Boxing as a hobby and sport is great for the mind and body. It’s exercise that gives you agility and sharpens your reactions. If you’ve been boxing for a while, you might be thinking about taking on some paid bouts. There are tournaments you can enter regularly that pay decent money – we’ll talk about how much at different levels in moment – but remember there are fees to pay to other people in many such situations.
Let’s start with this scenario: you’re an experienced amateur who has some decent fights behind him, and now you want to start earning some money in the ring. What can you expect to come away with? Before we get into the money side of things, let’s have a look at the typical route to becoming a pro boxer.
The Road to Earning Money
As you’re already boxing, and we assume putting a lot of time into it, you know that you are going to need to train if you are to go professional. It’s a big step, as it means absolute devotion to the sport at a level you may not even have considered. If you are serious about turning professional you must accept that, for the period of your professional boxing career, it becomes your life.
This means training in every available hour, and with a trainer who you trust. That, of course, is going to cost you money, as it doesn’t come for free. It also means putting your training ahead of your family in many cases: you need to make sure that everyone involved with you understands just how important it is that you get this right.
Furthermore, you’ll also need to stick to a very strict and carefully planned diet; you won’t have much of a social life – no nights out drinking – and you won’t have much time to yourself. All of your efforts will go into ensuring that your boxing career takes the right path, and that means dedication of a level you need to prepare for. You’re still interested? Let’s carry on!
Before you even consider going professional you need to get a strong amateur record of boxing behind you. This is essential not only for experience, but also because you will need to gain certain licences before you are permitted to fight on a professional basis. This sort of rule is not exclusive to boxing, however, as it also applies to many athletic pursuits.
It is advised that you seek to gain experience via recognised tournaments, such as the Golden Gloves of America. This is a national-level tournament that is fully recognised, and that is watched over carefully by people in the business of boxing, and one where amateurs can make a name for themselves. You will require, to gain your licence for fighting in some states, a full medical examination and medical checks, in order to ascertain that you are mentally and physically fit to indulge in the world of amateur and then professional boxing.
Another thing you will need to do if you are looking to go pro is find a manager. Believe us when we say there will too much for you to concentrate on to manage your own career, so you need someone who understands the world of professional boxing – even if it’s just at beginners level – to handle things for you. This will involve booking fights, entering tournaments and – perhaps most important of all – promoting you so that your name gets around.
Taking part in the recognised tournaments will enable you to get seen by those in the management game, which means you can find the best manager to help you kick-start your career. Before we go on to talk about money in a little more detail, a few rods of warning: boxing as a career is not easy, and it does take its toll on you physically. You’ll endure plenty of knocks, and will last a relatively short time. It’s not for you if you think you can just get out there and fight – it really is an all or nothing career. Also, as we are about to explain, while you can make a living boxing, not every professional boxer gets the big-money fights – which is yet another reason you need the right manager and promotion.
We’ll begin with a bit of frank and honest truth: if you think you’re going to earn big money straight away, you’re going to be disappointed. In fact, the simple fact is that – as with all careers in sport – the big money goes to a few names at the very top of the game. Then there’s the various elements that a boxers ‘salary’ consists of.
For the top men, the money comes from the prize fund of the fight, plus sponsorship deals. The latter means that companies pay you a fee for you to promote their goods or services, either by way of endorsement or by carrying their logo on your outfit. Of course, this is only going to be attractive to corporate entities if you are getting exposure.
Now, let’s assume you have made a name for yourself in amateur circles, you’ve secured a good manager, and you have enlisted for a number of pro tournaments – you’re ready to become a professional boxer. How much can you expect to earn? Before we get into the figures, a word of warning: if you’re going into pro boxing with that question in your head – how much do boxers make – your going into it for the wrong reason. You should be at this point because you want to fight, and you want to be the best.
OK, so you want some numbers? How much do beginner boxers make? Let’s have a look: the average earnings, with all taken into account, of a pro boxer in the last year is around $35,000. That’s average, so some have earned less, some more. Now, bear in mind that takes into account all those who are officially pro boxers. The top guys, of course, earn a lot more than that – but you have a long way to go before you reach that level.
You also need to know that this is not your take-home pay; you need to factor in travel costs, management fees – your manager will want a cut after all – and training costs, and all those will come out of your earnings before you can work out what you have actually earned. What we will say is this – there are plenty of tournaments around and with the right management and promotion, and if you are lucky enough to attract sponsorship and your name gets known, you are looking at potentially far higher earnings that the figures mentioned above.
Let’s step up a gear, and assume you’ve turned professional, you’re getting your name about, and you have a good manager who has got you a few small sponsorship and endorsement deals. You might now be in line for some more lucrative prize fights, and that’s part of getting to where the real money is.
Consider this: the richest boxer in the world right now is Floyd Mayweather. He has a net worth of $400million. He got to professional boxing as we have described – via amateur boxing, the Olympic Games, and the US Golden Gloves tournament, which he won three times. That’s the route every professional needs to take, and that’s why you need a very good manager behind you to make sure you get the right prize fights at the one time. Bear in mind that, at one point Mayweather earned $105million for a single fight.
Now contrast Mayweather with the second richest boxer of all time: George Foreman. Foreman, who turned professional in 1969, when there was far less money around in the sport, fought until 1977 when he retired. He then came back in 1987, but he made his real money in endorsements. You’ve heard of the George Foreman range of grills? They’re made by the Russell Hobbs company, and they carry his name, and Foreman can be seen advertising them, to the tune of a colossal $137million. That’s the sort of endorsement deal that only comes by once in a lifetime.
Keep Your Expectations Sensible
As we have said, the key to a successful pro boxing career is to go into it knowing that it’s what you want to do, and to use the experience you have from your amateur days to your advantage. Your training should be top-notch, your diet carefully planned, and your daily routine all about boxing. You’ll be very lucky if you earn a six-figure sum in a year, but it can be done. Instead, look to going professional as a way of paying your bills and earning a keep, and make sure your management and promotion keeps you in the public eye.
The positive thing is that, unlike some sports, there is a lot of money floating around in the world of boxing right now, and it remains a big-ticket sport, so if you get the right fights, who knows where you might end up.