Andrew Mikhail talks launching Golden Gloves UK, Martin Murray’s big return
Martin Murray manager and successful businessman Andrew Mikhail has exclusively told WBN of a new venture involving bringing South African promotional outfit Golden Gloves to the United Kingdom.
Mikhail owns several national and international businesses employing hundreds of people in the UK, mainly in the renewable energy sector with Solarking UK and a very successful prestige and sports car dealership, Marques of Distinction – amongst others.
Since Murray’s eyebrow-raising switch from Britain in March 2014, Mikhail has forged a close relationship with Golden Gloves boss Rodney Berman and the move has proved fruitful for all concerned as the St. Helens has man notched up two straight victories to stand on the brink of a world title shot.
With success already breeding from their new relationship, Mikhail stated that he and Berman are keen to extend their partnership further and help develop young talent, along with signing some of the best champions around to the Golden Gloves brand.
“It’s true to say that I have been working very closely with Rodney Berman,” Mikhail told World Boxing News over the phone on Tuesday.
“Obviously Martin has been our main focus and he has delivered everything he said he would and more, but we believe there is an opportunity there to take things that little bit further.
“Martin is in such a great place mentally with his new promoters and boxing in general right now, especially after that shut out performance he put on this weekend against a very tough rugged ex-European champion in Max Bursak.
“The Martin Murray Barmy Army was out in full force and the Monaco residents and hierarchy absolutely loved them. It was a great atmosphere and a night we will all never forget, with Martin’s fanbase growing all round the country. The support he gets is outstanding and I can’t thank his fans enough as they are a big part of his success – along with his beautiful wife and children.
“You are seeing a new Murray now and a more determined Murray than I myself have ever seen. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him and not to mention the pride of his hometown, along with the fans across the country and now his new fans worldwide.
“To turn your life from drink and stints in prison to such a well respected man in his community, giving back your own time to go and talk to the kids who are exactly where he was all those years ago before boxing is a touching experience. And it is because of this determination and hard work shown by Martin why we are now sitting on several lucrative offers. Once I’ve had time to digest them all I’ll sit down with Rodney and decide our next move.
“Let’s not forget Oliver Harrison’s input and the exceptional trainer he is. Just listening to his tactics when talking to Martin gives me such confidence and Martin just breathes it all in and has what I can only describe as a father and son like relationship with him. The mutual respect and trust is amazing and to top it all off Johnny, Matt, Lee and Ed in the corner give us a perfect team.”
Now that Murray is back in a happy place and edging towards a third world title opportunity, Mikhail is confident enough to take on the mantle of being the driving force domestically for what is quickly becoming a worldwide boxing brand in Golden Gloves.
“It’s amazing how very little was known about Golden Gloves in the UK, but through Martin they have started to make big waves over here and probably about to make even more,” said Mikhail.
“I love the way Berman operates as he’s very old school. A handshake is a deal and his word is his word, plus the purse money is sat in Martins account even before he gets in the ring, which is a breath of fresh air.
“I don’t think people know how big Golden Gloves actually are and how many big fights and fighters they have promoted over the years. The likes of Lenox Lewis, Brian Mitchell, Corrie Sanders and Shane Mosley just to name a few off the top of my head. They go hand-in-hand with the many world champions they have made, which totals 67 overall and over 250 South African champions just for good measure.
“It’s amazing to be sat in his office in South Africa and be surrounded by pictures of him with his late great friend and legend Nelson Mandela, who was also a massive boxing fan having boxed himself earlier in his life.
“Other walls are also covered in pictures of all the greats of the sport that have fought for Golden Gloves. So many champions and legends have been a part of their history, like Brian Mitchell, who was a lightweight world champion and defended his title 12 times – he just pops in for a coffee!
“Berman is a very close friend of a great man in Mister Michael Wittstock, who is the father of the Princess of Monaco and instrumental in bringing boxing back to Monte Carlo. With the full backing of the Prince of Monaco whose father in turn was the late Prince Rainier, another big boxing fan, there is a wealth of backing available.
