Bob Arum Interview
He is the Chairman of
The Board of Top Rank, Inc. and one of boxings leading promoters. He is Bob
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
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
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
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
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
Q - As a promoter, are you more involved in the negotiating end of the
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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