10 Tips to Become a Successful Boxing Manager

Boxing Manager

Boxing isn’t an easy sport to break into for fighters, promoters or managers. Thousands of fighters compete each year and hundreds of managers help them organize bouts. Yet, to make it as a successful boxing manager and build a career in the sport, it takes some lucky breaks and dedication. Here are 10 tips to help guide you.

1. Know the Basics When Scouting Boxers

2. Understand A Fighter’s Skills

3. Wear Different Hats

4. Understand the Industry

5. Don’t be Afraid to be Different

6. Be Clear About What You Do

7. Define Your Relationship

8. Keep Your Eyes Open for Other Financial Opportunities

9. Be Active

10. Focus on quality and not quantity

A boxing manager is often only as good as the fighters they represent. Boxers are the best advertisement for a boxing manager and a representative can become well-known due to the success of their fighters. Of course, there are other ways in which a boxing manager can become highly sought-after by other boxers to represent them.

So, how do boxing managers attract fighters and help them build successful careers? If you are looking for ways to get into the world of prize fighting, here are some tips to help you break into the world of boxing management and succeed.

1. Know the Basics When Scouting Boxers

Many boxing managers are ex-fighters and grew up training in the sport at dank, smelly, sweaty gyms. One very successful boxing manager that previously fought is Manny Pacquaio’s representative Sean Gibbons. The successful manager had a modest fight record in the mid-1990s before maxing out his career in the ring. As Pacquaio’s representative, Gibbons has become a very rich man setting up bouts for the boxer and organizing the battler’s career in and out of the squared circle.

Ex-fighters can make great boxing managers because they know what it takes to be a fighter in the ring. They may have also learned the ropes of setting up fights, training, and organizing training camps. Like the NFL, Major League Baseball, the Premier League, or NHL, a good manager can start his career as a fighter. You do not always need to be the best professional to be successful representing a fighter.

Being familiar with the basics and fundamentals of boxing is vital for a boxing manager. Why? Because knowing the basics and fundamentals of the sport allow you to scout fighters with potential. Not all boxers are skillful and have potential. Yes, you may find a diamond in the rough, but as a boxing manager, you need to know the fundamentals and be able to improve the fighter. If you cannot see the gaps and shortcomings in a boxer’s game, then it is unlikely that you can help them improve.

2. Understand A Fighter’s Skills

To be a successful manager, you must understand your fighter’s skills and abilities in the ring. If you are unable to spot their skills, then you won’t be able to find your boxer with the right opponents. One of the key job roles a boxing manager has is to identify potential opponents their fighter can compete against.

Famed boxing manager Constantine D’Amato represented three of the biggest fighters the sport has ever seen. D’Amato managed the careers of Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres, and “Iron” Mike Tyson before passing away in 1985. D’Amato was instrumental in each of the fighter’s career and helped Tyson in the early stages of his development.

D’Amato not only managed fighters but also helped train them. He helped fighters like Tyson learn the peek-a-book style. D’Amato was able to successfully scout potential champions, but he could teach them, thus improving his understanding of their skills. This made it possible for D’Amato to match his fighters up against others they could defeat.

Booking a fighter against another boxer in which their skills do not match up is a detrimental to your battler. If you book them a fight against a tomato can, then it can hurt their development and ranking. Set up a fight against a boxer that has better skills, and your fighter will look bad and may never recover.

3. Wear Different Hats

D’Amato is a great example of a boxing manager that wore different hats during his career. The Boxing Hall of Fame inductee not only managed fighters but trained them and owned a gym. Tyson learned his peek-a-book style from D’Amato and improved his skills.

Boxing managers do not start out at the top. If they did, then anyone could do it. You will start at the bottom or close to it. Therefore, you will need to do a lot work for very little money. In fact, you may lose money early on. Due to the amount of money it takes to hire individuals to train a boxer, you need to do a variety of jobs to keep costs low.

Along with training or helping to train your fighter, you may be in charge of public relations and contacting media outlets. Handling a fighter’s finances are also important and one of the chief aspects of a boxing manager’s job.

In some cases, a boxing manager isn’t just a person who handles a fighter’s career. A boxing manager may be the father figure that the boxer does not have. You may need to be the shoulder the boxer cries on or the confidant they do not have in their personal life.

Along with advising your fighter on their career, you may give advice on their personal life too. Had D’Amato not died in 1985, Tyson’s career may have ended up very differently. “Iron” Mike may not have lost to Buster Douglas in February 1990 and not gone on to face personal issues outside of the ring either. Being that father figure can improve a fighter’s chances of being more successful inside and outside of the ring.

4. Understand the Industry

Boxing is a cut-throat sport. You may have a fighter in your stable rising up the ranks only to leave you for a more established manager. You have to show your fighters that you are irreplaceable as their representative. As a boxing manager, you have to go to the ends of the Earth to prove yourself time and again until your fighter gets to the top.

