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Inaugural Black Tie Boxing Gala: A Knockout on the Virginia State University Campus.

The Virginia State University (VSU) Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) hosted its inaugural Black Tie Boxing Gala on Friday, November 3, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in Daniel Gymnasium's transformed "boxing arena." The presence of special guest, Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe, the former two-time undisputed "Heavyweight Champion of the World" (Vadukul, 2015), added to the hype of the occasion and helped to give it a "big-time," Las Vegas-styled aura. While displaying his self-described, "Big like a truck and smooth like a caddy, that's why they call me, Big Daddy Bowe" persona, this charismatic champion was a "knock-out" on the VSU campus.

Although Bowe, who was invited to participate in the Gala by Anthony Chase (who trained boxers for the last Olympic boxing matches), clearly added pizzazz to the occasion, he was not alone. His appearance and the presence of several other luminaries from the boxing world, brought previously unmatched entertainment and incredible educational value to this historic Gala, which was the first recorded boxing event that had ever been hosted by VSU in its 136 year history.

After the doors opened, the crowd strolled across a "red carpet" into the main area for an elegant dinner that was catered by VSU's Thompson Hospitality staff. The fans' gowns, tuxedos, and other fashionable outfits added flair to the occasion. Ringside and other good seats were occupied by: Bowe, and the aforementioned special guests; general boxing aficionados; sponsors; VSU administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni; and many other enthusiasts.

Prior to the event, Clarence McGill, the announcer for the evening, greeted the audience, VSU's majestic Color Guard posted Colors and the National Anthem was performed in Grammy-worthy style by Celeste Wynn (Administrative Assistant for the HPER Department).

After the bell rang, "Ring Card Girls" from VSU's Trojan Fire Dance Team (Fire) began to signal the start of each round, and fans were treated to seven highly competitive and spectacular bouts that showcased talented amateur boxers (the youngest of whom were eight years old) from the state of Virginia and Washington, D.C.

During Intermission, VSU President, Dr. Makola Abdullah, the 2017 HBCU Digest Male President of the Year, and Bowe addressed fans from inside of the ring and posed with them during "photo opts." Petersburg High School's amazing Marching Band, the DJ, and VSU's captivating Fire, kept fans entertained throughout the break.

The event was sanctioned by USA Boxing, the National Governing Body for the sport of Olympic-style boxing in the United States (USA Boxing, 2017). Seated ringside was the medical doctor for each contest, Dr. Lei Charlton, who is a certified USA boxing physician.

The bouts were also sanctioned by Ninth Dimension Sports Circle (Ninth Dimension, 2013), a local (Richmond, VA) boxing organization, which is owned and operated by Omar Aleem. Several of the fighters were products of his program.

Aleem, who served on the Gala's Planning Committee, has also trained several boxing champions including his two sons, Moshe Aleem and Immanuwel Aleem, and daughter, Hanifa Aleem. (Ninth Dimension Sports Circle, 2017). During the boxing event, Immanuwel, a highly regarded celebrity in his own right, was introduced to the lively crowd. To learn more about Ninth Dimension, search WTVR-TV-2018/01/04 "Hull Street gym saving boxing and lives" to locate a special video and story about that much-needed successful boxing program.

Although VSU's history-making version of "Friday Night Fights," will long be remembered for its chic ambience and exciting bouts, Bowe, and other dignitaries participated in a series of additional academically-related activities. The first gathering was a networking session for members of the Sport Management Majors Club. "In a world where studies show that some 80% of job openings are not advertised and 70% are found through networking," (Olech, 2017), this was a particularly significant session.

Live Action from "Ringside" at the Black Tie Boxing Gala

Following that meeting, a highly interactive general forum that was entitled, "The Business of Boxing," was held for numerous students in the HPER Department and in other areas. Led by an illustrious panel of experts, that event gave students a unique "behind the scenes" view of the business aspects of the boxing world, including entrepreneurial opportunities.

The panelists also stressed the need to develop transferable and soft skills. According to Kumar (2017), "Jobs in sports management need aspirants having sensible soft-skills, employable skills besides sports education." The complete list of the incredible speakers is presented below:

Omar Aleem--Ninth Dimension Sports Circle Boxing Gym Owner and USA Boxing Coach

Ron Beauford--Entrepreneur and USA Boxing Official

Riddick Bowe--Former Undisputed Two- Time Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World

Anthony Chase--Olympic Boxing Coach and USA Boxing Coach

T'Shom Dawes--Riddick Bowe's Manager

Clarence McGill--Boxing Amiouncer and USA Boxing Official

In light of the success of the 2017 Gala, plans to feature the 2018 version of this event are currently underway. For readers who may consider hosting their own boxing event, the following information, various aspects of which are based upon Gillentine's and Crow's (2015) event management process, may be useful:

Steps in Planning a Boxing Gala

I. Identify the Purpose of the Event

"The foundation of any event is to first establish the purpose of the event" (Gillentine and Crow, 2015). In accord with that concept, the primary purpose of the Gala was to generate revenue to provide our students with transformative opportunities to network, acquire internships, and to secure future employment through their engagement in conferences, internships, and other pertinent professional development activities. Examples include, but are not limited to our students' prior involvement in events that relate to: VAHPERD Conferences; Minor League Baseball and/or the Richmond Flying Squirrels such as the annual Baseball Winter Meetings; Rev Racing and/or NASCAR activities such as actual NASCAR races; the NFL Career Forum; and the annual VSU Communications, Sport, and Entertainment Symposium.

