Bob Arum the 2016 Boxing Personality – If our awards menu included a Lifetime Achievement Award, Bob Arum would have won that one too. The year 2016 marked Arum’s 50th year in the boxing business and the Lomachenko-Walters fight marked his 2000th boxing promotion. According to data compiled by matchmaker Bruce Trampler, Arum has promoted or co-promoted shows in 215 U.S. cities spread across 42 states, not to mention many shows at venues outside the United States.
In 2016, five fighters that Top Rank nurtured won world titles: super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez, junior lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, featherweight Oscar Valdez, super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno, and super flyweight Zou Shiming. In addition, Manny Pacquiao added the lineal welterweight title to his extensive collection of tiaras and Terence Crawford added the WBC junior welterweight belt to his WBO 140-pound diadem.
Crawford and Lomachenko were serious candidates for the “Fighter of the Year” award.
Arum takes great satisfaction in growing professional boxing in places that were arid. The sport is taking hold in China and Arum has played an instrumental role in this development. Boxing in Omaha and Fresno were moribund until Arum found the keys to their re-awakenings in the forms of Crawford (Omaha) and Jose Carlos Ramirez (Fresno). The turnstiles hum when these hometown heroes step into the ring.
Ramirez, who competed in the 2012 London games, is one of many former Olympians that signed with Top Rank over the years. The list includes recent signees Robson Conceicao and Michael Conlan.
A three-time Olympian from Brazil, Conceicao won the gold medal at lightweight in the recently concluded Rio Summer Games. Conlan, a two-time Olympian from Belfast, was eliminated in the bantamweight quarterfinals in Rio. The rank decision that favored his Russian opponent is ranked among the greatest heists in the sullied history of Olympic boxing. Arum has big plans for the charismatic Conlan.
Arum’s company went on a buying spree in the last quarter of 2016. While Conceicao and Conlan are in their mid-twenties, most of the newcomers are young pups. The youngest of them all is Gabriel Flores, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Stockton, California, who can’t fight legally in the U.S. until he turns 17 in May. Arum thinks that Flores can become as big in Stockton as Jose Carlos Ramirez is in Fresno.
But Arum, who celebrated his 85th birthday on Dec. 8 during a business trip to New Zealand, didn’t earn this award just because of all the milestones he reached in 2016. Unlike some other boxing promoters, most notably Al Haymon, the man has a personality. In truth, he isn’t as much fun since Don King semi-retired – the two were the Hatfields and McCoys of the boxing world – but he still speaks his mind and when he’s ticked off at someone, which happens quite often, he’s a delightful font of razor-edged quotes.
A great storyteller (and he has a wealth of great stories to tell), Bob Arum can be charming at times, abrasive at other times, alternately pleasant and crotchety, but no one can ever say that he was boring. We salute Top Rank’s indefatigable “Bobfather,” our 2016 Personality of the Year.
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Bob Arum the 2016 Boxing Personality – Check out our sister site The Boxing Channel’s tribute to Bob Arum.