Britain’s most renowned boxing promoter reveals his tips for thriving in the workplace
Don’t shy away from the unpleasant stuff
I had to give someone a bollocking this morning – it happens. It was a lawyer, and they were dragging their heels with an upcoming court case. You have to look at each incident and judge your response. Some people you can talk to and they get on with it, some need nudging, and some occasionally need a kick up the arse. Sometimes you just have to raise your voice.
If your job sucks, change it
I had a job in a solicitor’s office for about three months when I was a kid, and I left in a flash. If you’re not enjoying your work, what’s the point? There are some boxing writers who don’t even like the sport – what pleasure can there be in writing about it?
Beat down your detractors
When I first got into boxing, it was run by a cartel of promoters, and they did their best to keep me out of the sport. They had total control – I had to improvise and put shows on in hotels. It’s the nature of the beast in business to try and keep the opposition down, but the more difficult they made it the more determined it made me. They’re all out of the game now.
Stay on top
Years ago, I was advised that the City had to like what I do, that I had to have a presentable business. I became bogged down with accountants and lawyers. I put my trust in those guys. One of my accountants stole money from the company and ended up in jail. Today, if anything goes wrong, it’s gonna be down to me, and not through being bullshitted to.
Don’t take no for an answer
In the early days of the new London Docklands, the local Development Corporation said they wanted to build the London Arena – but they didn’t really. I did. I got a meeting with them, and even my lawyer said it just wasn’t going to happen. It was supposed to be a two-hour meeting – it lasted 23 hours. I wouldn’t let anyone go unless we’d decided one way or the other. The agreement was hand-written there and then.I enjoy putting on big fights. Ambition is a good thing, but you have to temper it so it’s not to the detriment of everything around you.
Treat yourself… occasionally
I like my cars. I’ve got a Bentley, a Rolls-Royce Phantom – you know, a few bits and pieces. Keep an eye on your money – and don’t overstretch yourself. I’m a gambler by nature – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – but I always keep some in reserve.
A lot of people don’t keep time as well as I do, and that means on occasions I’m late. I always like to be on time. A few years ago, I had a really big meeting and was late, and the guy I was meeting was pissed off, and I was pissed off that he was pissed off. But I was even more pissed off at the people who’d made me late. And you have to apologise if you’re late – it’s discourteous to just roll up. Otherwise, you’re just pig-ignorant.
To buy tickets to see Calzaghe fight Mikkel Kessler on Nov 3 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, call Seetickets on 0870 060 3794
1967 Solicitor’s office, London
“I learned I wasn’t suited to office life, so I got out fast.”
1967-1968 Smithfield and Covent Garden markets – porter and salesman
“I enjoyed it – and lots of my mates were there, too.”
1969-1972 Self-employed – meat and building trades
“I’d set up on my own by now – I had quite a few people working for me.”
1973-1975 Pool table importer
“That and vending machines had become all the rage – there was good money in it. I was there right at the time of the big boom.”
1975-1980 Unlicensed boxing promoter
“My distant cousin, Lenny McLean, had a fight with a bloke called Roy Shaw, and got beat. I was in his corner for the return, which he won. For the third fight, I said, ‘Why don’t we promote it?’, and that’s how I got involved.”
1980-present day boxing promoter and chairman of Sports Network
“It’s a different world these days. The boxers at the top earn huge sums, and rightly so. You’ve got Calzaghe (below) and Kessler fighting soon, and we’re expecting 50,000 people. The stuff that goes on outside the ring can be a pain, but on the night of the show, I get a lot of pleasure out of it.”