II. Acquire Administrative Support

Before initiating a boxing event, secure the endorsement of all pertinent administrators. For example, support was garnered from Dr. Abdullah, Dr. Donald Palm (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs), Ms. Reshunda Mahone (Vice President for Institutional Advancement), and Dr. Willis Walter (Dean, College of Education), before the Gala was created.

III. Establish the Event Committee

The committee should meet on a regular basis and be comprised of progressive, creditable, intellectuals who have positive attitudes, such as those who served on the Gala Committee. It is important that members are aware of all applicable policies and procedures (e.g., fund-raising guidelines).

All assignments should be congruent with each member's expertise. For example, there should be only qualified persons who are responsible for selecting the boxers and creating appropriate "matchups." That approach will validate concern for the welfare of the boxers and help to create competitive bouts. Timelines should be established for the completion of all tasks and members must be held accountable for discharging their duties in a timely fashion.

The members of the VSU Boxing Gala Committee, whose immeasurable sacrificial service contributed to the success of the Gala, are presented below:

Dr. Linda J. Person, HPER Department Chair

Omar Aleem, Coach and Owner of Ninth Dimension Sports Circle

Ron Beauford, USA Boxing Official

Dr. Leon Wright Bey, HPER Department Professor

Anthony Chase, USA Olympic Boxing Coach

Lt. George E. Gardner, VSU Campus Police Department Representative

Michael W. Hickman, VSU Compliance Safety Officer II

Tracy L. Jackson, HPER Department Assistant Professor

Yourdonus James, VSU Conference Services Director

Oliver Jenkins, HPER Department Assistant Professor

Brandon Kimble, HPER Department Assistant Professor

Clarence McGill, Event Advisor

Jesse Vaughan, Special Assistant to the President

Luke Runion, Washington, DC Amateur Boxing Promoter, Owner and Operator of Radical Boxing

Jonathan Young, Director of Corporate Relations, R. F. Lewis School of Business

Celeste L. Wynn, HPER Assistant/Building Manager

IV. Secure Sanctioning of the Event

Ensure that the event is sanctioned by proper authorities such as USA Boxing. This action will assure that only certified boxers, coaches, referees, medical personnel, etc. will be involved in the event and encourage participants to be a part of it.

V. Establish the Budget

Establish a plan to generate enough resources (including in-kind contributions) to match the purpose of the event (e.g., make a profit). Identify revenue streams to defray costs associated with facility rental fees, security, insurance, personnel (including consultants, if applicable), travel expenses, food and beverage costs, maintenance, etc.

VI. Secure Facilities and Equipment

Reserve conducive facilities soon after the event has been approved. Ensure that the facility is in line with USA Boxing and/or other pertinent standards.

Locate suitable space for a regulation-size boxing ring, and ringside tables and chairs for judges, the head official, and a certified medical doctor. Provide appropriate lighting, dressing rooms (for men and women), concession stands, parking spaces, hospitality venues, space for boxers to warm up and to participate in "weigh-ins," etc. Ensure that equipment such as scales, a bell, a timer, and stools are available.

The boxing experts on the Gala Committee thought that the VSU facility (Daniel Gymnasium) would be the perfect boxing environment for the event. Helping them to reach that conclusion was VSU's ability to address the aforementioned and other relevant concerns and the strategic locations of the seats on the main floor and in the upper deck which provided all patrons with a good view of the ring.

VII. Create Event Planning Documents

Use standardized templates and/or original versions of "Action Plans," "Bout Sheets," Checklists, etc. to identify: pertinent tasks; due dates; persons who will be held accountable for completing assigned tasks; timelines; and/or other germane information. All documents must be congruent with relevant policies and procedures. Much of the success of the Gala was linked to the Committee's utilization of such documents.

VII. Develop the Marketing Plan

Conduct research to determine the need for the event before constructing your marketing plan. Given the uniqueness of the Gala, there was great interest in that event. Select the date as early as possible and ensure that there are no conflicts with other events that might affect the attendance at your affair. The Gala was held on a Friday prior to a home football game that was played on the next day. That scheduling strategy had a positive effect on the number of people who attended the boxing event.

