There are many different roads professional athletes can take when their playing days are done.
In 2002, boxing great Oscar De La Hoya stepped out of the ring and established Golden Boy Promotions. Now, it’s one of the biggest boxing promoters in the world. In a video that was part of Adweek’s annual sports issue, De La Hoya told us his key to a successful life after sports is simple: “Do your homework.”
Adweek: What advice would you give to an athlete who is looking to expand his or her presence beyond the playing field?
De La Hoya: Get involved and do your research, and get to know whatever business you’re going to get involved in. Surround yourself with people who can advise you the correct way, and make the proper decision that’s going to help you grow long term. I love planting seeds, and every so often, whether it’s five or six years, I plant new seeds. A lot of them are not going to grow, but if you plant enough, you’ll have a nice little garden. I think the best advice is don’t get involved in anything you really don’t have any knowledge of. Do your homework.
When you were plotting your post-career life, how important was it to stay close to boxing as opposed to branching out into something completely different?
You can open up your car dealership or a restaurant. I’ve had all those people approach me with all sorts of innovative ideas, and I’ve always stuck to what I know. I didn’t want to start from the top. I wanted to get my feet wet and know the business, so we started promoting nontelevised events. We acquired a small promoter in Los Angeles to learn the business. It took a lot of time, but also it didn’t, because this is the sport that I know.
Where do you hope to take Golden Boy?
Signing the right fighters—what’s most important to us as a company is we not only sign fighters who are great inside the ring but also great ambassadors for the sport outside the ring. If you have good representatives who are exposing the brand in a positive way, then you’re doing something right.
How important is social media in promoting fights?
In today’s world, it’s everything. That’s one of the reasons why we created Golden Boy Entertainment and Media. The younger consumer wants exclusive footage that they cannot see on HBO or TV. They want behind the scenes. You can’t tell the consumer these days what to watch, when to watch or how to watch it.
What makes a fighter an ideal brand spokesman?
With fighters or athletes, there’s a certain type of charisma that you look for. Can he connect with that consumer? Sometimes it’s instinctual—not every fighter has it—but you find that special fighter that you know is connecting with the audience, whether it’s because they love the way he talks outside the ring, his beliefs, or if he’s just a great fighter overall.