IT’S great to see the new crop of Olympians coming through the pro ranks right now.
It seems like two minutes ago when James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders, Kal Yafai, David Price, Frankie Gavin, Bradley Saunders and Joe Murray, and myself, got back from the 2008 Olympics. We were all thinking about signing professional. I would spend a lot of time with James, Frankie and big Pricey talking about who we were going to go with, what deals we were being offered. It was very exciting.
All of us were about to come into money we never imagined we would have had, even though after I medalled I only got a fraction of what I thought I would have got. I was expecting a 200k signing on bonus and around 30-50k fight, after coming back from the Olympics with a medal… That was the rumors, because before 2008 the only Olympic medallists we’d had for a long time were Audley harrison and Amir Khan who both became millionaires. But in 2008 this was the year when the country was bad in the recession, people were not going to boxing shows as much, TV networks where not paying the promoters what they once were (or at least I got told from all the promoters at the time).
So the offers were not what I was hoping but still I ended up getting 40 grand signing on bonus, with guarantees that all my fights would be televised. Plus 12k a fight and 20k a fight when I fought in my home town of Sunderland which was guaranteed to be at least twice a year, six fights in the first year, then that went up going into year two and three.
Prior to the Olympics every weekend I was working in a catering trailer outside of the Stadium of Light, flipping burgers, then on the nights I was working night club security, I was doing whatever I could to earn money while I trained for the Olympic Games.
So when I turned pro with Frank Maloney who was contracted with Sky Sports, it was amazing. I went from fighting world class champions of different countries for England in venues with hardly anyone there for free, to fighting journeymen in packed out arenas live on TV broadcasting to millions. This was amazing!
I was very smart with my money, I had 10 fights, and every time I had two fights I’d put a deposit down on a house. I own five houses in the UK now that all have got tenants in them, and having retired from boxing in 2012 I now co-own two seven figure gyms in Los Angeles called Box ’N Burn, and a six figure education program called the Box ’N Burn Academy.
I know how these new Olympians turning pro now are feeling, like Josh Kelly, my friend from Sunderland, Josh Buatsi the light-heavyweight bronze medallist who I’ve been speaking to quite a lot before he turned pro and the rest of the boys.
Its exciting times for them boys. In the next four years I’m expecting a few of them to be were DeGale, Billy Joe and Kal Yafai are now as they are very talented boys.
If I could give advice to them it would be, stay grounded and never forget where you come from, pay taxes, invest your money into property and enjoy every minute because you never know when it will be over.
I recorded a podcast after the RIo Olympics on “8 things Olympians should do after the games”
If they use this advice they can be extremely successful.
I know just about all of the GB Olympic boxers listened to it as well as a lot of other Olympians about the world…. have a listen here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-n-life-podcast-life-in-out-of-the-ring/id924241760?mt=2&i=1000374499219