In a recent interview with ‘Fanhouse’, 80-year old Bob Arum, a renowned boxing promoter, boldly proclaimed that “UFC and mixed-martial arts fans are a bunch of skin-head white guys” – “rolling around like homosexuals.”
What I found particularly interesting was that Mr. Arum, a Harvard Law graduate (and presumably not a stupid man), made these comments no doubt fully aware that he would be offending a very large demographic of fight lovers.
The question is, why would he do such a thing?
Just this past week, I was involved in a discussion with my class about the business philosophy that you ‘never bad-mouth the competition’. It has always been my feeling that by doing so, you make yourself look worse than your competitors. You raise suspicion in any customer who would consider doing business with you. You appear unprofessional and untrustworthy.
I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Arum would be completely unaware of this philosophy. So again, I have to ask the question. Why would Mr. Bob Arum purposely go out of his way to offend and draw ‘negative’ attention to himself and the sport of boxing (at least in the eyes of MMA fans)?
Here are a few speculations that I deem to be his possible motivation:
1. P.T. Barnum (entrepreneur) has been given credit for saying “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.” This is an old belief in business that no publicity is bad publicity.
The downside (there are many) is that with modern information technology, reputation becomes your greatest strength. Bob Arum already lacks credibility; in the past, he has been linked directly to bribery and racism.
Reputation is the cornerstone of power.
2. What are we talking about right now? From a marketing standpoint, Bob Arum has hit a homerun. He has created debate and controversy; both key elements in spreading information in today’s society. Be honest – how many of you even knew that there was a boxing pay-per-view on the same night as the next UFC pay-per-view? And what better way to reach ‘fighters’ and fight fans than to offend them?
3. Was he wrong? As much as I love watching the UFC, I have to admit that a lot of the fans do drive me bonkers. Not to generalize too much, but back in the 1980’s, my skateboard buddies and I had a term for people who were all about the image and nothing to do with the talent; we called them ‘Posers’ and trust me when I tell you that the UFC fan-base is chalk full of them.
Since the typical UFC fight fan thinks that boxing is “boring” anyway, what better revenge could there be for Bob Arum than to show total disdain towards the UFC fans? In the eyes of boxing, MMA fans might as well be water polo fans – it’s a completely different sport, and they obviously believe that it’s a completely different demographic.
4. Law #39 from the ‘48 Laws of Power’ written by Robert Greene states: “Stir up waters to catch fish. Put your enemies off-balance. Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings.”
Perhaps Bob Arum is hoping that fight fans will start watching the UFC pay-per-view and suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of homosexuality and switch immediately over to the boxing pay-per-view?
Knowing how insecure most ‘macho’ fight fans are, they may agree that boxing is the more manly sport. Bob Arum may be trying to prey upon the insecurities of others in order to persuade fans back over to boxing.
The more attention you give to an enemy, the stronger you make him. Let’s face it, Bob Arum is old. This controversy could be his final legacy.
Whatever the motivation of Bob Arum may be, one thing is for certain; things are definitely not always as they appear.
To view the interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE_tsPatoBU
To read more articles written by James Ryan visit: www.mrjamesryan.com