If you’re involved in the business of boxing, or even just a fervent fan of the fight game, and you’re not yet familiar with the name of Adrian Clark, you soon will be. Clark, a native of Dallas, Texas, is a former amateur boxer who has decided to take it upon himself to shake up the sport and change how prizefighters do business in a game that, historically speaking, has rarely done right by the brave men and women who risk their lives every time they step into the squared circle.
Anyone who follows boxing has heard the sad stories of brave warriors who battle for years and entertain millions of fight fans only to end up at the end of their careers with little to show for their pain and sacrifice other than scars and memories. A retired boxer faces both uncertain financial prospects and the fears of a future marred by dementia and other health problems. That said, some retired champions do go on to reap the fruits of their success; Jack Dempsey, for example, was a much sought-after celebrity who owned a successful restaurant in New York City and lived to a ripe old age.
But for every story like Dempsey’s, there’s at least half a dozen of the tragic variety. During his time at the top, Joe Louis donated huge sums to his nation’s war effort but at the same time no one looked out for his own personal finances. When he retired after his record-breaking reign as heavyweight champion, the government served him a huge bill for overdue taxes and he spent the rest of his life struggling to get by. Similarly, not long after his career ended, Sugar Ray Robinson’s bank account was all but empty and his health went into a steep decline, diabetes and Alzheimer’s ravaging the once vibrant Sugarman before his death at the age of just 67.
Over time, boxing can take a terrible toll on fighters who are not vigilant about their own welfare, both physical and financial. The situation is even more pressing for the vast majority of fighters who never reach the top of their profession and don’t earn the big purses reserved for the most popular and prolific champions. Thus, Adrian Clark sees both a need and an opportunity to change boxing for the better and for the benefit of all participants.
A graduate of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a certified sports agent, Clark has degrees in Communications and Business, but he was also an amateur boxer, twice participating in Golden Glove tournaments. In 2012 he started AC Sports Management and has worked with boxers Jerry Belmontes and James de La Rosa before creating the information series and book entitled Protect Yourself At All Times: A Guide for Professional Boxers.
The book, along with an accompanying series of videos, is designed to give fledgling prizefighters the information they need to think strategically about their career and to understand both their rights and obligations. Drawing on his own knowledge, as well as the experiences of renowned former champions such as Pernell Whitaker and James McGirt, Clark provides insight and information that is nothing short of indispensable for any young boxer who wishes to avoid the difficulties and pitfalls which have plagued the careers of too many fighters.
Clark’s work has earned him the plaudits of many, as well as inclusion on the prestigious “Forbes 30 Under 30” entrepreneur list. But as much as he may be a businessman and impresario, Clark is also a teacher and an advocate, someone who believes passionately in the idea that boxing can, and must, do a better job of looking after its own.
“This is just the beginning of what will become a movement to protect professional boxers outside the ring,” says Clark. “It is overdue for someone to lead the charge and educate fighters on the business of boxing.”
“Adrian’s heart is where it’s needed,” says ex-champion and current pro trainer James “Buddy” McGirt. “Everyone says they are looking out for professional boxers, but he is showing (by example) that he really looks out for the fighters.”