There may be no easier person on earth to talk to about boxing than Terri “The Boss” Moss. I caught up with the recently inducted hall of famer, and as usual, all I had to do was say “hello” and we were off to the races.
There may also be no busier person in boxing either. To simply discuss with Terri what she’s been up to recently and what she has cooking is to make the interviewer very thankful for having a recording device. To Terri Moss, movement is life. So move she does.
Not many people would cut short the celebration of their own career as Terri did upon entering the Women’s International Boxing Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale on July 11th of this year, but the prolific trainer/promoter did just that. She had boxers from her Buckhead Gym in Atlanta competing in the Women’s National Golden Gloves over that stretch. Until Terri learns to be in two places at once—something she’s probably working on right now—she will occasionally have to make choices. When it comes to enjoying recognition for her own career achievements or being with her fighters, the decision is easy. For Terri her boxers come first. So Terri left “the red carpet to work the corner of a 42 year old” amateur. Rubbing elbows with Laila Ali and other luminaries would have to wait for another time.
Her fighters left the tournament with no small level of accomplishment too. Three won their weight class, one took runner up, and another took third place. She is one of the most fervent supporters of women’s boxing. While the climb for the sport is ongoing and steep, she can see the potential. When women’s boxing was first introduced, it was seen as a novelty. Maybe to some it still is. But as she points out, there is real depth to the competition compared to those early days. With the support of USA Boxing, there is a true infrastructure for developing amateurs. The inclusion of women’s boxing in the 2012 Olympic Games points to the growing legitimacy and relevance of the sport.
Terri thinks the biggest need in women’s boxing is simply one thing. That of a star. As she reminded me, UFC President Dana White once had no interest in showcasing women in MMA bouts. Then along came Rousey, perhaps not all that arguably the biggest star in MMA and near the top in all combat sports. Like with any endeavor, exposure is key. With boxing now more ubiquitous than ever thanks to Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, there could also be an opportunity on the women’s side too. All that’s needed is the right fighter and the right promoter to offer the chance. Terri suggested keeping your eye on Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor in particular after the 2016 games in Rio. Now is the time to get in too. As Terri points out, “The cost for a women’s title fight is so much less to promote than a man’s.” The risk-reward equation tips in the favor of the latter.
It should be noted that Terri trains male fighters too. In fact, way more men than women. Among them, Joshua Balbuena will be competing in the US Olympic trials later in September, and thanks to dual citizenship could be a part of the Jamaican team if he doesn’t make Team USA. She’s also excited about two brothers (Abel and David Aparicio) who she refers to as her “heartthrobs.” Both are off to fast starts as flyweight amateurs with intentions of turning pro within the next year or two.
I can’t imagine a trainer with a bigger heart than Terri Moss. She came to boxing the hard way, as a 35 year old novice, taking hard knocks and some losses at the outset, but eventually becoming the WIBA World Strawweight champion in 2007 at the tender age of 41. She understands how tough this sport is to commit to and how much work and courage it takes to progress at it. As she put it, “The least likely to succeed would have been me.” For Terri, “That’s what boxing is made of. The everyday guy that wants to take a chance and be somebody when he could have been nobody. That’s the history of boxing.”
Terri’s had significant success as a promoter as well. Her “Corporate Fight Night” charity boxing series in Atlanta which she originated in October of 2010, just passed its 9th iteration in February and she’s aiming at November for the even 10th in support of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. It’s an ingenious idea—allowing people with regular jobs who want to dabble in boxing do just that. The event has been so successful that USA Boxing is going to create a “masters level” tournament for novice enthusiasts next year.
There are now Corporate Fight Night style events all over the United States. Terri told me of a promoter in Charlotte who copied her site “word for word” in attempting to set up a similar event. Terri didn’t mind. She figures if “someone is copying you, you must be doing something right.” The shows Terri sets up have large budgets. Sometimes up to $65,000. The proceeds help support her gym as well as making significant contributions to such organizations as The Wounded Warrior Project and Children’s Health Care of Atlanta.
The success of the event does more than raise funds for her gym and charity, it also provides access for those who love boxing and want to try their hand at it. Anyone can join a soft-ball league or pick up a basketball and go to the park. Boxing isn’t quite as easy. “I do want the everyday person to not only be able to follow (boxing), but to be inside of it.” On the dreaming big side, Terri hopes to get Corporate Fight Night on television someday. Perhaps as a reality show competition series.
Terri also promoted a US vs. China event for female Olympic hopefuls in Atlanta in April that was covered by ESPN, CNN, and Nightline. She refers to it as a “fantastic experience.” The officials at USA Boxing were so taken with her gym that they hope to use her facility for future events. It was the first women’s international tournament in the United States in over 11 years.
Despite her late entry to the sport, her success within it as a competitor and now as a trainer and promoter is remarkable. Her Buckhead Fight Club in Atlanta is a 15,000 square foot facility with an Olympic size ring that has no trouble attracting fighters and even the occasional celebrity (I have it straight from Terri that Ludacris is a really nice guy). She even had a commercial for Haymon’s upcoming PBC on Bounce TV shot at her spot.
Even so, Terri still feels like she is only getting started. She is humble and grateful to boxing for the life it has given her. “This is such an extraordinary life. To do this for a living,” she told me. “I have so much more to do,” she continued. “I’m so not finished. I want to be a landmark in boxing.”
I think we can go ahead and start molding the clay now.