|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY September 03, 2011||
BAM BOXING BEGINS
At the end of this month, Philadelphia will see the rise of its latest player in the local boxing scene. It's not the next great world champion or US Olympian. Rather it is an unlikely new figure with big plans for the sport she loves.
Brittany Rogers is a 22 year old Temple University senior wrapping up her degree in Sports and Recreation Management. But even before she graduates from college she has decided to take the plunge and promote her first boxing show.
That show is scheduled for September 30th at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia. Rogers will rely on a past internship at the Blue Horizon and her current association with Peltz Boxing to provide the lessons needed to pull off the twists and turns of staging a pro ring show, but it is her love of the game and life-long passion for the sport that fuels her ambition and vision.
Rogers grew up in the Frankford section of Phila-delphia. Her father, Mike Rogers, was a successful amateur boxer trained by John Mulvenna, as well as Mickey Grandenetti, and Jack Costello. Rogers never turned pro, opting instead to work, raise a family, and buy a house.
"I thought about being a pro, but what I really wanted in life was to buy a house. My father told me that there were better ways than boxing to do that. So I left boxing behind", said Mike Rogers.
Years later, knowing what a positive influence boxing had been for himself, Mike tried to introduce his two sons to the sport. But the boys never took to boxing. To the father's surprise however, his daughter Brittany did.
By age 17, after twisting her father's arm to bring her, Brittany was training at the Front Street Gym under the tutelage of Sonny McCord, whom Rogers credits as one of the most impactful people she's met.
"Sonny is in the top three when it comes to the most influential people in my life", Rogers said.
While working with McCord and with a mountain of support and encouragement from gym-owner Frank Kuback, Rogers began to develop dreams of becoming a fighter. But when her father learned of her desire to box competitively, he would not have it. The self-proclaimed "daddy's girl" followed her father's wishes, but vowed to "find another way" to get involved with the sport she had fallen hard for.
She eventually found her way to the Blue Horizon where she met legendary match-maker Don Elbaum and interned with Blue-owner Vernoca Michael.
"There I learned the logistics of putting together a boxing show. It was very hands-on experience", Rogers remembered.
That experience lasted about nine months, until the venue suddenly closed in June of 2010.
While Rogers was plotting her next move, Sonny McCord
suggested she try to work with the one man in Philly who
could teach her how the game really worked.
That opportunity came last October at the Briscoe Awards. Family friend and former boxer, Anthony Boyle introduced Rogers to Peltz.
"Russell and I began talking and he eventually asked me if I knew who "BAM" was on the Philly Keith Boxing Forum. I said 'Yes, that's me!" I think he was really surprised that BAM was a girl. He called his son right then and there to tell him that he had finally met BAM."
BAM, Brittany Anne Michele Rogers, had figured out her next step. Less than one year later she was an intern with Peltz Boxing and becoming an integral part of the operation by guiding the company into the world of social media.
"She brought us into the 21st century with Facebook, Twitter, and all kinds of social networking", said Russell Peltz. "She also has shown us how to dress up our press releases and announcements with photos and logos."
Rogers made these contributions while soaking up new aspects of boxing from her Hall of Famer boss.
"I learned the process of promoting at the Blue, but was taught the whole matchmaking side of boxing by Russell", Rogers said. "He explained how you can work with different styles to make all kinds of matches."
After a couple of months at Peltz Boxing, Russell casually asked BAM when she planned to do her first show.
"It was around the time we were doing the Ronald Cruz fight in Bethlehem (July 1). Russell asked me who I would put on my first show. He said 'You have to start thinking about that.'"
The rest was history. Rogers suddenly got serious about actually doing a show, and in doing so may have created a little history herself.
When her first show goes down on September 30, Brittany will be 22 years and 307 days old, making her the youngest female fight promoter in US history. Only British promoter Olivia Goodwin started sooner, apparently setting the world record as the youngest female boxing promoter at 20 years and 48 days old.
Rogers said, "My father was the one who wondered if it was some kind of record. At first it didn't phase me, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought 'That's pretty cool.' Just to be the youngest female promoter in Philly - where the history is so rich - is a big deal. But to be the youngest in the nation? That's awesome."
