Popular from China to Mexico and everywhere in between, boxing is a truly global sport. With top pay-per-view fights generating hundreds of millions, there are vast amounts of money in the game. However, in a sport that is so fierce and unforgiving, top fighters run a very real risk of incurring a career-ending injury every time they step into the ring.
In this article, we look at the stories of three boxing champions who translated skills gained from their sporting careers to the boardroom. They built their own businesses and launched successful second careers as entrepreneurs.
1. Oscar De La Hoya
Having earned the sobriquet “Golden Boy” by competing in six different weight classes and winning 10 world titles, Oscar De La Hoya is regarded among the most talented boxing champions of all time. He is also one of the sport’s most popular competitors. He generated $700 million in pay-per-view revenue during his career, a record at the time.
Oscar De La Hoya launched a boxing promotional firm in 2002, when he was at the peak of his career as a fighter. After retiring from professional sports, De La Hoya dedicated himself to his multiple businesses and philanthropic pursuits. Through Golden Boy Promotions, he helped Canelo Alverez secure the biggest-ever sports deal, a five-year contract worth an astonishing $363 million. De La Hoya also partnered with live sports streaming platform DAZN to make boxing easier for fans to consume from anywhere, anytime.
Through his charitable foundation, Oscar De La Hoya funded construction of several new wings at White Memorial Hospital in East Los Angeles, the medical facility that treated his mother for breast cancer. The Oscar De La Hoya Foundation also funded construction of the Oscar De La Hoya High School, a charter high school boasting an incredible 99.9 percent commencement rate.
2. Calvin Brock
Business and boxing are dual passions interwoven throughout Calvin Brock’s life story. His dream of becoming a professional boxer began on Christmas morning. At only 8 years of age, he received a gift from his uncle: two pairs of boxing gloves. Calvin Brock admits that he was confused initially. His only sibling was his sister, and in those days, girls did not train to box. However, with the gloves, Brock started sparring with other neighborhood children. Once he was 12, the instructor at the local gym allowed him to begin training.
Starting with the North Charlotte Boxing Club, Brock went on to train with the Police Athletic League. He took second place in the National Junior Olympics at the age of 15, earning him the rank of №2 amateur boxer in the country. Calvin Brock went on to win the Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship in 1998. He subsequently qualified for a place on the 2000 Olympics squad and competed in Sydney, Australia.
Despite dedication to his sport, Calvin Brock recognized that boxing was inextricably linked with the entertainment industry. He would have to curate his brand and promote it strategically. Brock studied at Central Piedmont Community College before attending UNC Charlotte, where he majored in finance.
Calvin Brock recognized that to build a successful boxing career, he would need to learn the finer points of business. Following graduation, while training and competing as a professional boxer, Brock briefly worked for Bank of America. Known as the “Boxing Banker,” Brock monetized himself. Today, he operates in the real estate industry, having launched Jack and Landlords, a guarantee company that works with leasing companies to reduce turnover rates and operating costs for landlords while eliminating the need for a large upfront cash outlay for renters.
3. Joe Fournier
Joe Fournier is a British former light heavyweight champion who took up boxing professionally in 2015, boasting an unbeaten record over 10 fights. Fournier retired from boxing due to injury. However, he returned in 2021 to take on former world heavyweight champion David Haye.
Fournier attributes his success as an entrepreneur to qualities he acquired as a professional athlete, namely balance, discipline, toughness, and resilience. Fournier’s life story pays testament to this philosophy, the entrepreneur having started out as a meagerly paid dishwasher in his teens to eventually go on to become both a professional athlete and successful business leader.
Joe Fournier’s brand, Bonbonniere, owns a comprehensive portfolio of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in popular European vacation destinations like Mykonos. Fournier cites his mission for Bonbonniere as inspiring young people to live healthy, honorable lives. He urges young people to pursue their passions and strive for success in all areas of their lives while avoiding destructive habits like drinking, smoking and drug use. Today, Joe Fournier inspires millions of people around the world.