Boxing matches don't just happen. Fight promoters are the people responsible for recruiting fighters, setting up matches, advertising the events, and covering the expenses of the timekeepers, referees and medical personnel. If you want a promoter's gig in the boxing business, you need to get a license first.
To become a fight promoter, apply for a license with your state boxing commission. Talk to surety companies about taking out a bond to cover any financial shortfalls at events. With the paperwork done, start talking to fighters about signing with you and then work on setting up matches for them.
Three hundred years ago, all a successful boxing match needed was two people ready to punch each other's lights out and advertising to draw an audience. In the 21st century, displays of the "sweet science" have to comply with federal law. For fight promoters, that means dealing with the state boxing commissions that oversee the boxing business.
Federal law says a legal boxing match can only happen under the supervision of a boxing commission. Many state laws require you apply to the commission for a promoter's license. In Pennsylvania, for example, boxing promotion companies must pay a $100 fee and undergo a criminal background check to become licensed.
In Pennsylvania and other states, posting a surety bond before an event is a requirement. The bond guarantees that if the boxing promotion company goes belly up, everyone involved is still paid. It's a good idea to talk to a surety company in advance before the bond becomes necessary.
Fight promoters work for themselves, but they can't succeed alone. The fight game's financial success depends on boxers putting on a dynamic show. In the 21st century, a big successfully promoted fight can draw not only an audience at the event but a crowd of eyeballs watching on pay-per-view TV as well.
As a promoter, you're not the boxer's manager. You're closer to a record label signing a singer or a movie studio hiring an actor. The manager negotiates with you for the fighter's share of the revenue. Many promoters squeeze as much money out of fighters as possible. Being honest and fair can go a long way toward advancing your career.
Expect to start small. A-list superstar promoters negotiate pay-per-view fees with cable companies for world heavyweight matches. You may have to settle for local matches with state welterweight champions until you make it to the big leagues.
After you persuade a fighter to sign with you, you have to arrange a match. As a promoter, everything in and around the ring is your responsibility, from the refreshments to the referees. Promoting in the boxing business is expensive, which is why boxing commissions want you to take out the bond to cover any shortfalls.
A lot of your work comes before the show.
- You negotiate a contract with the venue.
- If the event needs to be insured, that's your responsibility.
- All contracts have to be signed on time and approved by the boxing commission. There's a whole lot more paperwork the commission may want, including details of the fight, security arrangements, names of the attending doctor, floor plan of the venue, licenses of the boxers and other professionals.
- Boxing promotion companies have to promote. Your boxing promoter salary comes out of the receipts after all the bills are paid. If the clash of titans you've arranged doesn't generate attention and ticket sales, you're looking at a poor payday.
A century ago, boxing revenues came entirely from the people seated at ringside. As with other sports, TV rights are now a huge revenue stream for the fight game. However, it's not an easy stream to tap.
Boxing and broadcasting are tied up in a complex, convoluted web. Big promoters have deals with HBO, Showtime and other cable companies, while others sign with the major networks for boxing broadcast specials.
When a boxing promoter starts out, competing at this lofty level is a long shot. If your boxers reach the point where they can get on the card with one of the bigger names, whose promoter already has a TV deal, you may have a chance at a larger payday than you've seen before.