Boxers are not the only ones who will jump ship if they find a better offer. Boxing promoters and representatives will cut bait on a fighter if they don’t believe the battler is progressing. Boxer Jerry Belmontes was dropped by his management group Top Rank despite winning a fight. Although Belmontes was a successful boxer, the management company felt a narrow win proved he had little room to grow in the sport.

Belmontes turned to his friend Adrian Clark, an ex-boxer who had found success representing basketball players. According to Clark, he knew nothing about representing a boxer or the professional ranks. Yet, Clark has become a success by disrupting the world of professional boxing management as an outsider. He learned the industry and got to grips with how the sport worked politically and could be improved.

You have to understand the world of boxing inside and out to be a success. That doesn’t mean you have to know the boxing industry when you start it, but you have to learn the ropes and continue to grow.

5. Don’t be Afraid to be Different

You have to be ready for boxers to leave you behind if they are approached by other managers. It is a common issue with sports agents, promoters and managers of all kinds. So, how do you keep a boxer from leaving your stable after making them successful?

Contracts are an important part of the sport. A good manager should have a contract agreement in place between the boxer and themselves. This can prevent any issues going forward in regards to money, training, and representation.

A contract can also outline the length of time that a manager represents a fighter. It could be for a few years or based on a set number of fights. If a fighter is approached by other representatives, then a contract can keep them tied to your management. It could also lead to the new management group paying compensation to acquire the boxer.

Interestingly, Clark has created contracts that benefit the fighter more than the manager. This isn’t necessarily how the sport has worked over the years. Oftentimes, the contract between a boxer and manager has favored the representative rather than the fighter. Clark has disrupted the industry by giving boxers more freedom. For example, Clark gives his boxers the “ability to terminate his managerial agreement with a fifteen day notice, pay the manager a check on the net receipts of his fight income (instead of the more typical gross income calculation) and make it more commonplace for separate investor agreements to be signed when a manager invests in a boxer.”

Clark’s agreement with fighters is unique and gives boxers more power. As a boxing manager, Clark has strayed from the traditional way the sport worked. If you want to be successful and carve out your own niche, you may choose to go down the same road as Clark. If you can create your own unique way of doing business, and it works, then boxers will line up to join your stable.

6. Be Clear About What You Do

Some aspiring boxing managers may not be clear on the objectives of the job. Managers oftentimes get into the sport to help themselves build a career, make a living, and become successful. A good manager isn’t in the sport for themselves but for those they represent.

A boxing manager’s objectives are to guide and advise a fighter on career moves. In some cases, a manager must protect a boxer from themselves. A boxer can be his/her own worst enemy making bad financial decisions, poor life choices, and other moves that sabotage their careers.

As a skilled boxing manager, you need to put together the best team possible to train the boxer and prepare them for upcoming bouts. After putting a team in place, you need to beat down doors to get the boxer a match. If the fighter has already built a name for himself/herself, then it won’t be as difficult. Managers need to be on the lookout for good opponents and capable of scouting other fighters for good quality bouts.

Boxing managers need to be good communicators and capable of approaching promoters about fights. Promoters are the ones who set up boxing events and a good promoter can make a boxer’s career. Promoters are also the ones who pay the boxer, who in turn pays the manager.

You may represent a boxer who has had a bad experience with previous managers. Some boxing managers will treat their fighters poorly with their relationships more like a pimp-prostitute connection. These managers willingly sell their boxer to promoters for very little money and have little regard of their well-being. This type of manager is not reputable and will discard a fighter after they get what they want out of them.

Remember, your reputation is only as good as the way in which you treat and work for your boxer. Sure, you may be able take advantage of some low-level boxers, but as your reputation gets around, you will find fewer individuals that want to work with you.

7. Define Your Relationship

As previously stated, contracts define the relationship between a boxing manager and boxer. It is important to reiterate that a contract defines your responsibilities. Therefore, you need to be 100% positive that the written contract outlines your roles.

A boxing manager must oversee a number of aspects of a fighter’s career. However, managers – especially inexperienced ones – can be persuaded to do things for a fighter that isn’t outlined by the agreement. This can start a precedent and cause issues later when you refuse to complete a request. You may be asked to provide money to or pay for the boxer’s living expenses, meals, or other items. Don’t let a boxer work you by claiming other managers provide financial support for their fighters.

It is important to have a good working relationship in which neither of you take advantage of the other. A boxer-manager relationship is symbiotic in which both parties work together to be successful. In addition to negotiating a contract with the boxer, it is important to do the same with the rest of the team to make sure everyone is clear of their objectives.

8. Keep Your Eyes Open for Other Financial Opportunities

Boxing matches are not the only way a fighter can earn money. There are other opportunities available to boxers allowing them to earn extra cash outside of the ring. The best way to get your fighter more financial support is to find a sponsorship, so keep your eyes open for opportunities. Prize purses are not always lucrative and sponsorships can improve a poor payday.

What sponsorship opportunities are available to boxers? Sponsorships can vary from a local car dealership to a nationally well-known sports bookmaker. The level of the fight your boxer will compete in, the show, and the fighter’s record will all dictate the sponsorship and the amount of money available. Once again, a sponsorship can certainly improve the prize purse and make an okay payday into a great one.

