Temple University senior Brittany Rogers will make history Friday night at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia as she becomes the youngest female boxing promoter in the country.
On a recent warm afternoon, Rogers stopped by Joe Hand Boxing Gym near Third and Spring Garden streets to get a look at one of the fighters.
The back door was propped open, and big fans pushed steamy air around a boxing ring in the back. The room was alive with the whirling of jump ropes and the patter of speed bags.
Boxer Ray Robinson, wearing yellow pants and a black shirt, climbed into the ring.
“He’s shadowboxing” said Rogers. “Just making sure he’s ready for the night.”
Rogers, who’s only 22 years old, kept her eyes glued to the 5-foot-10 welterweight in the ring.
“He’ll work the jab as much as possible,” she said. “It’s his favorite.”
Rogers says she once trained in the sport she now promotes.
“I just trained really to stay in shape,” she said. “I got interested in it because my father was an amateur fighter out of Philly, and it was just always in my bloodline. The fights were always on at my house.
“I actually started working out at Front Street Gym which is where I met Ray,” she said. “I knew he was somebody who would be in the gym training and be ready.”
‘The itch to fight’
Despite starting inside the ring, Rogers’ dad steered her away from being the one throwing punches.
“I did get the itch to fight. So I sat down with my dad, told him I was interested in it, and he basically asked me not to do it. He told me that he didn’t think it was the right spot for a girl, and I respect my father,” she said.
Rogers, who majors in sports and recreational management, said school has helped her a lot. Her big assignment this semester is to create a marketing plan for her company, Bam Boxing Promotions.
Temple professor Joris Drayer said he wishes more students had the motivation, or the courage, to act on their dreams as Rogers is doing.
She aid she has also learned a lot from an internship with Peltz Boxing Promotions and volunteer work at the famed Blue Horizon gym in North Philadelphia.
Even while talking, Rogers kept her eyes on the ring where a trainer was dancing around Robinson, tapping him with part of a foam “noodle” pool toy.
“Every time Ray throws a jab or a punch in general he’s hitting the noodle directly, because it’s all about precision,” said Rogers.
Taking a fighting chance
Rogers said she didn’t even think about how few young women she would meet in her chosen field.
“I knew I had the capabilities to do it, so I figured why not take the risk now while I’m 22 rather than waiting till I’m 30 (when) it’d be even more of a risk because I’ll have a lot more to lose,” she said.
Robinson climbed out of the ring and went to work on a speed bag as Rogers stayed next to the ring and watched from a distance. She said when she’s not working a fight, it’s relaxing to watch.
“Some of these fighters are ranked in the top 10 in the world and they’re just walking around the crowd you know and you’re able to go up to them and talk to them,” she said. “You could never do that at an Eagles game or a Flyers game you know, so it’s very welcoming.”
Trainer Moses Mosley walked over and threw an arm around Rogers,
“This child here, she’s like a daughter you know? She’s always been around us telling us, giving us information on the Internet,” said Mosley. “I think she’s going to be the prettiest and the greatest of all time! Of all time! She will be a great promoter because she knows what she’s doing, and that’s no fooling. Take it from me she’s bad as can be, her name is Brittany!”
The many modes of boxing
According to Rogers, boxing is not like any other sport.
“You can sit down and watch a fight and it can end up being an all-out brawl. Or you can sit down and watch a fight and it’s a chess match,” she said, citing Floyd Mayweather as an example.
“Every single one of his fights tends to be a chess match,” she said. “You know you gotta pick and choose your shots and choose the right one and if you land it precisely, it’s gonna benefit you. Other guys, they just go in and go all out and they hope for a knockout. It’s interesting.”
Rogers said Philly’s a tough town for boxing right now–it’s hard to fill the seats. That might make some hesitate to dive into a career as a promoter. But not Brittney Rogers.