The Muhammad Ali Act: How Much do Professional Boxers Earn?
The Muhammad Ali Act is a piece of legislature that provides boxers with protection against exploitation and match rigging amongst other things. Unlike many other sports, boxing isn’t unionized, so there’s no standard salary to speak of; the fighters have to look out for themselves. So, how much do professional boxers earn? Generally, not much – although there are a few exceptions (i.e., Floyd Mayweather).
The average boxer makes around $35,000 a year, which is better than the minimum wage in some countries, but it’s not all that much in the grand scheme of things. This is especially true when you consider that they have to pay for many things themselves. The amount will, of course, vary between fighters. More popular and higher-skilled fighters get more money.
Despite this, $35,000 doesn’t sound bad, does it? Yet, sadly, fighters don’t get to keep it all. Once the fight ends, there are expenses to be paid. The cuts are:
- Training Fee: 10%
- Management Fees: 10 – 30%
It doesn’t sound like a problem until you consider the uneven split of the fight purse and how these figures drastically affect the fighter’s net income. Let’s look at an example and put these numbers into perspective.
The purse is $35,000, and the split is 60/40.
Fighter A gets 60% of the purse, and fighter B gets the other 40% of the purse.
That means fighter A gets $21,000, and fighter B is gets only $14,000.
Fighter A has $21,000.
If training fees are 10% of the winnings that’s $2,100 – reducing the winnings to $18,900.
Management fees are usually an extra 10-30%, which further reduces that number. Let’s say managerial fees are only 10% of the winnings. That’s a further $1,890, and it reduces the winnings to $17,010 – still a pretty good number, right?
What if fees are 30% of the winnings? That’s $5,670 – reducing the winnings to $13,230. Now, that’s still a good number; $13,000 isn’t anything to sneeze at. However, now you have factor in other costs such as rent, utilities, food, and taxes.
So, Fighter A’s final income is around $13,000, but when factoring in other costs, it’s not a whole lot of money. It’s even worse if the fighter is getting a smaller cut of the fight purse.
Fighter B starts off with $14,000.
Once again, we’ll subtract 10% as the training fees – 10% of $14,000 is $1,400. So, subtracting $1,400 from $14,000, and we get a total of $12,600. After the training fees, there are still managerial fees.
- What’s 10% of $12,600? A quick calculation brings us to $1,260.
- What’s 30% of 12,600? We do another quick calculation, and we get $3,780.
So, what’s Fighter B’s Final income?
Assuming their manager only takes the minimum 10% after the 10% cut for training fees, their final income would be $11,340. On the other hand, if their manager takes a full 30% of their winnings; their income would be $8,820. That’s a major reduction in winnings and, unfortunately, when you consider other costs, that money disappears pretty quickly.
How are Professional Boxers Paid?
There are a few ways for professional boxers to get paid.
- Endorsements and Sponsorships
- Private Ventures
This is a pretty obvious way for boxers to earn money. A boxing purse is an agreed-upon amount that is paid out regardless of whether a fighter wins or loses their match. Promoters put a certain amount of money towards the promotion of an event – this is the fight purse. When the match is over, the money in the fight purse is split between the fighters with the more popular fighter getting a larger cut (usually the split is 60/40).
Endorsements and Sponsorships
Boxing has a large audience, and companies are always looking to promote their products. These companies will pay their chosen athlete to promote, use, and display their product. Such products include energy drinks, gloves, training equipment, or other products related to combat sports. It may also be something completely unrelated to the field of combat sports, such as is the case with Floyd Mayweather and Conor Gregor. Mayweather has a sponsorship with a luxury watch brand (Hublot), and Gregor is sponsored by Burger King.
Sponsorships and endorsements are popular and lucrative means of earning money outside of the ring. The extensive use of social media makes this even easier, especially for fighters with large followings. It takes a matter of seconds to put the word out to millions of people about a product, and companies know this. If you’re an athlete with 10 million followers and even a fraction of those spend $200,000 on a watch, that’s a lot of money!
“Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made!” – Spaceballs (1987)
Merchandising is essentially where a fighter launches their own line or brand of products. Hats, shirts, jewelry, and other fashionable items are popular sellers. Purchasing these items directly supports the fighter in question.
It’s easy to understand how this works: high-profile celebrities have a higher resale value. They can promote a product to large audiences with ease and bring in a sizable paycheck. The reason for this is that people are more likely to buy a product attached to a big name (i.e., Floyd Mayweather).
In addition to sponsorship or a line of merchandise, some boxers may have other money-making ventures outside of boxing. Some fighters may be working a day job waiting tables while others maybe school teachers or boxing trainers.
Top Earning Boxers:
Some of the names of top earning boxers are:
- Floyd Mayweather ($560 million)
- George Foreman (300 million)
- Oscar de la Hoya ($200 million)
- Manny Pacquiao ($190 million)
- Lennox Lewis ($140 million)
- Vitali Klitshcko ($80 million)
- Anthony Joshua ($80 million)
- Marvin Hagler ($45 million)
- Bernard Hopkins ($40 million)
- Gennady Golovkin ($25 million)
The boxing industry is a competitive one, but if you can make it work, it can be a lucrative career. Unfortunately, the pay isn’t always great, and many boxers are, as many articles put it, “barely scraping by.”
With that said, sponsorship deals, merchandising, and starting a business are all viable ways to make money as a professional boxer. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found it informative. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you guys for the next one!