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Home Boxing Interview with Boxing Manager Donna Keegan-Avery
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Interview with Boxing Manager Donna Keegan-Avery

 

donna keegan averyCS: How did you get into boxing management?     
 
Donna Keegan-Avery: I got started in boxing management by way of the film industry. I know, say what? I went on location in New Orleans to visit my then boyfriend, Rick Avery, who is the stunt double for Robert DeNiro. The movie was GRUDGE MATCH. Hanging out in the boxing gym with Rick, and one of my favorite people, Todd Smith aka LL Cool J, I was subjected to the 'arena' for quite some time.       

Donna Keegan-Avery: Then Rick, who I manage in the film industry, was hired as stunt coordinator and 2nd unit director on Hands of Stone, the Roberto Duran story. Off we went to Panama for 4 1/2 months. Well, that was an indoctrination into the WORLD OF BOXING! Rick worked out his fighters everyday, and worked out with them! So, there I was in the mecca where 26 world champions were forged from a hot house gym by the name of Los Rockeros, including the great DURAN himself. After the first week of training, Rick came home and said," Honey, you have got to see this kid. I've never seen anything like him before. After 2 and a half hours we're all dying and he's just getting warmed up!. He's Panamanian. He's playing the part of Davey Moore and he's a real boxer". Now, of course, for my (now) fiancee, Rick to make a statement like that about someone, I had to check him out. After all, Rick is a living legend himself, truly, so this guy had to be very impressive. The next day I went to rehearsal/training and lo and behold, there stood this Adonis by the name of Israel Duffus. Over the next 4 months I figured out a way to talent manage him by agreeing to be his boxing manager! We wrapped in mid December of 2013, and on January 17th I brought Israel to  Los Angeles to live with us. Then I just figured it out … The boxing business that is.  (laughs)      

CS: Were you a fan prior?  If so, of who?     

 Donna Keegan-Avery: I have been a fan of all sports my entire life .. Growing up our heros were Cassius Clay and Joe Frazier. My oldest brother forced me to like boxing. He was an avid boxing fan and loved to box. He is 6 years older than me and as fast as lightning. His favorite way to 'babysit' was to get on his knees with couch throw pills for gloves and knock the snot out of me and my other brother. Yeah, and people wonder why I became a stuntwoman LOL.       
 
CS: Who are your current prospects/contenders?

Donna Keegan-Avery: Currently I have two boxers in my 'family' … I don't like the term stable. I know it works for men but it doesn't portray the level of respect I feel these superior athletes deserve. Just a pet piece of mine, but I digress… Chris Van Heerden "The HEAT" and Israel "Bumaye" Duffus. I am in discussions with other gentlemen right now.     
 
CS: What are typical management duties: matchmaking, calling other managers?      

Donna Keegan-Avery: Believe it or not, because I come from the talent management and entertainment world, my management is a bit different from other boxing mangers …. or so I've been told. See, when I started the boxing management I always knew that I would keep my group small and be a 'hands on' manager. This means I drive them to training, I make sure they have the proper food and special diet and/or supplements, if they're into those. From equipment to electronics, whatever they need to stay current and in-tune. I wardrobe them, and style them so they have an all around marketable appearance. On the business side, yes, I do matchmaking but because I am new, I refer to trusted people who I look to as mentors. Sometimes I call other managers but  usually I go directly through promoters, then refer to Freddie Roach since he trains both of my guys. I discuss everything with Freddie and the men, after all, its their lives in the ring. We form a plan. If there is someone that they want to fight, I ask Freddie about the match up and then I go to who ever reps them. Its great to have a team.
I am vey fortunate with Chris Van Heerden, in that he has a wonderful promoter in Michael King. KSE and I work very well together, we're on the same page with Chris, so we are on our way to a world title! He just won the IBF International Welterweight title in Madison Square Garden on January 9th. May 9th we are in the UK fighting Frankie Gavin for an eliminator/defender bout. When Chris wins this he will be seated #1 … a step away from Kell Brook … YSE! Sorry, again, I digress …

Donna Keegan-Avery: As a manager I look not only for today but for their futures. We have a savings plan for their retirement for investing, etc.. I handle their social media, from fan sites to Twitter, Instagram, etc … I handle it all. Getting and keeping fan following.
 
CS: What are the main points of negotiation?  Money?  Weights?  Other things we may not know about...how does it change as a fighter moves up the ladder?      
 
Donna Keegan-Avery: Hard to say.  One thing is the focus of the negotiation. We are in the building stages for both men and they are at completely different levels. Money, divisions, targeted titles, are all part of the over all long term process. My guys are in it for the long haul, therefore short term money at the sacrifice of longevity is not an option.
Slow and steady wins the race. I've never seen anyone go up a ladder gracefully by forcing the process. I've seen a lot fall, make fools of themselves or get hurt.
As they go up the ladder the stakes get higher, money, Purses and perks, get bigger, but fights come to them … there's a lot less begging (Laughs)  Best of all, (besides the fact that they get more money which makes them smile a whole lot more) the respect level heightens which make the boxing world much more palatable… Oh, did I just really say that out loud?  (laughs)     
 
CS: Compare it to working in.. say, entertainment.      

Donna Keegan-Avery: WOW, is that a loaded question. Where do I begin.?The entertainment business is something I KNOW … for 35 years, from stunts to winning an Emmy for producing and directing. It's full of characters, good, bad, and the ugly but always ENTERTAINING. Face it, its enchanting. The boxing world is… new to me. Just a little over a year and a half in. I thought when I first started that it couldn't be any different than Hollywood.  Boy, was I in for a rude awakening and quite an education. There are so many blurred lines. So many variables when trying to do what one would think to be so simple.  Get a guy a fight, right?  NOT. That's why I have my go-to people, those I trust, who have impeccable reputations and are always there for me. Obviously, Freddie Roach. He has been so accepting of me from the start. In fact, it was because of Freddie that I took on Chris Van Heerden. He asked me to. Another touchstone, one of which I am very proud to say is none other than the first lady of boxing, Jackie Kallen. She has been such a supportive new friend in the boxing world. Another is Steve Bash, who is always the voice of legal reason and kindness. There's the "Godfather" who only those extremely close to me know who that is (laughs) … He'll be revealed in my book… Ahhh, wish I could say but … alas, I cannot. There's all the trainers at the Wild Card Boxing Gym. They have all been so wonderful and have welcomed me along with all my neophyte questions.  They're the 'new family'.
         
Chris Strait
www.convictedartist.com

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