So on September 30, BAM will go into the record books, but it's not the only historical note for that date.
By apparent coincidence, Rogers will make her promotional debut on the very same date that Russell Peltz launched his Hall of Fame career. Forty-two years earlier in 1969, another 22 year old Temple grad with a life-long love of boxing tried his hand at the art and business of boxing promotion. All these years later, Russell Peltz is still at it, not only making matches and guiding young fighters toward the top, but also helping this young budding promoter get her start.
"Doing the fight on September 30 was a complete coincidence", Rogers said. "In fact it was Maureen (Sacks, Vice President of Peltz Boxing) who pointed it out."
Rogers was surprised by the twist of fate, but loved it.
"I think it's awesome. It's a sign", Rogers said.
"There must be something in the water at Temple", said Peltz.
Peltz has served as an advisor to Rogers on her first promotion, and she hopes the association can continue.
"I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity and experience he's given me. Russell is behind me 110%. Hopefully we can keep a good working relationship that will be good for both of us." said Rogers. "If we can continue to work together that's great."
For her first main event, Rogers chose Philadelphian Ray Robinson as her headliner. Their connection dated back to her training days at the Front Street Gym, so the lanky southpaw, inactive for the last 14 months, got the call.
"At first it seemed risky to build the show around someone who has been off for more than a year. But having watched him back when I was at the gym, I knew he was a hard worker and was always in shape - even when he didn't have a fight scheduled."
So the talented prospect will return to the ring after a pair of nationally televised defeats, the only smudges on his 11-2 (4 KO) record.
"I feel he should be fighting in front of his home fans and building a support base here. He's only fought in Philly once before."
Robinson was last seen locally on April 18, 2008 at the same National Guard Armory. This time out, he'll face tough Manuel Guzman (7-12-2 (3 KO) of Bethlehem, PA.
"I wanted an opponent for Ray that the fans would know", Rogers said about Guzman.
Manuel Guzman has fought in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and other nearby sites, against the likes of Ronald Cruz, Ardrick Butler, Jamaal Davis, Latif Mundy and Aaron Torres.
Rogers stacked the rest of her card with hot young prospects like Julian Williams (7-0-1 / 4 KO), and Troy (Chase) Corbin (5-0 / 4 KO). Light-heavyweight Charles Hayward (7-2 / 3 KO), Chris Plebani (1-2), and three fighters making their pro debut - Korey Pritchett, Lamont McLaughlin and Todd Unthankmay - round out the card.
Rogers, a long-time softball coach and dance instructor, jumps at the chance to work with young fighters, especially those just starting out.
"Coaching was the biggest thing in my life before all of this. Giving it up (to pursue boxing promotion) was the hardest decision of my life. I miss it. But I think my coaching skills will help me as a promoter to develop young fighters."
BAM is already thinking beyond September 30th.
"I'd like to do three shows before the end of the year - either alone or as a co-promoter. And next year, I'd like to do at least six shows - minimum."
An aggressive schedule like this can only benefit Philadelphia fight fans. Eight full months into 2011, Philly has hosted only five professional shows. An infusion of energy into the local scene is exactly what the fight game needs.
"Next year I am also interested in doing some Pro-Am shows", Rogers said. "there is so much amateur talent in the City."
Rogers would like to throw a spotlight on that talent as a way of building the fighters' fan base early. Her Pro-Am shows would combine both professional and amateur bouts on the same card.
For BAM Rogers, the future is bright, and perhaps ripe for the taking.
"In my head, by no means is boxing dead", she said. "I want to make boxing big on the East Coast again."
Russell Peltz commented, "When you love something the way she loves boxing, it helps you overcome the obstacles that arise because boxing is always on your mind. The more it stays there, the more it keeps you thinking of ways to improve your business. That's the biggest thing she has going for herself. Years and years ago someone said the same things about me, and I understood exactly what that person was saying."
On September 30th BAM Boxing Promotions makes its debut, and Brittany Rogers takes the next step into her future. Let's hope it's also a big step for Philly boxing.
Tickets for "BAM Boxing Promotions Presents The Beginning" are on sale now. To reserve your seats call 215-280-6709.