Friday, December 11, 2015

Would You Fight For Free?

In looking at how people perceive combat sports today, they think fighters make a lot of money. Boxers make the most money (guys like Pacquiao, Mayweather, etc.) Top fighters in the UFC make good money. A few kick boxers can make decent money if they are a top fighter in a promotion like Glory. Anyway, if money is your motivation to fight, then don't. Most high level, highly paid boxers start boxing as children. They develop their skills and accolades in the amateurs. Those that make it to the Olympics will most likely earn more in their first pro fight than others fighting their 20th pro fights (who've had to work their way up). There are journeyman fighters who make their living taking punishment and are just good enough to hang in their with promising fighters, sometimes pulling off upsets. Growing up watching boxing and kickboxing, I got into competitive side as an extension of my training in traditional martial arts. I wanted to experience some realism of combat. Through kickboxing, I trained with a lot of good boxers and developed decent hands. As an amateur you made no money. You did it for fun and develop your skills should you turn pro. I fought my first kickboxing fight in 1985. After 3 amateur fights, I turned pro. Back then martial artist go their amateur experience competition in Karate tournaments. To be a good kick boxer, you went to a boxing gym to get your hands right and fought a few amateur fights and turned pro. Very few fighters were ever able to compete for a living. I knew of less than a handful who trained and fought full time. And they weren't able to do that but for a short time. I could make a couple of hundred dollars for 4 or 5 round fight. When I started boxing professional in the early 90s I could make a $75-$100 a round. Like kickboxing, I turned pro after 3 matches. Because I had fought as a pro kick boxer, I could not box amateur, even though they are 2 different sports. But, in the amateurs, if you participated in any sport were you got paid as a pro, you were ineligible to compete in amateur boxing. Anyway, my lack of amateur experience was made up for by the experience I gained working out with top amateur and pro fighters. This was the case for me in kickboxing and boxing, as I was always around a lot of talent. Over the years I would fight and the money was never an issue to me. I fought a boxing match that paid $400 bucks once and ended up getting stitches that cost almost the same. I fought a kickboxing match for $250 against a 2X World Champion and got a torn ACL that required surgery. Luckily, I had a job with health insurance. Later in my career, when I got a couple of titles, I as able to get some sponsorship that allowed me to travel and compete for a little more money. I could make from $2000 up to $12,000 in some instances. Keep in mind, you don't get to keep all of that. I still got some more stitches and another torn ACL. But, I never fought for any big money anyway. I competed for the thrill and challenge. I just liked to fight. So, to the young fighters reading this, fight for fun and train for the sake of training. If the opportunity comes for you to make a lot of money, by all means for it (know that you will have to pay your dues first), but don't base you existence in the game on it. There are a lot of easier ways to money. Money was never the motivator for me as a competitor. Let's say, that there was never money to made from you competing, so the thought of money never entered your mind. Guess what? You'd do it for free.

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