Bob Arum Interview

He is the Chairman of The Board of Top Rank, Inc. and one of boxings leading promoters. He is Bob Arum.

Bob graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and joined the U.S. Attorney's Office under Attorney General Robert Kennedy. He made a name for himself, as one of the more outstanding tax attorneys in the government, winning landmark decisions against Con Edison, Standard Oil, National City Bank, and shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.

After President Kennedy's death, Bob left the govern­ment and entered private practice. One of his clients, Lester Malitz, asked him to handle the close circuit telecast negotiations of Floyd Patterson's fight against George Chuvalo. From that point on, Bob was off and running the very first fight he promoted was the world heavyweight championship between Muhammad Ali and George Chuvalo.

In 1970, Bob Arum launched Top Rank, Inc. Since then, he's promoted such fights as Muhammed Ali - Leon Spinks, all of Marvelous Marvin Hagler's title fights, and most of the major fights of Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, Ray Mancini, Muhammad Ali, and Carlos Monzon.

Among the fights, Bob Arum is currently working on, is the Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns re-match, set for June 12th in Las Vegas.


Q - You gave an interview last year in which you said, "Boxing is in for a tremendously hard time. It'll appeal to a smaller and smaller group of people." With all that's been written about Mike Tyson's personal life, has this turned more people onto boxing or off of boxing?
A - Well, it's hard for me to say. I think essentially, it probably has evened out. But, what's turned people on is that we've had a series of excellent fights. In the last 3 months you could feel the increase of interest in boxing. What that's attributable to other than there have been some great fight, I'm not sure. The ESPN ratings for our Top Rank boxing show which is a good barometer are up incredibly, unbelievable numbers, the highest ratings we've had in the 9 years we've done the show.

Q - You mentioned in this same interview, that we were going to see some terrible scandals. About the only scandal in boxing has been the Mike Tyson, Robin Givens divorce.
A - No. I wasn't referring to that.

Q - And, speaking of Mike Tyson, is there anybody, anywhere in the world who could give Mike Tyson a real challenge?
A - Yeah. I think (Evander) Holyfield is about a year away. And this kid, Ray Mercer, the Olympic Heavyweight champion is a possibility about a year from now. Right now, the answer is no, except that Tyson, of his last performance, could be had, yeah. But I would assume that if he fought anybody credible he would be in much better shape and more prepared for the fight.


Q - If you go into a gym, and you see a guy, sparring or working out, can you tell if he's championship material?
A - No. That's only in the movies. You can't do that. The guys you know who are championship material, essentially by their records in the Amateurs. So, there are no surprises. The Amateurs are like the Minor Leagues, and you can tell. You can sometimes be wrong, but you can tell pretty much if a guy is going to be a good professional fighter by how he did in the Amateurs.

Q - You want the Federal Government to regulate boxing. Why haven't we seen any movement in that direction?
A - Well, we have seen movement in that direction. The House of Representatives passed a bill in the last session. It died in the Senate. But, you know, there's been so much anti-regulation sentiment in Washington, that even though this type of regulation is needed and would be welcomed by the industry, there has been impotence against regulation. But, I think that may change this Session.

Q - You say that fighters today are getting ripped off worse than they ever were. Who can a boxer trust to look after his earnings?
A - Well, a boxer has to have good people with him. He should have a good lawyer, a good manager, you know who's an honest guy, and there are many of them, who are good, honest people. But, there are a lot of scoundrels involved.

Q - As a promoter, are you more involved in the negotiating end of the business?
A - Well, it's mainly administrative. Making things run, particularly promotion, is creative also. But, it's essentially mounting the promotions.

Q - Sports Illustrated Magazine asks, "Where is the sport in two men punching each other"? How would you answer that?
A - It is generally a very skillful sport, because there's so much technique that goes into it, that the public is un-informed about Angles. For example; Roberto Duran is a perfect example of a tremendously skilled fighter, who will, even though his opponent may have physical attributes that are much greater. Duran because he understands the sport and the skill involved, will generally do far better physically than you would think. Sugar Ray Leonard is great because he understands the technical aspects of the sport. So, on a level where you have two guys who know nothing and aren't skillful, pounding each other, it is like a brutal, insane sport. But, on another level where you have people who really understand the skills involved, it is an extremely fascinating, interesting sport.

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