Euro Boxing Roundup: Felix Racz on the past, present and future
04.10.06 - By Per Ake Persson: Hungarian promoter Felix Racz, head and founder of Felix-Promotion, created a big surprise last week when he announced his retirement from professional boxing. During the past weekend he took time out for a conversation on the past, present and future.
Article posted on 05.10.2006
"There is no single reason to why I stop with boxing, itīs many things that have played a part in my decision. I have been in the game for 14 years" states the now 33-year old Racz, "and done it all and it was time to move on. I want to try a different way of life. First up is a long vacation, the first in 14 years, and a trip to Central America."
Racz also operates a golf business, a coffeeshop and a real estate company and and acknowledges that boxing never was the money maker. "Even now with a TV deal I was losing money. In professional boxing I was dealing on the same market as Frank Warren in the UK or Klaus Peter Kohl in Germany and had to pay the same purses for the fighters as they do but thereīs no way I could get the same revenues from ticket sales, sponsors and TV as they can get so I also want to get out while Iīm still on top and havenīt lost too much money. Boxing is of course a tough business but so is any business and thatīs not why Iīm leaving."
So what about the fighters signed to Felix-Promotion? "No problem, most have managers, I was only their promoter, and Iīm sure they can continue. As for my deal with TV 2 in Hungary the contract was to expire December 31 2008 but I was able to get out if now."
Still, it must leave Hungarian boxing in a state of shock when the countryīs leading promoter retires. Some of the best fighters like WBO lightheavy champ Zsolt Erdei are fighting mainly abroad and are signed to other promoters but Felix Raczīs company was by far the biggest nationally and developed stars jr light Janos Nagy, jr middle Attila Kovacs, supermiddle Joszef Nagy, female bantam Bettina Csabi and a number of other high class pros.
Felix started in boxing when in 1992 with his father George when they began with Unio Box Team based in Szekszard. Unio quickly got a number of fighters from countries like Hungary, Romania and what used to Yugoslavia. Some were plain bums, others decent journeymen and along the way they got a few prospects as well. Unio became a main supplier of opponents to rings around Europe. At home there were big conflicts with the Hungarian Federation and rival promoters. "We promoted in what used to be Yugoslavia and wherever we could" says Racz today. "We laugh about the stories today but back then it was pretty serious. During one show in Yugoslavia our guy won but there were people who at gunpoint forced the referee to raise the other guyīs hands. We didnīt go back to the hotel that night, we simply left the town as quickly as we could. These guys were really dangerous. Again, we smile now, we didnīt smile then."
On these shows Unioīs first stars were developed in jr light Laszlo Bognar and lightweight Zoltan Kalocsai. Both would go on to a number of titleshots in Hungary and abroad, winning some, losing some.
Nationally Union fought a tough battle with the existing powers and eventually they formed their own Federation. Racz was at one time on a dark night in Budapest attacked by three men, caught one and could trace him to a rival manager.
Unio gained strength though and played a big part in resurrecting middleweight Andres Galfi, hard punching but one-dimensional, and heavyweight Lajos Eros, more of an overblown cruiser. Galfi challenged Hector Velazco for the WBO title in 2003 and Eros fought Zeljco Mavrovic and Wladimir Klitschko for the EBU title. Both lost but both got a lot of good fights despite their limitations.
In 2001 Felix parted ways with his father. "I had the best possible teacher but it was time to move on". George would continue with Unio Box Team until his death and Unio is still around and supply decent opponents for shows around Europe.
Felix Racz began his Felix-Promotion and the company got its first TV deal in 2003, which for the first time enabled a Hungarian promoter to develop local talent without taking risky fights abroad. The star of the new team became jr light Janos Nagy, who beat Argentinian Juan Pablo Chacon twice but was a big disappointment in losing to WBO ruler Jorge Barrios on a 49 second knockout this spring. Female stars like Bettina Csabi and Viktoria Mile were also important.
Felix donīt rule out a comeback in boxing but for now heīs retired. "I might watch a show on TV feeling good about not having to be there but thatīs it. At least for now ..."
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