- Boxing promoter Frank Smith tells us how he went from an errand boy to multi-million-pound dealmaker.
- Smith helps look after stars including Anthony Joshua.
- He predicts a bright future for boxing, with broadcasters vying to air fights.
Frank Smith is the latest member of a suit-and-tie revolution punching through boxing traditions.
No longer is the fight game dominated by a limited number of boardroom hands belonging to an ‘old guard’ like Don King. Younger executives have emerged to distribute power across a number of promotional organisations in multiple territories.
Oscar de la Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions), Richard Schaefer (Ringstar Sports), Floyd Mayweather Jr (Mayweather Promotions), and Kelle Sauerland (Sauerland Boxing) will have been used to dealing with 37-year-old Eddie Hearn at Matchroom Sports, but his right-hand man is equally impressive — and he is just 24 years old.
Smith started as a Matchroom errand boy at 14 and took a full-time role for approximately £5 an hour at 16. Eight years later, he finds himself in charge of multi-million-pound fight contracts on behalf of the company’s marquee clients including IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, IBF super middleweight tile holder James DeGale, and IBF welterweight ruler Kell Brook.
“When I went full-time at 16 I did anything from delivering pizza to sorting out whatever the poker players needed during live televised poker events like teas, coffees, whatever,” Smith told Business Insider.
From there, Smith began working across a number of different sports including darts, snooker and golf. His responsibilities included the construction of advertisement boards that would later be picked up by camera crews during the live event.
As the years grew on, he eventually moved into boxing. First, in operations and then, head of operations and now, finally, as head of boxing.
“Now I handle contracts for fighters. I set budgets for shows and liaise with fighters and their management regarding the financial progression of the show. I’m talking ticket sales and TV rights.”
Frank now helps look after the poster boy of British boxing: Anthony Joshua
We spoke to Smith in early March, just after he had visited Wembley Stadium in order to “continue work on the April 29 super-fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.” It’s the biggest match-up of Joshua’s hugely promising career to date, but it is not Frank’s only priority.
“I’m then off to Manchester to work on Anthony Crolla’s rematch against Jorge Linares. Then I’m flying out to Monaco,” he said. “I’m meeting ticketing partners, delivering our box office strategy, going over our site plans for our big stadium fights and trying to work out how I’m going to organise the 400 people we have working at any one of our events over the course of a weekend.”
Managing social media, where Matchroom has nearly 400,000 followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and liaising with athletes’ management teams are also daily priorities for Smith.
“I handle the contractual stuff for our fighters and then deliver their purses [a pre-determined salary for a fight, which can frequently involve seven figure sums],” Smith told Business Insider.
“I liaise with our social media team who do gym visits. I have a day-to-day interaction with fighters. Right now I won’t be in direct contact with Anthony [Joshua] so much as he is deep in training for his huge Wembley fight against Wladimir [Klitschko], but I will still deal with his management.
“We run shows like its all our money, like it’s our bread. Even a £20 bill is accounted for. Anthony has a keen interest in his business. Our quality has therefore always got to be top.”
Why British boxing is on a high
Smith believes there has scarcely been a better time to be involved in boxing promotion, with at least three major broadcasters vying for the right to screen fights. This includes ITV, which launched pay-per-view channel ITV Box Office this year.
“It’s not just Matchroom Boxing and our deal with Sky Sports. You just have to look at ITV arriving with Chris Eubank Jnr. Then there is the BoxNation merger with BT Sport. These are three major broadcasters which shows British boxing is just growing and growing.
“We separate ourselves from the rest of the pack as we deliver a lucrative pay-per-view model [a cut of television money] that our fighters are pleased with.”
Smith recently helped recruit a number of 2016 Olympians but after signing amateur legend and gold medal magnet Katie Taylor to the company roster, one gets the impression that Matchroom — and Smith’s career — will keep growing right alongside the sport of boxing. Not bad for a former errand boy.
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