Kalle Sauerland mightn't have the national recognition of Eddie Hearn, or the legendary status of Bob Arum, but no promoter is more beloved by hardcore boxing fans.
There are two reasons for Sauerland's appeal. Firstly, the promoter has an eye for innovation not typically associated with boxing. His pioneering tournaments such as the Super Six and the World Boxing Series have seen the best fighters in their weight classes battle for world titles and undisputed crowns.
Secondly, the man know affectionately as Don Kalle has a reputation as a bit of a party boy, one he says may be a bit dated "I can't quite get up to the things that people think I still get up to at this age" but isn't entirely inaccurate. "I love a night out!"
For our latest Boxing Innovators, Sauerland reflects on his journey through boxing and the state of the industry today. He shares stories about doing shots with Kubrat Pulev in Bulgaria and partying with Lennox Lewis in St Moritz. The man is indeed a don.
Listen to the interview and enjoy some extracts below
On getting into boxing young
My first babysitters were boxers! My dad started as a promoter in Africa -- he left Germany as a very young man and went to Africa. His first show was 1977 in Zambia. There were between forty and fifty thousand people there. That was the start. His most successful boxer was John 'The Beast' Mugabi who was part of our first ever Vegas show in 1986, and had a fantastic fight with Marvellous Marvin Hagler. I grew up with that, my first jobs as a teenager were in gyms.
On evolving as a promoter
I don't look at myself as a UK promoter, I don't look at myself as a German promoter. I look at myself as a boxing promoter. `Look before the days of platforms like DAZN we were promoting everywhere. In 2013, 2014 we did 37 shows in 18, 19 countries with 18, 19 different broadcasters. That was the year when I thought, 'I can't do this for long!'
I remember doing Kessler-Froch and Eddie telling me about Twitter. I thought it was a messaging service!
On his friendship with other promoters
Eddie Hearn is the first one who grasped social media. I remember doing Kessler-Froch and Eddie telling me about Twitter. I thought it was a messaging service! In the UK, Eddie got in there first as a promoter and he was backed very heavily by Sky. He's done a fantastic job. No Context Hearn is very funny! Working with Bob Arum, you always think you're in a Goodfellas movie. I think it's the accent.
On meeting Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf performed before an Axel Schulz fight. I walked into the dressing room to meet him before his performance. He had this stunning lady singing with him, Patti Russo. All I can hear in the background is Meat Loaf gargling – he's gargling Bat Out Of Hell. I'm wearing a suit, my brother is in T shirt and jeans. Meat Loaf walks up to my brother and goes, "you're the cool one."
Kubrat comes to me and says, "tonight, we drink." I'm sitting there with a pint
On his best nights out
I've had great nights out with Mikkel Kessler. He's really teetotal but when he has a drink we get on one. But it's gotta be Kubrat Pulev in Bulgaria. Kubrat is a full-on nutjob. Lovely guy. There a WBA convention, lot of boxing people there. Kubrat comes to me and says, "tonight, we drink." I'm sitting there with a pint. Kubrat comes back from the bar with literally 200 tequila shots. He went through 20, 25 off the bat.
On his public image
I can't quite get up to the things that people think I still get up to at this age. I've got a couple of kids, train six days a week and work every day. I can't fit myself into that schedule that I might have been able to do 15 years ago – work hard, play harder. But yes, I love a night out.
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