“Now a very exciting opportunity has come up with Rodney where we think there is an opportunity to open a British-based Golden Gloves office to develop young British talent and also take on world champions.
“There is a chance for those we sign to make big money both over here in Britain and across the world.
“It’s a testament to Rodney the amount of shows they put on all over the world and over the next twelve months they will be promoting in South Africa, America, Monte Carlo and now in the UK, so for fighters over here it’s unbelievable worldwide exposure on offer and no shortage of venues to box in at that.”
Asked whether there is a TV deal on the horizon for the new enterprise, Mikhail believes there are plenty of avenues to explore as he and Berman prepare to hit the ground running in the coming months.
“Golden Gloves are mega connected when it comes to TV as they sell their shows to 30-40 countries around the world,” he emphasized.
“At present, they have a very close working relationship with Super Sport in South Africa who cover all their shows, and an endless amount of connections with the likes of Eurosport and other cable networks. But after seeing what they have on the table, you couldn’t rule out big interest from the terrestrial TV stations in the UK as high-class venues in the likes of Monte Carlo make great shows and it is most definitely interesting times ahead.”
Sky Sports have the current monopoly on British fighters, whilst BoxNation take most of the big International shows put on in the US by Golden Boy, Top Rank and the like, although Mikhail is not aiming to compete with the big boys straight away.
“I think there’s easily more room for another promoter, especially a big one like Golden gloves who aren’t afraid to put their money where their mouth is.
“It won’t be built overnight but the vision is there. Getting younger fighters on smaller dinner shows over here will be my first target and having the chance to give them their moment in the spotlight appeals to me.
“The opportunity for fighters to show their potential, before gaining the reward of travelling to South Africa or Monte Carlo fighting on massive cards getting worldwide recognition early in their career is huge.”
“Obviously inspired by his new surroundings as he rubs shoulders with Berman and top figures from boxing at the amazing setting in Monaco recently, Mikhail now has a focused vision on what he wants to achieve moving forward.
“Whilst I’ve been with Berman he has already made calls to experienced people who will be great additions to the team and we are planning on building the same over here.
“As people know I’ve not served any apprenticeship in boxing and I am definitely not any kind of expert, but I’ve always been a fan and what I do know is how to run a business.
“Working along side the likes of Berman and his team will most definitely do me no harm I assure you of that, but I’m really enjoying it and I am ready to learn all I can from them about the business.
“If you look at the top promoters in the sport over here, Frank Warren has always been about producing champions time and time again and still has an array of great boxers in all weights.
“Berman also told me he knew Barry Hearn very well and has a great respect for Barry as they are very similar people. Lets face the fact, what Barry’s son Eddie and Sky have done in a relatively short time is actually brilliant for boxing.
“These big shows of the likes of Froch/Groves are only raising the profile of boxing and I can really feel the good old terrestrial TV days of ITV with Eubank, Collins, Benn and Hamed and now Channel 5 with millions of viewers – coming back to this great sport on the back of these shows and maybe, just maybe, Golden Gloves could be the ones to put it there, who knows?”
Finishing off the call, the subject turned back to Murray, whose victory over Bursak has put him on the brink of a WBC title shot after the talented middleweight claimed the silver version of the coveted strap at the weekend.
“Martin will definitely be fighting in Monte Carlo on Saturday 25th of October that’s for sure and in a much bigger venue,” revealed Mikhail.
“Berman has a very good relationship with Tom Loeffler and the Gennady Golovkin team and there is a possibility Martin may fight on the same card before a future fight that the world demands between them both.
“I have already been contacted left, right and centre over tickets for the next show and I’m expecting Martin to take over 1000 with him.
“Martin is effectively number one now with the WBC as Danny Jacobs dropped out to fight Jarrod Fletcher for the WBA regular title and is also number three with the IBF as the number one and two are vacant.
“I know you and WBN announced that Curtis Stevens and Hassan N’Dam are set to fight an eliminator for that spot today, but we are in a very good place right now anyway.
“We will know very soon what will be the next step for Martin and Golden Gloves UK, but right now it is exciting times ahead for all concerned.”
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