by UK Telegraph
FAME & Fortune: For the Zimbabwe-born British European heavyweight champion’s money has not all come from boxing…
How did your childhood experience influence your attitude to money?
I grew up in Zimbabwe and we didn’t have much. My dad worked away for the whole week as an engineer, came back on Friday with his pay and gave the rent money to my mum. He’d put aside money for food and stuff and he’d keep the rest. That’s how Africans lived, but there was enough to go around. They never sat us down to talk to us about the value of money.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I am both. I spend on my house, getting my car fixed; general things, like a new pair of trainers or T-shirts. Every few months I’ll buy something for me. The most expensive pair of trainers I’ve got cost me about £800. They’re Louis Vuitton and made from crocodile skin. I don’t wear them, I’m waiting to sell them on. I do like to buy one-off pieces to sell on.
Can you remember your first paid work of any kind?
In Africa you’re not allowed to bring alcohol into football games so me and my friends used to sneak alcohol in and sell it. We were undercover but we were making money.
Then I came to England and I was working for £15 a week as an apprentice mechanic in Golders Green. It wasn’t enough to cover my bus fare but I wanted something to keep me off the streets. When I was around 16 I worked for Jamie Oliver when he was training troubled kids to be chefs but I drifted away from that.
I went to work for BMW for a bit, then I started buying and selling cars, which anybody can do. You just advertise the car and when someone comes to look at it you wear a suit and sell them a car. I made a little bit of money off that but then I got into something else, and I made some serious money [declines to say what].
How much was your first boxing related pay cheque?
I got paid about £5,000 for my first fight against some fat nobody in Wembley. If you’re an amazing fighter you’ll get between £20,000 and £50,000 for your first fight. I spent all that money on clothes.
Do the pay cheques rise the higher your profile becomes?
The more rounds you get up to the more it rises up but if you don’t have an adviser, money can become your worst enemy.
In what way?
You can spend it so fast and if it’s something that you don’t have, then you start doing silly things for it. My mother was very structured about money and taught me that, but for other athletes out there who don’t have the structure they just spend and spend and spend. And then suddenly you don’t have it no more, it’s difficult.
So how do you structure your financial life?
If I buy £800 trainers then I know I won’t buy anything for the next three months. As long as my rent is paid and my insurance on my car is paid and my car’s got petrol in it that’s fine. Sometimes I give myself pocket money for the weekend or for the whole week. Like £60, perhaps.
Presumably you’re now paid a lot more than £5,000 a fight?
The pay cheques grow very fast. So from £5,000 to £20,000, then £80,000 to £100,000 and then £200,000, then £500,000 then £900,000 then £1.5m. It keeps going up but sometimes there can be a title fight and there will be no money involved. I know guys that are fighting to defend their titles and they’re getting paid about £50,000. But you can make more money in the heavyweight game than you ever make in any other sport.
What’s your current rate?
I’m very far away from that.
Are you in the £10m per fight bracket yet?
No way. After this next fight on the 29th, my next pay cheque will be over £10m but people misunderstand how hard this game is; how hard you have to train. It’s not like you suddenly get in the ring and somebody pays you £10m. Getting in the ring is the easiest part. The hard work is done behind the scenes.
How much have you earned in your boxing career so far?
When you’re getting punched in the face repeatedly do you think about the money?
No, it becomes something you love. The thing about boxing; it’s amazing, it’s beautiful. I love it. I wake up in the mornings, I’ve got pains, my knees are hurting me, my back is hurting, and I just have to come out my bed, get in my bathroom, brush my teeth, wash my face. The moment I come out of there, everything is back to normal.
Does losing a fight shrink your pay cheques?
Big time. If you lose a fight you were paid £800,000 for, the next fight you’ll get £100,000 so that’s a big drop. If your ratings drop everything drops. I just want to make a good living for my daughter and the rest of my family and to enjoy life.
How have you invested your boxing earnings so far?
I own a couple of properties but I’m focused on the boxing right now. Before I used to do car rentals but I was just wasting my money. I don’t bother with anything other than houses now.
Does money make you happy?
Having more money means more problems, but not having money is actually cool. If you are rich, everybody wants to sue you. If you’re poor, no one wants to sue you. No one wants to bother you. If you’re just an average guy who goes to work nine to five, it’s better. Athletes have got a 10-year period when they’re in their prime.
What will you do financially when your train stops?
Many athletes become alcoholics when they retire because they discover drinking when they stop training but I have a massive plan. I’m going to buy a farm and become a farmer. I’m going to farm pigs or some s— like that.
What are the most useful financial lessons you’ve learnt?
My mum always told me this: if you see something you want, if you can buy it five times then you can afford it. If you can’t buy it twice you can’t afford it. That’s why I can buy trainers for £800.
Have you ever bought something in cash for a lot of money – say an £80,000 car?
I’m a big believer in cash but I’d never buy a property with cash. Me and a friend did try to buy a BMW Six Series Convertible once for cash. It was about £60-£80,000. We walked in and we’re like, “We want to buy a Six Series”. They go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve got one in”. We’re like, “Can we take it today?” He was like, “We’ve got to register it,” and we’re like, “No, no, we’ll take it today, we got cash”. He goes, “Oh, let me speak to my manager,” and so we showed him a carrier bag of cash.
Then he goes, “Go and sit down over there help yourself to coffees”. I thought, “they’re being too nice to us, something’s wrong”, then three minutes later we see police cars so we grabbed the money, ran out the back, and started jumping over gardens. It was funny.
Could you not have explained to the police that the cash was legitimate?
Are you crazy? That don’t work when you’ve got £60,000 in cash and want to buy a Six Series. They would have asked, “How did you get this?” “Where are the papers?” It would have been a long process. We couldn’t be a—-.
Do you tip?
I hate tipping. People don’t tip me when they watch me fight; “Oh great knockout, there’s an extra £500.”
Do you gamble?
I play blackjack at Palm Beach casino. I’ll take £100 and if I lose I’ll walk away. If I win I win but the house always win.
Do you manage your own finances?
My mother and my accountant deal with that. I just pass it over to my mother. I don’t get involved.
What about domestic finances?
My wife is in charge of that.
Do you have a pension?
If I die who is going to spend that money? Some guy. No way, I don’t have a pension.
What’s the biggest current drain on your finances?
Lawyers. People suing me.
They’re just crazy; people suing me for nothing.
This article was originally published by The Telegraph