First of an occasional series featuring women in boxing.
When Michelle Rosado’s colleagues talk about what makes her stand out, one word comes up consistently.
Ask her about boxing history, or go to a promotional event, and it’s obvious why. She recites past fights with a thoughtful, lively cadence. Her eyes widen and her hands start moving, almost as though she’s honoring past battles with her disposition. Breathing life back into the ring.
It’s this passion that has led Rosado to contribute to a growing movement of women in a male-dominated sport. It drove her to leave a stable job in engineering and fight through the adversity she faced while trying to climb the ranks of the boxing industry.
Now, she’s in an understudy role with International Boxing Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz. She’s become one of the rising stars in the Philly boxing scene, creating paths for women trying to take on new roles in boxing.
“She’s going to be bigger than U.S. Steel,” Peltz said, paraphrasing the famous line from The Godfather Part II.
Rosado, a Bristol native, is the founder and CEO of “Raging Babe,” a fight promotion company carrying her nickname that has its first card coming Feb. 8 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia.
She grew up around boxing. Her dad, Anibal Rosado, took her to fights in the Philadelphia area when she was a kid. She moved to Phoenix around 2005, had her first show in 2011, and started working with Philadelphia middleweight Gabriel Rosado (no relation) in 2012.
Until 2016, Rosado had a day job as an HVAC engineer. She moved to Las Vegas to advance her career, but gave up the security to go all-in on boxing.
“That’s the type of mentality she has,” Gabriel Rosado said. “She had a job where she was set, making good money, and she let all that go. That says a lot right there. Boxing is a sport run by men, so women get a hard time in boxing. It’s hard enough just for guys. For a woman, it’s that much tougher. For her to pursue this says a lot about her character.”
A call from Brittany Rodgers, a staff member at Joe Hand Promotions and another protege of Peltz, persuaded Rosado to return home to learn the ropes.
Now, she divides her time, 75-25, between Philadelphia and Phoenix. When in Phoenix, she stays with her mom. When in Philadelphia, she goes between Peltz’s house and friends’ places.
She said some people have the misconception that it’s a glamorous lifestyle, but those around her know that her focus is always on her work.
Peltz said he sometimes can’t even get her out to dinner with him and his wife. Those in the industry have noticed her intensity.
“She is one of the most dedicated promoters I’ve ever met,” Rodgers said. “I’ve worked with Russell [Peltz] since 2011, and there haven’t been many people that he has taken under his wing. I like to think the people he does [mentor] like Michelle are people that he knows are special and that they have potential in this industry."
Joe Hand Jr., president of Joe Hand Promotions, said: “He probably looks and sees a young Russell Peltz in her. He sees someone who lives and breathes boxing 24 hours a day. Like anybody that has a passion for something, if you can find a person that shares that passion, you want to pass that on.”
Rosado left a job with Mayweather Promotions, founded by boxing great Floyd Mayweather, in Las Vegas, to rejoin the local boxing scene under Peltz’s mentorship. It was a decision that, for some, raised eyebrows. But it was an easy one for Rosado.
“I upgraded. I’m with a legend,” she said. “I’ve learned how to do shows the right way and how to treat it like a business, not just a hobby. It’s been five years now, carrying his spit bucket, carrying his briefcase. It’s finally paying off.”
Rosado, whose family is from Puerto Rico, is accustomed to friction in the industry, whether it be for her gender or her ethnicity. Her house has been vandalized, tickets have been thrown in her face, and she has been called several slurs.
She draws strength from remembering how Gabriel Rosado gave her an opportunity when she was an unknown.
But she has seen the impact that women behind the scenes have had on the fight-promotion business and was inspired to create a network of them.
In 2012, she started hosting an annual brunch for women in the boxing business to meet and connect, called the “Raging Babe Brunch.” Rosado said 120 women attended last year.
“Women in boxing are the engine,” Rosado said. “If you look at all the big companies, they have an army of women that make the engine go. … We may not be the faces of them, but we’re definitely the engine. That’s why the brunches were so important to me, to bring these women together.”
It’s not clear what’s next for Rosado. She has been spending her days in the area, promoting an eight-bout card titled “Philly Special,” headlined by a fight between local boxer Christian Carto and experienced southpaw Victor Ruiz. When she can, she still helps Gabriel Rosado with marketing.
“If I make it, I make it. If I fail, I fail. At least I can say I tried," said Rosado, going on her third year dedicated to the boxing business. "I’ve been married to boxing. Eating, sleeping, and breathing it.