Entourages in Excess


Boxing is a Dog-Eat-Dog, Survival of the Fittest Business

Sugar Ray Robinson is unquestionably one of the top two or three fighters of all time. He elevated the sport to a new level and has been the model for the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and nearly any boxer who's followed after him in this sport. Unfortunately, he was also the first fighter on record to establish "an entourage."

After his championship win over Jake LaMotta in the early 50's, Sugar Ray took on a manager, a golf pro, his barber, an official "little person" (yeah he hired, staffed and paid a full time dude, who was called a midget back then, just to hang around for publicity.) Ray traveled with his wife and nearly a dozen other hangers-on and spent a significant amount of his earnings to employ a large entourage of supporters. Whether this was done out of a taste for the good life or his propensity to share his success and wealth with others, it was detrimental to his financial longevity and has proven to be a bad example for future fighters.

I've experienced this in my own career as a trainer, manager and promoter and I encourage fighters to be cautiously aware of the people they surround themselves with. I advise them to be very conservative about how many people they allow close to them and discerning about who they "bring into the fold."

The wrong influences can be poisonous. Every friend, family member or casual fan wants to be seen and associate with a successful fighter, but don't fall for it. Like my own fighters, I encourage you to be polite. Be appreciative of fans and supporters, but keep your crew, your inner circle, to a minimum and make sure that it's only made-up-of people who are NECESSARY. If they don't fill a specific need or play a specific role in your success, then they are a distraction to you, your team and they are an unnecessary liability.

Anyone can be your friend, but don't let them into your boxing business, unless they will help you reach or maintain your career goal(s). NO, that's not selfish. Unless they are going to pay your bills, take care of your family, be there after the limelight has faded or clearly have YOUR interests first and foremost in mind, then respectfully keep them at arms-length.

Boxing is a dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest business. I repeat - BUSINESS. It's not personal. Feel OBLIGATED to yourself, to your family and those few who have shown they have believed in you from the start. Aside from that, you don't owe anyone else any allegiances and most definitely not a "job" on your boxing team.

They are not the ones getting hit in the face, so be sure that the people you have in your corner, at least want you to win, succeed and progress for YOUR sake, not THEIRS. They shouldn’t be saying “yes” to your every move and cheering you on just so that they can "stay on the payroll."

Paying the price doesn't mean picking up the tab for anyone and everyone who calls themselves your friend or part of your team. It just means doing what YOU have to do to WIN. That doesn't require an entourage. It requires discipline from you. The type of discipline that sometimes means and includes saying "no."

The bottom line is, you can fill a locker room with your crew, have a posse of people escort you into the ring, but when you climb through the ropes, it’s just down to you and your team. Your cornermen, cutman and you are going to determine the outcome of the fight, so there’s no real reason to make it more complicated than that, before or after the fight. Sometimes all you really need to get the job done is all you really need.