Promoters and managers run the sport of boxing. Traditionally, promoters market a bout and drive up prices to watch the fight both in person and on television. Meanwhile, a manager’s role is to negotiate the best deals for boxers and do all other things necessary to ensure that the clients’ best interests are always a top priority.
Adrian Clark was a boxer who never had a professional path ahead of him. Instead, he chose to become certified as a National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) player agent and had a bit of success before making his way to the sport of boxing. He went from true rags to being on the path to riches and has plans to break the world of boxing through innovation, which may upset many who have built immense wealth on the backs of boxers.
How to Clark broke the steep barrier to entry in boxing.
Luck is often an element that guides an individual on the path to success, but it is quite common that the person does something to put himself in the right place at the right time. That was certainly the case with boxing manager Adrian Clark.
“I was an amateur boxer while finishing up my undergraduate studies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and I trained at the Neighborhood Center Boxing Gym with some very talented boxers,” explained Clark. “In my first Golden Glove tournament, I met local pro and amateur standout Jerry Belmontes; he was 10-0 at the time. Jerry and I would see each other out in Corpus Christi and of course at boxing events.”
From the beginning, there was a mutual respect between Clark and Belmontes. One day, while Clark was in Corpus Christi visiting, Belmontes asked Clark to come by his gym. He was coming off of a win, but it was not impressive, so his promoter (Top Rank) and manager had both jumped ship.
“He asked me to be his representative,” said Clark. “It’s history from there. I remember driving back to the hotel totally blown away and extremely nervous, because I did not know one thing about the boxing industry. I did not let Jerry know that though! I acted as if I had managed for decades!”
The difficulty of growing a business without real experience.
All of Clark’s issues stemmed from him being very inexperienced about the boxing business. He had to learn everything on the fly and pretend that he knew things, when in actuality he knew very little.
“My work ethic and ability to connect with people is what set me apart in boxing,” said Clark. “I kept to myself and looked to network with everyone. I was a bit of a pest. You have to be when you are trying to make a name! I would send emails to everybody who was somebody in boxing. I was always working, researching and thinking of ways to innovate the sport.”
When you do not know much about the business you are in, you reach out to others who have the experience you crave. It worked for Clark.
What does an entrepreneur do with $3.17 in his bank account?
Clark vividly recalls checking his bank account and seeing a total of $3.17 left to his name. He was three months behind on his car note. Clark had been rejected by five different companies on an idea that he believed was sure to succeed.
What helped him become who he is today? Clark says it was being able to weather the storm of entrepreneurship.
“I’ve literally been through and survived the worst of the worst as an entrepreneur!,” exclaimed Clark. “When you can experience all those things, yet you get up and still go balls-to-the-wall because you believe in your idea and you don’t want to fail . . . that’s when you’ll know you are a true entrepreneur. I still have a lot to learn but I really like who I am becoming.”
Clark has already been acknowledged for his growth in the field of boxing, recently being named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in Sports.
What is Clark’s big plan to disrupt the business of boxing?
“It starts with the Boxer-Manager affairs,” explained Clark. “The professional boxer is a business owner. His name is his company and his brand. The boxers contract the services of a manager to be their spokesperson but oddly enough, the spokesperson has the boxer under contract!”
Clark’s master plan is to disseminate a new boxer-manager agreement that allows the boxer entitlements that he is commonly not granted in a traditional managerial agreement. It provides the boxer an 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.
“This is revolution! If you want different results, you have to do something different,” added Clark. “I am currently stirring the pot up differently than what people are used to. They should honestly be afraid of what I’m going to do next. About time they read this though . . . it’ll be too late.”