talk about going into his next fight.
Eastside Boxing: So is he moving here to Houston?
James Prince: Well Ricardo hasnít entirely moved here yet but thatís the goal, to set him up here in Houston because this is where he could focus.
Eastside Boxing: Man you have so many people youíre working with now, I donít know where to start but you have Diego Corrales and heíll be fighting Acelino Freitas and that is a huge huge fight! Thatís got to be one of the biggest events you have coming up!
James Prince: Yeah but itís not only Diego, Steve Forbes will be on the same card and they will both be fighting for titles. Thatís going to be an exciting night! The last time we did this was with Diego and Mark Johnson and we came out on top so that was a great night!
Eastside Boxing: Speaking of Mark ďToo SharpĒ Johnson, do you feel heís one of the most under appreciated boxers in the sport today? With his skills and how good he is, people should really know who he is when he walks into a room. What can you tell a fighter or what other things can you do to get a fighters name out there who is that good?
James Prince: Well one of the things we can do, unlike any other managers can do, is Iím going to tie the boxers into the hip hop culture. To me the boxing system is stuck in a lot of old ways of doing things. I want to break that cycle and get them exposed in the entertainment industry. Theyíve done it in the past but itís been very few of them so the opportunities I can expose them to, thereís no competition out there.
Eastside Boxing: Are you talking about turning people into rap stars? What are you talking about (smiles)? I mean what if they canít rap?
James Prince: No I donít want to turn them into rap starts but to get them exposure in their videos, and movies. Right now rap is so popular right now. Itís affected our lifestyles in many ways. If you look right now, some rap stars are on everything right now. I think the next president, well maybe not the next president but in the future I think at some point a president will come from the hip hop culture.
Eastside Boxing: (Laughs) I can see you on a box of CheeriosÖjust kidding man.
James Prince: Right.
Eastside Boxing: You put this out there but how serious is the probability of James Toney working with James Prince?
James Prince: Very serious. Heíll be here tomorrow. Iím talking to his attorney and thatís his Pop out there in the red (motions outside his office). So weíre putting this together.
Eastside Boxing: Any last comments?
James Prince: I just want the boxing world to know Iím here to stay and Iím here to stay.
Eastside Boxing: Thanks a lot.
James Prince: Thank you.
Carlos ďStiff-jabĒ Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer & Photographer
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