There have been ways in which boxers have taken their sponsorships too far. Billy Gibby is called the “Human Billboard” after tattooing the logos of his sponsors all over his upper body. You should never suggest your fighter do something as extreme as this.

A sponsorship can be sewn onto a fighter’s trunks or robe. The cornermen could even wear the logos on their shirts at ringside. A $1,000 purse could suddenly be $2,000 or $3,000, making the bout even more of a success. The money can also mean your promising boxer continues training and moving up the ranks.

9. Be Active

Too often, aspiring boxing managers hang around a gym, talk to some boxers and trainers, and are rarely heard from until the day of the fight. Truly successful boxing managers are a presence at gyms or shows. Networking is vital to becoming a successful boxing manager.

A manager must network with matchmakers and promoters, and continue to follow up with phone calls to get their protege on shows. Promoters at all levels receive a mass amount tapes and YouTube links of fighters each week. Boxing managers should follow up with the promoters making phone calls, sending emails and text message to increase their fighter’s chance of getting booked on a card.

You should make a contact list of important names that can be contacted about potential shows. The list shouldn’t be limited to just promoters, matchmakers, and other managers. Journalists, bloggers, and social media influencers could help your protege get on a show as well.

The media plays a big part in the sports world and getting your boxer an interview or having his/her highlights posted on a boxing website could help them get a break. Boxing is a sport in which old-school managers may not be aware of the virtues of the Internet and social media. These are two areas that could help you expose your fighter to the world.

Becoming a successful boxing manager is not easy. You need to work hard and treat your proteges well. Like Adrian Clark, you may even need to carve out your own special niche to hit the big time.

10. Focus on quality and not quantity

If you cannot manage the career of a single boxer, then it is pointless to attempt to add a number of fighters to your stable. Managing the careers of an individual is a full-time job and only experience will make it possible to represent more boxers at some point.

It takes years for boxing managers to earn a reputation that allows them to acquire multiple high-quality boxers to represent. Although you may think it is wise to manager several fighters at one time to maximize your earning capabilities, you are only as good as those fighters you represent.

When starting out, you should focus on building the career of your initial fighter. Once you have identified the fighter you want to represent, sign them to a contract, build their training team, and book a bout. Only after your boxer gets in-ring experience with you as a representative should you look to add more fighters to your management. Getting experience handling the day to day running of a career can be overwhelming. Doing it for more than one boxer can be even more so.

Your boxer is a great advertisement and his/her success will help you add other fighters at some point. Once other boxers want to use your services, however, it is important to not get ahead of yourself. Once your name gets out and other boxers seek your expertise, you shouldn’t take on just anyone. Just like a business, you don’t want to grow too quickly.

You can be picky with the other boxers you sign. Quality is more important than quantity. If you begin representing boxers that are not as good as the previous fighters, then your reputation can decrease. One of the key things to keep in mind is to never be complacent in the world of management, but that also means you shouldn’t add just anyone as a protege.

There are some good reasons that boxing managers assemble a sizable stable and finances are always at the heart of it. A manager’s pay comes from the men and/or women they represent. Therefore, a share of the gross is what is received as payment. However, managers must then deduct the salaries of assistants, staff, and any other personnel that works for them. The money a manager gets for the payoff quickly whittles down. There are other payments a manager must make including rent for an office, gym memberships, and other non-training items. Overhead can cut into a manager’s wallet quickly and deeply. This is why so many managers have several fighters under their leadership.

The more fighters you have, the more money that will roll in. Yet, so often, a fighter can be discarded by a management group that sees them merely as a means to an end. Adrian Clark got into the boxing management world after a friend/boxer approached him for representation. As stated, this boxer was dropped by his management team due to narrowly winning fights. The management team didn’t see a future in the boxer which means they felt he wasn’t going to earn enough money for them. Boxing is a business, but too many managers have their eyes on money and a quantity of fighters rather than building a good reputation with high-quality fighters.

A good manager lines up fights that enables their boxer to learn and to gain wins. Boxers should be challenged by good opponents, improving their skills and rising up the ranks. A manager worth his/her weight won’t make their boxer fight against tomato cans. The training, early fights, and rising through the ranks should be seen as a boxer’s apprenticeship. If a boxer hones his/her skills and learns; it will put him/her in a position to deliver devasting strikes to win bouts.

If you want to be a small-time manager and promoter setting up local fights or working with club fighters, then having a large quantity of boxer might be right. But managers seeking to grow with the business and get as much out of the industry as possible should certainly choose quality boxers over a quantity of them. You may not get the same earnings early on, but in the end, your reputation for representing top-notch boxers will be worth its weight in gold.

Ricky Balladares

I was introduced to Boxing at a very young age and spent most of my time in the boxing gym watching, learning, and studying the sport. After years of learning from some of the greatest boxers in the game, I decided to pursue my dream; I am now a licensed Boxing Manager and would love to share all the knowledge and skill that I have learned over the years with you.

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