How do boxing halls make their money

Hope for German boxing: At the weekend, heavyweight Tom Schwarz will take on Tyson Fury, the sport's seductive figure, in Las Vegas. Thomas Pütz, President of the Association of German Professional Boxers, says: "Black is already a winner" - because of the media attention. The entire scene in Germany should benefit from this. There are enough events, but few stars. And money is tight.

Thomas Pütz will be sitting at the ring on the night from Saturday to Sunday when Tyson Fury and the German Tom Schwarz meet in Las Vegas. He left on Wednesday. “This is the third time I've been to Vegas this year,” he says. And you think: It must be a nice expense life that you lead as President of the Association of German Professional Boxers (BDB).

Pütz laughs: Nothing with expenses. Like my two vice-presidents, he works on a voluntary basis. The office of the association that organizes professional boxing in Germany has the same address and the same telephone connection as Pütz's security company in Kaltenkirchen in Schleswig-Holstein. In plain language: The BDB runs with it.

It is one of the most famous sports associations. Old, full of tradition. This year the Association of German Professional Boxers turned 70. 303 pugilists are members of the BDB. It doesn't cost much: admission fee 25 euros, annual fee 62 euros. A piece of cake.

Anyone who wants to take on a role in boxing and be licensed for it can also join the BDB. A timekeeper pays 15 euros per year, a judge 38, a referee 61, as well as a trainer or an organizer; Managers and technical managers are included for 102 euros. The prices have remained unchanged since 2007, ring doctors and ring speakers do not have to pay a fee. "We can pay the postage for our letters from what we take in this way," says BDB President Thomas Pütz. "The organization that carries out professional boxing in Germany depends on sponsors and" Friends of Boxing ”. Who keep the shop going with donations, goodwill and their own work.

The BDB has more than enough to do. “I'm actually somewhere every weekend,” says Pütz, but even with this constant presence, he can't cover everything. “In Germany we look after a hundred events a year.” He is almost happy that there is still the much smaller, competing German Boxing Association (GBA) that takes care of events that do not meet the standards of the BDB (such as the medical care).

It is undisputed that there is a market for boxing evenings in festival tents, town halls, multifunctional arenas and football stadiums. With a German license there are currently 405 men and 25 women registered as active. Your job, officially: you are a boxer.

And that sounds cool: boxing professional. Even if you do something completely different later. “The former boxing professional” - it's a seal forever.

However: is boxing a job you can make a living from? Or does it just mean taking off the head protection worn in amateur times and taking off the jersey? And the type of boxing has changed a bit: away from the fist fight for points, more in the direction of landing a knockout blow or be prepared for the fact that a fight can go over twelve rounds if you can achieve something as a professional and titles are in prospect?

"It should be like that, that you can make a living from boxing, but that's not always the case," admits Thomas Pütz. A distinction has to be made between the global situation and that in Germany. Professional boxing is a big number around the world, “more popular than ever”; in recent years, Floyd Mayweather was mostly a boxer at the top of the planet's best-paid athletes. In Germany "a creme de la creme" has brought prosperity: the Klitschko brothers, Henry Maske, Dariusz Michalczewski, Axel Schulz. "But there are also boxers who can crawl around the subsistence level."

The 90s and the beginning of the 21st century were the golden era of professional boxing in Germany. The Universum Promotion of Hamburg's major restaurateur Klaus-Peter Kohl ran a gym with forty boxers who played on the European market. They were given trainers and a monthly salary, which they secured and then offset against the combat exchanges. Stars like the Klitschkos and Felix Sturm broke out of the system, hoping for more when they appear as entrepreneurs on their own behalf - for the masses, however, it was a good thing to belong to a “stable”. But when ZDF and ARD did not extend their contracts and got out of boxing, Universum was no longer viable. Today the former universe rival Sauerland - now in the second generation - is the industry leader, behind it the Magdeburg SES. Alexander Petkovic from Dachau, who used to be a professional at Universum himself, has been a climber in recent years. On the first Saturday of July he ventures into a football stadium for the first time (in Wiesbaden).

But not everyone can find a place in the big boxing stables. And so boxing is more of a part-time job for many professional boxers. Which they got into by chance. Like Guido Fiedler. He was a kickboxer with a regional reputation in Bavaria, worked for a security service that oversaw an event organized by Munich's Roland Suttner (“boxing factory”). Suttner noticed Fiedler's physique and asked him spontaneously if he didn't want to become a professional boxer. A few months later, Fiedler made his debut in January 2006. In twelve years he played 26 fights, of which he won 25. He earns his living with a martial arts school.

Or Armin Dollinger. He was already 33 in his first professional boxing match. The late starter came up to 40th place in the world rankings, but was still behind the counter of his Munich restaurant “Hirschenwirt”.

For women, even a world championship title is not enough to make a living from boxing alone. Christina Hammer, the best known, models. Nikki Adler, her rival, currently on pause, had a half-day post as a postman, Tina Rupprecht from Augsburg, under contract with Petkovic and champion in the minimum weight, is in school service.

Alexander Petkovic estimates that “50 boxers in Germany can make a living from boxing. Maximum. ”He says he pays a fixed salary, plus the fees. But he would only describe three of his fighters as "full professionals" who earn 6,000 to 8,000 euros a month. Serge Michel, a former German Olympic boxer, Nick Hannig from Berlin (world number 50 in lightweight) and heavyweight Petar Milas, Croat, at 23 already number 30 in the world.

How often does a professional get in the ring? That is very different. In his early days, colleagues criticized Jürgen Brähmer for saying that “he often boxed in order to pay off his Mercedes more quickly” - in 2000 and 2001 he had a total of 20 fights. Now he's 40 and still does one or two fights a year (this Saturday in Schwerin, for example, there is another one).

Frequent boxers are the "Journey Men" who are often booked on the fly. They live on the fees they get for being a reliable loser - and should just avoid being knocked out. to leave, otherwise a protective barrier will come into force.

What else a boxer can earn money with: sparring. However, you don't get rich with it: Even the Klitschkos paid their partners only 500 euros per week (including food and lodging).

The Klitschko brothers Vitali and Wladimir took care of the last big television experiences, since then the institutions have become cautious. One hopes for the streaming service DAZN, which, according to Thomas Pütz, the BDB President, “throws insane sums around” - but only for the international top. Alexander Petkovic had changing TV collaborations, but has never been happy with any. He thinks "that we offer a great program - but we don't immediately reach an audience of millions".

It is of course difficult for the audience to keep track of the flood of titles created by the large number of world associations (five large, various small). World champions, interim world champions, intercontinental champions, continental champions. In the coming months alone, 219 fights are scheduled worldwide, in which there is at least one national championship. It's inflationary.

Alexander Petkovic speaks honestly about his business: “Not everyone who calls himself world champion is one. For me, world champion is someone who, if he stops, can have a good few years. "

Very few can do that.