For every major fight promotion, there are dozens of other companies that promote fights and matches on a much smaller scale.
The major promotions didn’t become multi-million dollar conglomerates over night. It took time and energy to reach that level. At one point, they were one of those dozens of promotions that are chasing them today.
How does one become relevant player in the game of fight promotion, whether it is boxing, mixed martial arts or professional wrestling?
Tony Shultz is here to provide a blueprint to do just that with his new book titled The Official Fight Promoter Playbook.
In his book, Shultz outlines the necessary components to make a promoter’s event run smoothly and look professional. He covers everything from the very beginning of the process to the very end.
Shultz grew up a boxing fan Dayton, Ohio. He then joined the boxing business when he was a teenager, first as boxer himself, then as someone working behind the scenes.
He soon realized that it became difficult for fighters to find fights with reputable promoters. He then concluded that this was due to a lack of direction with fight promoters. The problem was that there was no real guidelines in doing so.
To him, it was a void that needed to be filled.
“There was always all of these great fighters coming in and out of the gym,” he said. “We had great sparring battles, but it was just very difficult to get a fight and when you did get a fight it was usually for a couple hundred bucks because someone else didn’t make weight and they were just looking for a fill-in kind of thing.”
Shultz then took it upon himself to draw from his years of experience of being around some of the top promoters, fighters, matchmakers and media members to put together an outline of what it took to put together a successful event.
“I wanted to actually take everything that I had learned about what it really takes to promote a fight and give people the opportunity to do it because there’s so many promoters who don’t really have a full concept of putting on a quality event from top to bottom,” Shultz said. “I’ve come across so many guys that want to love boxing, love MMA, love wrestling and would love to put on a couple fights with their friends every year, but there’s no manual for it. There’s no guidebook.”
After attending numerous events and sitting under the learning tree of some of the country’s most knowledgeable promoters, Shultz concluded that a lot of these events lacked in some very important areas. Among them was organization.
From the major things like the venue to minor things such as who was in charge of getting the fighters to the ring, Shultz believes that there needs to be a plan to handle every aspect of the show.
“I’ve noticed that several fights that I’ve gone to by local or regional promoters, it’s a little chaotic as far as when the fighters come out, who’s fighting on the card, the card changes constantly, which happens at weigh-in if you got some local guys that who aren’t making weight,” he said. “It seems to be happening a little bit more frequently based on not getting the right commitments from the right guys.”
Another area Shultz noticed was lacking was proper treatment of the media, which he believes could make or break an event.
“One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard time and time again are from the media, where the media shows up to a fight to get their press credentials and nobody has their press credentials, nobody has them on their list, things of that nature, press row is not taken care of and there’s a disconnect there between the media who wants to right a story — whether they’re writing a story about the event or a lot of the media who follows particular fighters from their local area wanting to tell the story of this fighter and what they’re doing — and that’s lacking.” Shultz said.
“There’s just not enough advertising dollars in the world to replace what the media can do,” he said. “When you think about what the media is, the media tends to be an unbiased third party who is actually giving their unbiased opinion on this event.”
Even when those small things are taken care of, the job of a promoter is just beginning, according to Shultz. He or she has to then connect with the people. At the end of the day, that is the main job of the promoter.
Connecting with the people will then make them more apt to spend their money to see the event.
Making that connection can be done in a myriad of ways, but the best promoters know how to take advantage of all of them or at the very least, as many as possible.
This is what separates the good promoters from the great ones.
“The idea of the playbook is just to give you guidelines, but the promoter has to bring the business to the table,” Shultz said. “They have to bring their personality, they have to bring their vision and they have to really find the angle that they want to sell that particular fight under and sell it to the media.”
Two promoters in particular that do an exceptional job at this are UFC president Dana White and WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
“UFC is just brilliant at marketing,” Shultz said. “Dana White does just an exceptional job of not only putting on battles, fights that are stacked, but he does such a great job of selling it to the media.”
“I think the WWE has such a stronghold on wrestling in general,” he added. “When you think of wrestling, a lot of times the WWE is not only the first thing, but a lot of times the only thing that comes to mind. That’s not a bad thing because there is this opening. There’s plenty of room for other people.”
While wrestling and MMA have enjoyed consistent success, the sport of boxing has taken a step back. Outside of the occasional Floyd Mayweather fight, boxing at large rarely takes center stage on a regular basis.
“I get the sense that in the boxing world that boxing is missing a personality as a promoter, somebody who can go out there and really sell the fight, get people excited about it, explain the details,” Shultz said. “The fighters are all there. There’s a tremendous amount of talents in all of these gyms. In Philadelphia, for example, there are several gyms that have great fighters just waiting for a phone call.”
To gain more of Shultz's insight into what it takes to become a successful promoter, you can purchase The Official Fight Promoter Playbook on Amazon.com.