By the time you read this column boxing’s richest payday will have been settled.
American Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement to fight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor on Saturday night, in an event where win or lose Mayweather was guaranteed a $200m (sh750b) payday.
The figures are mind boggling but the principles around which that money can be made are the same whether you are millionaire sports man or the man with a rolex stand at the corner.
While you might not make Mayweather’s millions here are a few lessons from his heady journey up to the rarefied heights of sporting success that can set anyone on their way.
1. Master your craft
It helped that Mayweather’s father and uncles had been professional boxers of some repute. It helped too that when Mayweather thought he needed to get a job to help out his mother, his grandmother advised against it and urged him to continue boxing. Since he was a child he has lived in the gym, claiming his father never did ordinary things with him when he was around. They say it takes 10,000 hours of regimented practice to attain world class standards in any field, that is about four hours a day, five days a week for ten years. There can be no doubt that Mayweather, who turned 40 in February, has done his time.
2. Own your labour
In 2006 Mayweather paid $750,000 to buy out his contract and effectively take charge of his own career. Prior to that Mayweather was like other fighters with manager who would pay him a “salary” after every fight, regardless of how much money the fight has brought in. The manager would pocket the net after paying out all other expenses. The net effect of this often times is that the manager pockets a lot more than his fighter. In the last ten years of his career, Mayweather managed his own career, which allowed him to fight less but earn more, much, much, more. In prize money he has made more $500m in his career with most of it made in the last half of his career.
Essentially unless you are a thieving official, you do not get rich from working a job but by owning the job.
3. Play in the biggest market
"You maybe the best in your chosen field, even own your labour but if you are not operating in a big enough market you have little chance of becoming exceedingly wealthy. If you set about to sell Rolex watches in Uganda you may need to sing for your supper more often than you would care. A similar business in the $12trillion GDP US market may have you laughing all the way to the bank. You probably have more success selling our own brand of rolex here than the pricey watches.
The question has to be, what are you selling and is there a huge enough market for it within your reach? People may have laughed at Mukwano going into the bar-soap selling business three decades ago, no one is laughing now.
4. Muster the art of marketing
The purists had their doubts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight, but these doubts were buried under a marketing blitz that turned what would have been a farce into a global must watch event. It is rarely true that if you make the best mouse trap people will automatically make a beaten path to your door. You need to increase awareness about your product and manage the perception of your product’s perception in your market’s mind, not only so you can make the first sell but also so you can keep making those sales. It’s called marketing. Blowing one’s trumpet is frowned upon in certain circles and among some generations but if they don’t know what you are selling how will they fork out the money to buy it...
5. Money is not for eating
And finally Mayweather is known for his lavish lifestyle. Spending millions on clothes, cars and gambling. I would like to believe these were gimmicks, that his business wrote off as marketing expenses during his career. If you want to become seriously wealthy you need to understand that money is not for eating but for making more money. There are only two ways to spend money – you either eat or invest. In the former case you will soon spend all your money and at best be left with flitting but pleasant memories about the good times you had but at worst be saddled with unnecessary expenses needed to sustain your highflying lifestyle long after you are making the big bucks you were used to. The advantage of maintaining the attitude that money is not for eating is that the more that is reinvested in the business the more it will earn you and then you can gorge yourself to your heart’s content.
Beyond the glitz and glamour surrounding Mayweather’s life the story of how he has converted from pugilist to a businessman, taking control of his own labour, is the bigger story for me.