Getting Into The Business Of Boxing: Leveraging The 33%

16.08.05 - By Coach Tim Walker - - There are different reasons why people become boxers. Some needed outlets as kids. Others like the excitement of hand-to-hand combat. Still others love the allure of making millions and having people cheer their names as they walk down the streets. No matter how you arrived at being a professional boxer you are now there. And now that you are there one of the most important questions you must ask yourself is, "Do I need a manager?"

To understand whether or not you need a manager you must first assess your financial situation and secondly understand the role of a manager. Is boxing your full time job or do earn income by other means? Can you afford gym dues and the other expenses typically incurred by boxers? Do you just want to fight or do you really want a chance at making it big? Former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson worked construction for years and wasn't able to stop working construction until he fought Roy Jones, Jr.

If you don't have an Olympic background, a national amateur pedigree, or are believed to be the second coming of Ali or Tyson then you have very little leverage with managers. In fact it will be more difficult to even score a manager apart from this type of notoriety. Believe me: leverage is the only thing that counts when it comes to negotiating.

Let's assume you have little or no amateur background and never won a nationally recognized title as an amateur and you are not the second coming of Pretty Boy Floyd. It is still possible for you to make a decent earning as a boxer. If you are in this stage of your boxing career it is my opinion that you don't need a manager you need leverage. If you work a real job to pay the bills then use your boxing wages as bargaining power to negotiate with promoters. Basically fight for free or for less. Instruct your trainer to get you good fights by leveraging your fee against your participation. What does this mean? Depending on your division you are going to need to get 6 to 8 wins, hopefully with no losses, to give you any kind of leverage.

Assume that a four round fight will earn you about $500 dollars of which your trainer will earn $50 to $100 of your purse. In addition to that you may have to pay a cutman another $50 to $100. Charge enough for your fights to pay your corner and cutman and leverage the balance of your purse to get a good fight. A good fight means an opponent who comes to fight but is sort of made for your fight style. Promoters are out to make money and they must be getting something good for them to look out for you when you are not signed to them. Remember you ultimately need wins to have leverage and what would a couple of hundred dollars really do for you anyway.

Try to make those 6 to 8 fights local so that you can build a local following. Fighting on television and big venues has its benefits but unless you have a local following then you are basically spinning your wheels. Butts in the seats equal more leverage equals more money in the pocket.

Okay you've got 6 wins with no losses and promoters and managers are beginning to pay attention. Don't SIGN! Sit and meet but don't sign just yet. If they want you at 6-0 they'll want you even more at 10-0. A 10-0 record may sound a long way down the road but if you fight every five weeks you'll be right there within a year.

You're 10-0 and ready to consider signing with a manager. Here is a list of points or questions you should be paying attention to:

What plan does he have for your career? If you sign a three year 12 fight deal know the internals of what you are signing yourself into. What is his relationship with the major players: networks, promoters, other managers, trainers, etc.

Is he knowledgeable and willing to let you continue to develop or his ready to toss you into the fire? A good manager understands that you will need fights varying from tomato cans to step up fights to contention fights. Tossing a guy into the fire when he is not ready ultimately helps no one except the promoter possibly.

Ask to see a personal financial statement or financial statement of his business. This will help you determine that he has the ability to financially meet your needs.

Who else does he manage and how has he handled their career? Forget pipe dreams. Gauge yourself against the same level of fighter you are and make a determination of whether he has the ability to manage a boxer of your status. Club fighters and preeminent fighters require different levels of management.

What avenues other than boxing can he present to you? What most boxers fail to do is promote themselves beyond the typical setup for a fight. They mistakenly make their only promotion boxing show promotion which means they are not well known.

Promoters will promote your fights, how will a manger promote you as an individual beyond a fight? Boxers who earn the most attract people from outside the normal boxing circles.

Take notes and don't be afraid to interrupt the guy to ask a pertinent question.

Management is a tricky thing because of how it works. Initially, a manager is in control of how things go because he is putting up the money even though technically he works on behalf of the boxer. Once a boxer begins to earn decent money a subtle transition occurs where the manager begins to work for a boxer. The problem is that many boxers see themselves, especially on the lower levels, as working for a manager. My challenge is that boxers begin to take more control of how things really function in regards to their careers.

Look for the next installment on dealing with promoters. Don't assume this be the golden rule. Still, it is better to have a plan rather than simply walk into boxing with no point of direction.

Article posted on 16.08.2005

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