Advertisement
Share

RINGLEADER

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It has been 20 years since Dan Goossen’s humble beginning as a boxing promoter in a North Hollywood backyard.

Goossen’s initial job was sweeping leaves from the ring of Ten Goose Gym, a makeshift arena erected beneath a towering oak tree with garden hoses for ring ropes.

It seemed like a longshot: a 30-year-old office supply salesman with no professional boxing experience trading a comfortable living to enter the ring against the likes of Don King and Bob Arum.

“I never had a problem selling things,” Goossen said. “I just wanted to put my ability to sell things and boxing into the same package.”

Advertisement

It has been an uphill fight. Waged from the beginning with no-name pugs at smoky Reseda Country Club, it progressed to include a handful of champions and culminated last month with an agreement with one of the sport’s most famous--as well as infamous-- personalities.

As Goossen prepares to enter his third decade in the fight game as president of Denver-based America Presents, the days of searching for boxers willing to fight under the banner of obscurity are a distant memory.

America Presents will promote Mike Tyson’s comeback bout against Francois Botha, former International Boxing Federation champion, on pay-per-view Jan. 16 at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.

The three-year-old company will make bold strides in the coming year. America Presents, which began with a contract with Fox Sports Net for 20 televised fights per year, will stage between 45 and 50 programs in 1999.

A growing stable of more than 30 fighters includes Tyson, former undisputed heavyweight champion, and several current and former champions, as well as a handful of fighters from the region.

Robert Garcia of Oxnard, undefeated IBF junior-lightweight champion, will fight on the Tyson undercard. The card also is scheduled to include heavyweight Lance Whitaker of Granada Hills, undefeated in 17 fights, against Alex Stewart.

Others include super-welterweight David Reid, the only American to win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and Bernard Hopkins, IBF middleweight champion.

The addition of Tyson, whose agreement with America Presents includes a confidentiality clause regarding terms, ultimately might be short-lived, given the tenuous nature of such matters in boxing. Not to mention Tyson’s propensity to self-destruct. But it has heightened Goossen’s stature.

Advertisement

With or without Tyson, Goossen simply wants to promote fights.

“I don’t take any credence in getting someone [of Tyson’s stature],” Goossen said. “I’m interested in doing the best for all of our fighters, from Robert Garcia to Lance Whitaker.

“We enjoy our relationship with Mike and we’re very, very happy with the terms. The best way to sum up Mike is, he’s the biggest act in show business.”

Now a heavy hitter himself, Goossen and partner Mat Tinley, figure to promote fewer fights on the West Coast. Goossen’s sentiments remain in Southern California, but logistics play a more important role.

Advertisement

Television commitments require 8 p.m. starts on the East Coast for America Presents’ programs, making it difficult to fill an arena in California in time for the first bell.

Goossen, in fact, was caught in traffic and arrived late for his own card at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City last February, his last boxing program in the region.

Goossen is negotiating with Fox to schedule weekend bouts on the West Coast.

“L.A. has always been a good market and when we do a fight, the thought of L.A. is always there,” Goossen said. “L.A. certainly is my home, no matter how many Super Bowls the Broncos win.”

Advertisement

Or fighters America Presents signs.


Advertisement