Crooks or Cretins?
Back in the summer of 2006, I wrote a series of articles explaining the importance of utilizing MySpace to market boxing. One was called The Dinosaurs Come Home to Roost, which appeared on Bragging Rights Corner and in other places in various forms, including TapouT Magazine.
Little came of that effort, except for the establishment of a MySpace page for DiBella Entertainment (which has not received enough support from DBE), and a positive review of my piece by staff writer David Utter in Web Pro News.
Even today, virtually the entire boxing establishment continues to ignore the MySpace Boxing Forum, despite the fact that this group, which is free to join, has, as of this writing, 7184 members, a number which is continually rising. How much do you think it would cost these Einsteins to put together a mailing list of over 7000 boxing fans who are online and volunteered to join a boxing forum?
Each successive boxing show at Madison Square Garden this year has elicited a louder chorus of protest from established journalists who have either been given auxiliary media credentials, often meaning they are relegated to sitting in unsold nosebleed seats, or just denied media credentials altogether. At the same time, the media section is filled with fans, guests of the promoters, people drinking and even making out, children up past their bedtimes, and the like.
Already I am hearing complaints about the credentialing process for Saturday’s Klitschko-Ibragimov card – except, of course, from Boxing Writers Association of America. Perhaps when they learn what computers, the Internet, blogs, and e-mail are, and how to use them, we shall hear something.
Now yet another marketing disaster has been reported, this time involving amateur boxing. Thursday’s Washington Post ran a piece entitled American Heavyweights Search for a Ring Master, by John Scheinman. Despite some factual errors (Klitschko-Ibragimov is not on pay-per-view but regular HBO, and Emanuel Steward’s first name is misspelled, for starters), the article details how the American amateur boxing program has failed to produce world-class heavyweights.
In analyzing why this program is so bad, the article notes the experience in attempting to assist amateur boxing in the U.S. of Michael King, the former president of the television syndication giant King World Productions. King raised $60 million for this program.
The article states, “In 2003, he [King] signed a 21-year contract with USA Boxing, the national governing body of amateur boxing in the country, and gave the organization more than a million dollars a year. In December 2006, he canceled the contract.”
It goes on, “‘I gave these people $4 million and I never got one thing except yelled at,’ King said.”
Robert Voy, the president of USA Boxing from 2000 to 2004, was quoted as saying, “He had no desire to run USA Boxing, but some board members were suspicious they would lose control of the organization.” Voy also said, “They gave him a very difficult time trying to start a marketing program, and there's probably not a better marketing person in the country. It was very short-sighted on the part of the organization.”
So it’s simply not a lack of money hampering amateur boxing. They pissed away $60 million and ruined a gift contract from a wealthy and influential supporter of boxing.
The question then is, for both professional and amateur boxing: Are the people running it crooks or cretins? Do they fear wider coverage by the media and marketing of the sport because of their corrupt practices so much that they will damn near destroy their own enterprises first? Or are they just that blockheaded, stupid, backwards, closed-minded, technophobic, incapable of learning, and incompetent that they have no idea what they are doing? Or, worse still, is it a little of both?