A League of His Own: How Ross Minter Made the Switch from Fighter to Promoter

Rob LancasterFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2015

Credit: Samantha Wordie photography

When asked why he made the transition from fighter to promoter, Ross Minter's reply was as straight to the point as a stiff jab: "I’ve seen both sides, and I thought I could do it better!"

Once upon a time, Minter just had to think about who was in the opposite corner of the ring to him. He had 22 bouts before hanging up his gloves in 2008.

Now, though, he has to concern himself with everything from ticket sales to table bookings, from talent spotting to television coverage.

For a man who admits he is guilty of thinking too much, Minter—the son of Alan Minter, who won world titles as a middleweight—has plenty on his plate.

He is battling for attention in a crowded field. British boxing is prospering right now; stars are being born, helped by heavy media exposure. But that doesn’t mean promoting is an easy way to make money. There are less stressful ways to earning a living.

The key for Minter may be that he has found a niche in the market.

Together with business partner Alan Foley, he has set up the Queensbury Boxing League. Launched in 2010, the structure of the league is made clear on their official website, queensburyboxing.co.uk:

Divided into nine separate weight categories and five skill levels, boxers battle it out over three, four and five two minute rounds against opponents of equal skill and ability in their respective weight classes and move up and down the rankings depending on their results. The most successful competitors will earn the right to challenge for one of the five separate titles in each weight division starting with the novice title and moving all the way up to the coveted Queensbury British title for the most skillful.

The idea is a simple one—put on a show for the paying customers to watch. That means short bouts—and plenty of them—between boxers of a similar ability.

Boxing fans moan about too many bouts being a foregone conclusion before a punch has been thrown; Queensbury Boxing League’s approach is refreshing.

"It’s all about putting on good fights, and the boxers are looked after. They are treated like world champions," Minter explained.

"When they come into the Queensbury Boxing League, some of them have only been amateurs, some will want to come in and make a step up in levels.

"There are then those that have been involved in white-collar stuff as well as pros who have decided that being a pro wasn’t quite for them.

Minter (right) working on television.
Minter (right) working on television.Credit: Samantha Wordie photography

"People think that being called a pro is a fantastic thing. They don’t understand that you need to sell a certain number of tickets before you get a penny.

"We screen all fighters and then, if accepted, rank them—novice, regional, national or British level. They are the four tiers, and you are placed into one of them. Therefore, everyone knows where they stand.

"I think it is taking off and becoming well respected because our methods mean they are all 50-50 fights."

The Queensbury Boxing League is a refreshing approach to a sport that cannot really diversify in too many ways. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Foley and Minter are just getting it to turn faster, plus without ever knowing quite what direction it will end up going in.

A deal has been signed for shows to be broadcast on Eurosport, meaning Minter is busier than ever. Now commentating has been added to his long, long list of duties.

Still, he would welcome the opportunity to manage a pro but insists he would never do so at the expense of what he has helped to build up alongside Foley, a businessman whom Minter used to train.

"When it’s all done and finished, when the show is over, you get the pats on the back; and that’s great, but people don’t really appreciate how much work has gone into it," he added.

"As a matchmaker, I look at the pros and cons of a fighter. I think I can match boxers up well because of that.

"Alan [Foley] does a lot of the PR side of things, because it doesn’t suit me to be sat inside all day on a laptop or permanently stuck on the phone. I have had to adjust to that. 

"I’m a very active person, but you have got to change a bit."

It was Minter's hyperactive nature in his youth that led to him taking up boxing, "I was a keen footballer, but that wasn’t enough for me."

However, while he followed in his father's footsteps by donning the gloves, dad Alan—who held the WBA and WBC titles until he ran into Marvin Hagler—wasn't the driving force behind the career choice.

Minter (left) celebrates a victory during his professional career.
Minter (left) celebrates a victory during his professional career.John Gichigi/Getty Images

As his parents separated when he was just three, Minter caught the boxing bug through his grandfather, "I wasn’t destined to fight. My mum did not want me to do it at all. But boxing was in my blood.

"At that time, I wasn’t that close with my dad. He didn’t come and see me fight until I was probably 17, and I’d started when I was 13.

"My grandfather had a lot to do with my upbringing. That was my first contact with boxing. He had it all planned out. He knew what he wanted to do with me, and at that age, I just rolled with it."

Minter rolled with it right into the paid ranks in 2001.

He was active at the start of his career, but injuries hampered him. Although he won the English welterweight title, there were long periods of inactivity, as he recovered from setback after setback.

He finished with three straight defeats, retiring with a 17-4-1 record. "It was a decision I made that I could not continue [fighting].

"When I did start getting a run of fights, things would come together. Then, bang, I’d have a fractured rib or a cut eye that wouldn’t heal.

"I had such an urgency to be the best I could be that I overdid things. We also discovered I didn’t absorb protein very well, so when I did have an injury, I did not always recover quickly."

The turning point came when he was about to become a father: "Then you start wondering about the next injury, because it wasn’t all about me any more.

"I was slightly lucky that, because of the injuries, I always had something else. I was training people, then now and again doing a bit of plumbing work.

"Even when I was hurt, I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing."

Minter still lives the life of a fighter—a drop of alcohol has never passed his lips, while he eats well and continues to exercise.

He needs to be in good shape, too. The Queensbury Boxing League has absorbed him, "Throughout my career I trained too hard and overthought things, and sometimes I do that now as a promoter."

Crucially for the fighters involved, Minter does have their interests at heart. He has walked a mile in their boxing boots and has a duty of care to do what is best by them.

His next show takes place on October 24, at the Copthorne Effingham Park Hotel in West Sussex, England. There is little respite after that, though, as there is another to plan for at the end of November.

At least Minter will be busy. The son of a world champion seems determined to make his own mark on the sport. 

 

Rob Lancaster is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes used in this article were obtained firsthand.