I am Shalom knows what you’re thinking. “Where did this man come from? Where did he come from?”
It’s the same question that comes up when fans see his 29-year-old company. boxerEmerging as one of the sport’s premier promotions since its debut as the Ultimate Boxxer in 2018.
At the time Shalom was just 23 years old and was the youngest licensed organizer in England. So where did this guy come from?
Where did he come from?
Mancunian recalls that Amir Khan’s outings at the 2004 Athens Olympics formed his earliest memories of boxing, before Shalom’s intrigue in the sport deepened in the “ITV nights” that followed Khan. These were matches that drew “seven or eight million viewers,” and while 11-year-old boxing fan Shalom probably couldn’t tell those numbers at the time, 28-year-old Shalom says he does now. Floyd Mayweather against Ricky Hatton in 2007 and Nikolai Valuev against David Haye in 2009 were also instrumental for Shalom, with the second fight leaving him “obsessed” with the sport.
The entrepreneurial spirit that would bring Boxxer to life first shone at the university where Shalom studied law, but was “constantly looking for a way not to practice law.” He would host club nights and concerts and sell fast food, and this business trend later merged with boxing, in part because of Shalom’s friendships in Manchester. There, several of his friends boxed – some professionally.
Shalom tells Independent He said his desire to step into the commercial side of the sport stemmed from “really seeing how much the warriors put into it, but how little for them in terms of reward.” It has become obvious to me that sport is very difficult, very cruel. It’s not like tennis, where the best plays the best and getting to the top is based on merit, there seems to be no infrastructure unless you’re in the top 1 percent.
“Seeing the way events were organized, the sponsors and broadcasters didn’t really want to get involved… I never really understood that because for me it was the most admirable profession or sport to enter. But it had such a ‘dirty’ tag and things sounded daunting. I wanted to get into this business to better reflect the fighters.”
Shalom borrowed £10,000 to get a boxing promoter license, but the money will only get you so far in a job that also deals with respect. Shalom, who had to win the relevant authorities and personalities at the age of 23, owes his success to his “work ethic” and “being real, consistent and determined”.
“In retrospect it was naive, because if I knew what I know now maybe it would have been more difficult to go on that journey. But I was incredibly passionate and I think most of the boxing community was happy at that point that young people were getting into the sport; There aren’t many people who really want to work in boxing. It’s been the same supporters for 40, 50 years – the same families. If you are brave enough and come with good intentions and a different perspective on things… Fortunately, the board noticed this and gave me the license – maybe early, I don’t know.”
However, wanting to effect change is one thing and actually doing it is another.
“I think you do that by organizing events that everyone—men, women, everybody—would enjoy coming to,” Shalom says. “Making sure it’s accessible, pricing is where people can afford it, the way it’s presented, and the way you run your operation is transparent, which is why brands and broadcasters want to get into the sport. Also, it is important to try to break down barriers such as these long-standing undercards, belt system, judgment, regulation. If we can achieve this gradually, then we will create a much better environment.”
Boxxer was in a position to host tournaments as he was in no condition to sign fighters, their shows were almost head-to-head thanks to ticket sales and sponsor financing. The promotion’s first TV deal was with Channel 5’s 5Spike, before Boxxer greatly improved its funding with Sky Sports in June 2021, its ability to sign fighters and host events.
Boxxer’s roster now includes female stars Claressa Shields, Savannah Marshall and Natasha Jonas, as well as Liam Smith, Lawrence Okolie and 2020 Olympians Frazer Clarke and Ben Whittaker. The promotion focuses on “various signatures” and Shalom plays a key role due to the advantage of being of similar age to the fighters.
In 2022, a leaked clip surfaced on Twitter, showing Shalom telling an interviewer – before the interview officially began – not to ask questions about Matchroom. The 28-year-old received an equal amount of criticism and support after the clip was released, but now she says: “I don’t think I need to belittle the other supporters. In what other sport would you like business owners to constantly attack each other?
“I think it’s funny and I actually enjoy it, but we have such a job ahead of us. Sometimes it’s just a soap opera. Being a great organizer… Look, it gets a lot of attention, but I don’t think it’s a prerequisite for me to be famous or famous; I think we should do a good job.”
This is a purpose to which Shalom is bound by a singular focus.
“There was a great sacrifice,” he emphasizes. “I sacrificed all of my twenties – not going out, not doing the things a normal person my age would do. If you want to do great things and believe in what you do, you will sacrifice everything; I’ve sacrificed absolutely everything, but I don’t see it that way because I’m doing what I love. This is a dream come true.
“I’m young, the other organizers are much older than me, I have more energy than ever. Working with boxers is great because it doesn’t matter how stressful it is when working with boxers or how hard it is for you; it’s always harder for them, so it’s a lot more than that. “You get energy. We have a great responsibility towards sports. I don’t think anywhere near the end; we are at the very beginning of our journey.”