The vibes of The Greatest blew his mind as he toured the boyhood home of Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky last year.
The property is a mere 1,000 sq. feet, but felt a thousand times larger to 40-year-old Jared Weiss, a real estate developer based in Las Vegas, who bought the bedraggled residence for $70,000, and received a tour from Rahman Ali, the big bro of Muhammad Ali.
"I have a degree in history, and I always loved Ali," the Rockland County, NY native, who moved to Vegas to attend UNLV when he was 19, told me in a phone interview. "I wanted the house as a part of American history. He showed me every nook and cranny, and had so many stories, he was a thesauraus."
It's still to be determined what will be done with the house where the Clay boys grew up; a museum or a Hall of Fame could be in the works, if a plan with the city gets worked out. But the experience drew Weiss deeper into the sweet science, a sport he has long loved, and has led to his entry into the management sphere of fighters.
His move got me pondering other folks who have given in to a craving, and cast their lot into the management, or promotional side of the sport. It has a low barrier to entry, but the odds of succeeding are supermodel slim. Witness the growing pains multi-millionaire rapper/entrerpeneur 50 Cent has experienced in his first year as a a promoter. The crew of boxers he's assembled haven't panned out, yet, as anything resembling an exceptional stable, and he's likely now realizing that sitting on the sidelines and critiquing the efforts of the Arums and Golden Boys is a mite easier than replicating their efforts. Which is why Mrs. Weiss could be a bit more enthralled than she is at her husband's choice to sign up 7-0 welterweight Chase Corbin, and 1-0 heayweight Michael Hunter, who fought for the US in the 2012 London Olympics.
"She doesn't want me in this," Weiss told me, in a direct but easygoing tone. Laura Weiss knows what watchers of those that have tipped their toe in and had their foot torn off by the sharks know, that dabbling can turn into drowning in the ocean of the sweet science.
I felt like Weiss, though, has his head screwed on straight and his eyes wide open about the pitfalls in this endeavor.
"Part of it, number one, is surrounding yourself with the right people," said Weiss, who bought and flipped homes in Nevada, and now has holdings in Vegas, Atlanta and Orlando. "Number two, you stick your toes in, you don't need to jump in. I don't need boxing to make a living, I don't have to do it. I have the ability go in slowly, take my time, not be rushed, that helps a lot."
Jeff Mayweather, the trainer, is one of those "right people."
"Jeff is a great guy, very experienced, has a great pedigree, has great networking capabilities," he said. "He helps open doors."
Vet Rick Dillard helps out on the day to day management stuff, as well.
Weiss smartly is thinking it will take time to shine the rough diamond Hunter, who he believes is going to win a heavyweight crown, perhaps within four years. He likes Hunters' power, and also enjoyed his personality when he assessed the potential deal. "I feel very good about the Hunter signing," he said. Corbin, he says, is "a big welterweight" with charisma and great power.
Does Weiss get concerned that people will say he didn't pick the right horse, as folks have said of 50 Cent, especially in regards to Hunter, who Freddie Roach has critiqued harshly? "It's all about how you train and manage him, knowing how to motivate, it's all about guidance," he said.
"How 50 Cent and I would conduct ourselves in this are two different things," Weiss said. "He's all in with a couple million, he can take his lumps as he goes along. I have a totally different gameplan. Boxing is a different animal, there's definitely a learning curve. About five guys really run everything, and they can lock you out if they don't like you. Back to 50 Cent, I can't speak about his day to day, but I see from the broad view I don't see up 'n coming star power that he's signed right now. It's a challenging business, a tough egg to crack."
Is it tougher than he's expected? "There's a pretty tough element," Weiss said. "Some of the people in the business element, dealing with some different working conditions, some shady stuff, a lot of backstabbing."
And when his wife sees those icepick wounds on his back, does she mutter I told ya so?
"I try not to talk about it too much to her," he said with a grin I could hear, to try and stave off that natural reaction.
"But all in all, I have a combination with my team, the financing is OK, I don't need to rush in, myself, Rick Dilard and Jeff are very well connected to the boxing community. This is more about fun and love for boxing. I'm a very successful businessman, anything I do, I plan on succeeding at."