A boxer and his money are soon parted
By Rob Scott (October 26, 2005) 
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Growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn and becoming undisputed heavyweight champions aren’t the only things Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe have in common. Both went on to earn millions only to eventually file for bankruptcy. They’re not the only top fighters to fall into this dilemma either. Fighters before them have experienced the same up and downside in their lives and careers. ‘The Brown Bomber’ Joe Louis and the great ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson were two who also have had and lost.

I think about the countless stories that are written and read everyday about this sport. How many times have we heard of the championship glory achieved by many-a-great fighter in its history? Those many rags-to-riches stories have motivated present fighters to rise above their negative circumstances to become today’s ‘some bodies’. These same fighters were students and use the stories of their predecessors as an education on what to do to achieve high heights in this sport. That’s been all well and good, but what of that story that seems to be an, oh so inevitable one – The proverbial rags-to-riches…straight back to rags tale? While we’ve all indeed read the coming up portions of these stories, the downward spiral section seems to be the ones that some fighters have just skimmed over. Why are these mistakes still being made? When will they end?

I know this is something that happens in all sports and fields, but this is the sport and field that I love more than others. I realize the life of a fighter differs from those other areas. This is a sport that one has to take focus to another level. You have to eat, drink and sleep the sport to survive and excel. But with all of the dedication to homing their in-ring boxing skills, I’ve always wondered, where does that leave a fighter the time to devote to their finances the way they should? In many cases, where does it leave a fighter to even initially learn how to protect and make their money grow for them? Let’s face it; never in their lives have many fighters even had that required knowledge to tend to the enormous amounts of money that some make. It’s because of their lack of this key knowledge ingredient that fighters have won their wars in the ring, but have gotten KO’d outside of it.

I hear post fight interviews all the time with the same words of, “All I do is fight, I let my promoters and managers handle everything else”. This is their response because with most, this is their reality. That just may be a good thing for those who have a knowledgeable and trustworthy person handling their interests, but we all know that not all fighters can say they have that certain person in their financial corner. Vultures and leeches enter lives with stealth precision and some fighters just don’t have the mental radar to see them coming. They are as good as shot down.

I’ve seen those fighters shot down by others, but I’ve also seen those who’ve crashed and burned all by their lonesome. They can only point the finger at themselves. To them it’s been as if tomorrow is something that can’t be seen. They spend-spend-spend, as millions are earned and squandered as if the boxing reality isn’t their reality. That reality is you are mostly viewed as well as you were in your last fight. If you win, you will see another day. If you lose, that future million-dollar payday isn’t promised.

If you haven’t invested well or parlayed your earnings into something that will continue to make money after your ring career is done, then what you have will turn into what you had. Once it is over – then it’s over. When it’s over – the money is gone. There will be nothing saved. There will be nothing invested. There will be nothing left.

I think of a George Foreman who with his smile and charisma parlayed his success and became a fighter/businessman. Others too have invested well and prospered, but not all can or will be a Foreman and move to that next level. I do however believe that more can.

The saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted”, but by all means, I am not calling any fighter a fool. I do think, however, that many are financially uneducated. You can follow in the footsteps of the greatest like Robinson, Louis and even a Tyson or Bowe, but those steps don’t have to guide you from solid ground into the quicksand that was their financial abyss.

Fighters, I challenge you to finish reading the endings to those tales on this sport, because there is something more to be learned between the many lines. Take the time to think about tomorrow. What about life after boxing? How do you want that life to be? How will your story be told? It’s up to you; you can be one of the ones that gets and keeps their money, or one that has played the fool only to be parted from their money. Let's stop playing the fool.
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