The Ideal Mindset of a Boxing Manager
It may be popularly known as the “Sweet Science,” but professional boxing can be a sour experience for many of its athletes that are not at the very top of their weight class or are not big draws on a local, regional, national, or international level. This reality is lost, however, on many of the proud athletes of the sport who think that a couple of early professional wins or a case full of amateur titles necessarily translates into hefty purses, lucrative promotional agreements, and widely viewed, heavily compensated television dates. The boxers start to think that prospective managers are not offering them enough and present management is not doing enough to move them up the ladder, no matter where they really stand. Indeed, when dealing with the egos of professional boxers as a manager, it is important to keep yourself focused on what needs to be done to get your boxer his taste of glory, no matter how much he complains day in and day out. Between the unscrupulous people that a manager deals with in professional boxing, and the attitudes of his boxers, one really needs a love of the sport and a zest for the excitement of fight night to keep their poise and focus at all times. With that mind, here are several important items to remember at all times as a prospective or current manager of a professional boxer:
1. Be 100% Certain That Your Written Management Agreement Defines ALL of Your Responsibilities as a Manager. For example, if the agreement does not call for you to provide money to your boxer, do not get lulled into providing money to your boxer because he complains that other boxers are getting money from their managers, etc. Because boxers will try to get a lot more out of you than you might be entitled to, make sure that you do not negotiate the management agreement just with them, but perhaps also with their trainer, a relative, or a trusted friend of theirs present so everyone understands their responsibilities and obligations.
2. Familiarize Yourself With The Economics of Boxing. If you do your research and can cite to good authority when your boxer complains that he should be getting more money on a regional television show or a non-televised major undercard, you are in a better position to stand your ground than if he has someone else that has information that readily contradicts yours. Ask other managers and promoters how much you should expect, read articles on what boxers in similar situations have received, contact your state or tribal nation’s athletic commissions for redacted copies of similar fight contracts.
3. Keep Your Eyes Open for Sponsors. The best cure for low purses may indeed be securing a sponsor or two for your boxer who pays for advertising on his trunks or robe. All of a sudden, a $2,500 purse can turn into a $4,500 purse, and your boxer is that much more financially contented between fights. Be cautioned, however, that even good managers may not be able to secure sponsors unless it’s the right boxer for a particular sponsor’s product, or a big enough show to make any sponsorship worthwhile. Sometimes it is more about a boxer selling himself in the local community than any representations that a manager can make to attract sponsors.
4. Make Yourself a Presence. Matchmakers and promoters get dozens of tapes every week of people’s fighters. Make yourself a presence with follow up letters, e-mails, and phone calls, and you can help increase the chances that your boxer might get a break when the right opportunity comes up. There are several ways to get contact lists of people in the boxing industry. Get them.
5. Research Your Opportunities. Don’t just sign up your boxer to any fight or promotional agreement that he is offered. Do your homework on the prospective opponents and the prospective contract terms and see if a given opportunity is worth your while. Ask yourself if this is the right time for him to be locked into a particular fight or promotional agreement. In boxing, more so than in many other sports, athletes are very prone to exploitation. If it’s worth your while, contact an attorney, such as myself, that is experienced in reviewing boxing-related contracts to make sure you understand everything that is contained within a given agreement.
6. Create a Stable Team Around Your Boxer. I have been to several meetings of managers and trainers at the New York State Athletic Commission offices where a chief complaint is that a trainer or manager is picking another trainer or manager’s pocket and stealing their boxer away from them. The remedy: written contracts. If nothing else, a written contract will at least give yourself and your boxer’s trainer peace of mind that the boxer cannot shift their allegiance (and the purse percentages) to another manager or trainer without subjecting himself to legal action. Many times, given the money involved, the enforcement of such contracts may not be worthwhile, but at least the option is there and everyone knows it.
7. Stay Focused on Getting the Best for Your Boxer. Do not be sidetracked by your boxer’s unreasonable expectations, but do everything within your power to see that your boxer can maximize his potential. Be able to say to yourself at the end of the day that you have done everything you can honestly do for your boxer’s career. If there reaches a point where you feel you cannot take him any further alone, be honest with yourself and seek the assistance of a co-manager that may be able to fill a gap in your services to him.
8. Stand Your Ground with Your Boxer. If your boxer threatens to leave you, do not hesitate to inform him of the legal rights and remedies that you have before he makes his decision. Do not hesitate to remind your boxer of all of the positives you have done for his career if he is prone to harping on the negatives. Appreciate that you may not be as shortsighted as your boxer is about his career, and show him the error of his thinking as need be.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Paul S. Haberman LLC with any legal or management-related questions or concerns upon reading this article.
Originally published on the Sports Law Blog on March 18, 2008 (http://sportsagentblog.com/2008/03/18/the-ideal-mind-set-of-a-boxing-manager/)
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