Natasha Jonas will always be remembered as a trailblazer for women’s boxing.
She was the first female to box for Great Britain at the Olympic Games, which came at London 2012 where only lost out on a medal after running into an inspired Katie Taylor.
Now Jonas will tread new ground once more as the first black woman to obtain a manager’s licence from the British Boxing Board of Control.
Not to be confused with the role of promoter, a manager is a vital cog in any boxer’s career – navigating a path to the top of the sport with strong leadership and canny match-making.
Jonas’ first client will be Mikie Tallon, and if he can achieve anything like the career of his WBC, WBO and IBF light-middleweight champion of a manager, he will do just fine!
What is a Manager in Boxing?
The manager is a fighter’s sole representative when it comes to making a bout happen – forget promoters, forget trainers….it’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure their client’s best interests are upheld.
That includes targeting potential opponents, discussing the terms of a fight with their opposite number and ensuring that their boxer gets the best possible deal, from a cut of any PPV income to a healthy slice of the purse.
The manager is paid a cut of the fighter’s purse for their services, so it pays for them to seek out the finest deal for their client – this can often be the reason why ‘mega fights’ between two top-ranked foe might never happen.
What is the Difference Between a Manager and Promoter?
Once a deal for a fight has been struck by the managers of each fighter, the job of the chosen promoter is to then make the contest happen from a logistical standpoint.
They will select the date and the venue, while taking control of the marketing and promotional elements of bringing the fight to the people – hence why they are often known as ‘hype men’ within the sport.
Ultimately, a promoter either makes or loses money based upon how well-attended and watched, via PPV, the fight card is – the combatants’ purse is taken from this overall pot of money, which explains why many boxers will be left feeling short-changed in the manner in which promoters slice and dice the cash.
Famous Boxing Managers
Whenever talk turns to boxing managers, inevitably it’s Don King that’s the first name that springs to mind.
Famous for his shock of white hair, King was renowned within the sport for being a shrewd operator in his two-decade long career, and without him it’s possible that some of the most iconic fights in history – including the Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila – might not have happened.
But King’s managerial career did not pass without controversy, and as well as serving two terms in prison for violent offences he was sued by a number of his stable of fighters for defrauding them out of money that they were owed.
If controversy is a key weapon in the arsenal of a boxing manager in a bid to make their clients more marketable – if not always for the right reasons, Dennis Rappaport takes some stopping.
He became infamous in his work building the career of Gerry Cooney, who was a solid if unspectacular heavyweight who boasted a CV of wins against journeymen pros and those past their best.
But Rappaport created a monster when managing Cooney, turning his fights into an almighty spectacle complete with dancing girls, dwarfs and X-rated comedians. After knocking out the legendary Ken Norton, Cooney – thanks to his manager’s unique stylings – would secure a dream fight with Larry Holmes at Caesars Palace in 1982, losing via a thirteenth-round knockout.
As mentioned, a boxing manager’s main focus is to score as handsome a payday as possible for their clients, and few were as skilled in that department as Butch Lewis.
— Boxing History (@BoxingHistory) June 12, 2017
He, famous for wearing a tuxedo and bow tie without a shirt, managed the career of the Spinks brothers, Leon and Michael, who were touted as the bright young things of American boxing after both won gold at the 1976 Olympic Games.
Lewis managed to score a date with Muhammad Ali for Leon, who defeated the punch-drunk Ali late on in the legend’s career, while his managerial prowess turned Micheal into one of the most marketable heavyweights around – he beat both Holmes and Cooney – before a show-stopping date with Mike Tyson in 1988.
Dreams of unifying the heavyweight division came to a crashing halt, however, when Tyson knocked Spinks out after just 80 seconds – Lewis, in customary fashion, at least managed to secure his client a $13.5 million pay packet….not bad for a minute or so’s work.