Dec 292011
boxer Ronald Cruz

Ronald Cruz

A professional fighter should have a team he can trust, a team that knows the sport and is dependable. The manager and trainer should be interactive and do what is best for the fighter. When a manager and trainer are divided it puts more stress on the fighter and does not allow him to focus on his job–training.

The problem is that there is always someone in a fighter’s ear and I have seen this happen over and over. People who have never developed a fighter from scratch suddenly “know” what is best for a promising fighter in most cases, but not all of them. There’s an old saying: “When you have something good don’t go looking for something better.” If a fighter has worked with a manager and trainer for a period of time and has loyalty, the fighter should stay put because it is probably the best thing for him long-term.

When a fighter has a manager saying one thing and a trainer saying something opposite, it can cause confusion. Communication between manager and trainer is important. However, if a manager is not involved with his fighter’s career, other than to pay the fighter or to sign contracts, then a fighter has a paper-pusher behind him, not a real manager.

Two examples of good teams: manager/trainer Rodney Rice with cruiserweight Garrett Wilson; manager/trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards with junior middleweight Julian Williams. Rice and Edwards not only manage their fighters, but also train them. They know their fighters better than anyone.

Trainers should be able to focus on their specialty, whether it is strength training, conditioning or just plain mental strengthening. The head trainer should have the final say and it should be respected. However, if other members of the team have something to say, the lines of communication should be open so that everyone is on the same page.

A trainer should be the closest person to the fighter and should know the fighter better than anyone else, in and out of the ring. The bond between trainer and fighter used to be sacred, but today it is rarer to find a fighter who not only trusts his trainer, but also believes in his trainer as much as he believes in himself.

The role of the manager has changed. Once, managers used to be born-and-bred boxing people. They were gym rats. They knew the sport better than fighters and trainers. Those days have passed. I can count on one hand how many managers I talk who interact with their fighters on a daily basis and who know their fighter’s capabilities.

A good manager does not have to train his fighter, but he does need knowledge of the sport to make decisions for his fighter and stand behind those decisions. A perfect example is former PA State Lightweight champion Jimmy Deoria, of Phoenixville, PA, who manages undefeated welterweight Ronald Cruz (15-0, 12 K0s), of Bethlehem, PA. Deoria looks out for his fighter and, even though he does not train Cruz, he often is ringside at Cruz’ sparring sessions, alongside trainer Lemuel Rodriguez.

There are other good local managers. Doc Nowicki and Jim Williams look out for all of their fighters, from a four-round newcomer like junior welterweight Naim Nelson (3-0) to world-rated super bantamweight Teon Kennedy (17-1-1, 7 K0s) to undefeated welterweight contender Mike Jones (26-0, 19 K0s). They work well with trainers Rory Bussey (with Nelson), Wade and Randy Hinnant (Kennedy), and Vaughn Jackson (Jones).

When a fighter looks to turn pro he sometimes loses sight of the importance of having a knowledgeable manager. It is common for a fighter to be blinded by a potential manager who often will pay the fighter a monthly salary, instead of signing with a manager who knows the ins and outs of the business and is capable of guiding the fighter throughout his career.

When a fighter’s team involves an adviser, instead of a promoter, the team feels a bit safer. It might be because they feel like they have more control, but in some cases it works great. If a fighter has been double-crossed or his team has been double-crossed, the chances of him wanting an adviser, with or without a promoter, seem to increase.

Sponsors play a huge spot in major sports like football and basketball and baseball, but when it’s a struggling sport like boxing, sponsors become much more important. If a fighter is lucky he gets to a point in his career where people want to sponsor him. This can either be through clothing, expenses paid for, money, etc. When it comes to small-club promoters, sponsors can keep them alive and become the backbone of their operation.

The role of the promoter has changed. So-called big-time promoters depend on television to help cover their expenses. It is also common for promoters to depend on casinos to give them huge site fees or guarantee they will buy a certain number of tickets. When these things occur, promoters lose the desire to market their fights themselves. From boxing’s early days in the 1890s right up through the 1970s, promoters had to sell their fight cards to the ticket-buying public. They made money off the gate. The only promoters doing that today are the small-club promoters. However, they are the backbone of the sport.

Anyone can call himself a promoter today if he secures a television and/or casino deal because there is a steady flow of cash for himself and the fighters. Sometimes I question who the real paper-pushers are, the mangers or some of the so-called big-time promoters. Promoters are missing that bond with their fighters that promoters had years ago.

Today’s so-called big-time promoters have close relationships with people who make the decisions at television companies. The fact that they control the majority of the television dates often has nothing to do with the quality of the fights they offer. Often, these promoters sign too many fighters they pick and choose which fighters to throw to the wolves instead of putting their faith in every one they sign.

If boxing truly had a level playing field, where only the best fights were televised, regardless of whether they were offered by the so-called big-time promoters or a small-club promoters, boxing would be in a much better place. Perhaps I am only dreaming!

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Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC.  You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at  Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing.