Basic Fundamentals
  
  
When 90,000 people file through the Wembley turnstile in April to witness Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko share a ring, there is a good chance it will light the flame of ambition within some.  It may be that an aspiring amateur gains the extra motivation and desire to want the same, or a talented white collar fighter makes their mind up that now is their time to become an established professional in the sport.  Joshua himself will only be in his 19th bout and fighting for the second time at the home of football; there will be hundreds that want in on the action.
 
Unfortunately for 99.9% of the country though, they have never won an Olympic boxing gold medal.  Nor a silver.  Or a bronze for that matter.  Joshua is, and always has been since becoming a professional, the chosen one of British boxing in this era.  Not that he hasn’t grafted as hard as any other or that he doesn’t deserve the success, he does, but he has been lucky enough to have the right interest in him and team around him to nurture it.  For those that get inspired enough on the 29th April to join the pro ranks then, what are the fundamentals that they should get in place before stepping into a ring?
 
Well, of course there are the somewhat obvious.  Talent, would be helpful.  A stable training regime and Coach, one with experience of the professional scene or if not, then one that is trusted implicitly.  A Manager and Promoter (and make sure that you know the difference) that have handled aspiring talents before.  Again, if you haven’t got that medal around your neck, rule yourself out of the Frank Warren/Eddie Hearn marketplace immediately.  But there are plenty, the likes of Steve Goodwin who has approaching 100 fighters on his Management books, who handle boxers from world championship contenders through to travelling journeymen.  On top of that, he has taken the young and promising and turned them into belt holders.  There are others like him around the country, diligently working on behalf of their charges. 
 
It is an accepted evil that fighters entering the sport will have to sell approximately 100 tickets per fight just to cover the costs of getting into the ring.  Add in annual medicals and licence cost as well as training and travelling, plus the cost of Coaches, Managers etc (who will typically work on a % basis) and the task of becoming established is huge.  So what would be beneficial to someone looking to make a mark in the professional sport?  The following list may not be exhaustive, but I hope it can be beneficial (and as a caveat, this is from experience of viewing it, rather than experience of doing it)…..
 
Social Media
Any single fighter out there that doesn’t harness the power of social media is missing an immediate route to fans. Boxing fans, by their nature, will support young and upcoming fighters and pay an interest in their careers.  The cynicism typically comes in at the far higher levels.  So get yourself on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and any other platform you can and make a presence for yourself.  Not all boxers ooze charisma but then fans don’t necessarily expect it – what they do appreciate is interaction.  Follow people (only online, they don’t appreciate it on the street).  Follow thousands, anyone that comes up when you type ‘boxing’ into Twitter.  There’s a good chance that when they browse your bio they might follow you back.   

I have seen fans at York Hall wanting selfies taken with a fighter making his debut.  Be a professional sportsman, have THAT persona.  There isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between how many followers, likes or retweets a boxer has and how many tickets they are able to shift for a fight, but these social interactions undoubtedly create an increase in attention, a reach to potential fans. 

Of course it is difficult to balance a work life, training, fighting and being at home, but if you’re signing up to become a professional then that is the sacrifice you are making.  The ability to fit 20 minutes per day into managing a social media platform and building a fan base should always be a part of that.
 
Giveaways
Who doesn’t like something for free?  Boxing fans always appreciate a giveaway; team t-shirt, cap, a glove, maybe even tickets?  Put a signature on it and you can be sure to raise interest.  Now what?  Well, tell your followers to share the post, and those that share and follow you back go into the draw to win.  Simple.  Spread it far and wide for free, ensure your brand is seen by as many eyes as possible.

Yes, it may cost a few quid to do so, but it’s an investment in yourself.  A small cost to pay for building the platform and audience that will hopefully help you in the long term.
 
PR Team
It may seem excessive, hiring a PR consultant/team to handle your career before you have even laced up a glove, but they can serve a vital part in helping a novice fighter.  Again, let’s rule out the Saatchi & Saatchi of this world and look a little deeper, you will find a number of people that specialise in just this area.  Their aim will be to get you as much as exposure as possible, as many interviews as you can fit into a day.  The purpose?  To build your brand.  You are responsible for how big you become, there are those that have done it before and can give you a hand. 

The likes of Tim Rickson, JFB Promotions, Portobello PR; a small list of names, but some of those that are tried and tested in boxing (others are available of course).  The more your name is out there, the more that you build familiarity to boxing fans.  In the grand scheme of UK life, boxing fans only make up a small percentage of people, therefore targeting them really should not be too difficult.

There is a good chance they will take a small fee or a percentage of income through sponsorship, but they are also taking a lot of work off of your hands, lining you up to get the exposure that you would otherwise have to fit around the other areas of life.

There are a lot of good websites out there, or social media accounts that will publish interviews with fighters of all levels.  British Boxing Blog, FightTalk, Hit Hard News, the likes of James Lupton and Shaz Chaudry; all people that want to help give a leg up to the up and coming.  Make sure you get familiar with them and take advantage of the platform they can offer you.
 
Sponsors
Of course, this is what the majority of the above is aimed at, bringing in sponsors.  Businesses that can help support the cost of becoming a professional and maintaining it, perhaps even buy a few tickets off of you.  Be realistic, it’s unlikely someone is going to give you thousands of pounds at the start, but instead support you on a fight-by-fight basis. 

It’s a saturated marketplace, Boxrec currently lists 978 active UK boxers.  However in 2016, there were a recorded 5.4 million businesses.  Therefore on average, there are 5,521 businesses per boxer within the UK.  Be wise; write well constructed emails to them, aim locally first of all (it’s always good PR for them to be able to support someone in the nearby vicinity) and point out the benefits.  This comes back to the exposure you’re offering them – the mentions in every interview, a place on the team t-shirt, a logo on the fight shorts, regular mentions across social media.  Make it worth THEIR money to support you.  Get someone who is a competent writer to handle the email for you, if needs be pay them a small amount to do so.  Again, it is the investment within yourself.  Make sure you don’t forget to point out that it is tax deductible.
 
A website
It may seem daunting, building a website from scratch.  But without it, where do you point people?  Social media is immediate; post a video clip of a fight and people see it there and then.  Put it on a website, you can always point people at it.  Tell people about yourself, give them a reason to invest in YOU and not another fighter.  Again, build that brand.
You can store clips of fights, write a small biography, tell people when fights are coming up, tell them where to get tickets and importantly, give a dedicated page to those sponsors, make them feel special.  You don’t need to be able to do it yourself, get a friend or pay someone a small amount to do a basic site.  Again, invest in yourself at the start.
 
It isn’t exhaustive and it doesn’t guarantee income, success or longevity in the sport.  What the above is, is a list of some of the fundamentals I would encourage any newcomer to professional boxing to put in place.  Being a professional boxer isn’t just about stepping between the ropes and picking up money to do so, it isn’t just about the training or the sacrifices.