Identify your target market and design relevant marketing strategies. Secure sponsors and ensure that they receive all agreed upon benefits. Gala sponsors' logos appeared in the event program and their banners were displayed in the "boxing arena." During the actual affair, provide special hospitality events that enable sponsors and other patrons to interact with celebrities (as Gala guests did with Bowe), and other individuals in a relaxed environment. At the Gala, members of the VSU Thompson Hospitality staff hosted an elegant affair that featured a fabulous menu. To maintain goodwill, be sure that sponsors receive letters of appreciation that will help to express your gratitude and provide them with information that they may need for tax purposes. When possible, provide them with extra perks such as the unanticipated miniature boxing gloves (that had been autographed by Bowe) that sponsors received at the Gala.

To create valuable practical experiences for students, involve them in the fundraising process. Be sure that they participate in conducive training sessions such as those that were conducted by Mahone and Jennifer Phillips, a VSU Sport Management Program and Sport Management Majors Club alum, who now serves as the Account Manager for Group Sales for the University of Richmond's Athletic Department. Subsequent to those sessions, students actually helped to secure sponsors for the Gala.

Moreover, Mahone's and Phillips' mentorship was also a reflection of the HPER Department's aim of ensuring that its students are advocates of the concept of Diversity and Inclusion wherein an appreciation for gender equity is among its central foci.

When promoting the event, posters and other relevant information should be spread throughout targeted neighborhoods. Consider contacting boxing gyms, fitness and wellness centers, schools, various businesses, YMCAs, restaurants, strategic campus locations (e.g., VSU's Jones Dining Hall), and other places where large numbers of people (many of whom have active lifestyles and a possible interest in sports like boxing) congregate. As they did for the Gala, allow students to use social media (e.g., Instagram) to promote the event.

Develop a dynamic promo video, such as the one that was created by Jesse Vaughan (Special Assistant to the VSU President), who has won over 25 Emmy Awards, and his assistant, Cedric Owens. To gain access to this incredible video, search "VSU Boxing Gala" on Air time was purchased for the video to be shown on ESPN during designated time slots.

On the day of the affair, continue to promote the event. For example, President Abdullah, a variety of other VSU representatives (including students), and special guests, participated in "Meet and Greet" sessions, a special luncheon that was held at The Croaker's Spot Restaurant in Petersburg, VA, and a tour of the new VSU Multipurpose Center. Bowe also participated in a WVST 91.3 (VSU's Radio Station) radio interview, and in a television interview with sister station, WTVR CBS Channel 6 in Richmond, VA, that was conducted by current Weekend Sports Anchor and Reporter (and VSU Mass Communications Department alum) Sean Robertson.

IX. Develop a Risk Management Plan

When staging a boxing event, the safety of all persons (e.g., participants, spectators) must be of chief concern. Hire an appropriate number of police officers, security guards, etc. to address potential crowd control and related matters. Ensure that an appropriate amount of insurance is provided for all aspects of the event and that only certified personnel (e.g., doctors) are affiliated with it.

To address this critical area, the VSU Compliance Safety Officer and a member of the VSU Campus Police Department served on the Gala's Planning Committee. Guidance was also received from VSU's legal expert who attended selected planning meetings.

X. Event Wrap Up and Evaluation

Use a SWOT Analysis, surveys, interviews, event summaries, "After Action Reports," and/or some other effective method to evaluate the success of the event. Discuss results at the next committee meeting and remember that the likelihood of gaining support for subsequent events will be based upon the success of the first one.

Although what has been shared represents some of the things that we learned via our involvement with the Gala, we would be happy to provide additional information upon request. Please call 804-524-5033 if we can assist you in any way. "We want your event to be a real "knock out!"


Gillentine, A., & Crow, R. B. (2015). Foundations of sport management (Vol. 3). Morgantown, WV: FIT Publishing.

Kumar, S. (2017). Soft skills for sports management. International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, 4(3), 152153. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from PartC/4-3-25-878.pdf

Ninth Dimension Sports Circle. (2013). Retrieved January 7, 2018, from

Olech, L. (2017, August 16). Using alumni networks to get a job Wells Fargo. Retrieved January 06, 2018, from

USA Boxing--What Is USA Boxing? (2017). Retrieved January 07, 2018, from MEMBERSHIP-FAQ

Vadukul, A. (2015, August 21). Ex-Heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe steps into a new arena. Retrieved January 7, 2018, from ex-heavyweight-champion-riddick-bowe-steps-into-a-newarena.html

Linda Person, Chair, HPER Department, Virginia State University, Virginia State University, VA

Leon Wright Bey, Professor, HPER Department, Virginia State University, Virginia State University, VA

Brandon Kimble, Assistant Professor, HPER Department, Virginia State University, Virginia State University, VA

Celeste Wynn, Administrative Assistant, Sport Management Program Graduate Student, HPER Department, Virginia State University, Virginia State University, VA
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Author:Person, Linda; Bey, Leon Wright; Kimble, Brandon; Wynn, Celeste
Publication:VAHPERD Journal
Date:Mar 22, 2018
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