|Rick Glaser, in a characteristic pose and his trademark glasses|
|Rick Glaser knows his fighters, and promoters and managers.
|Roberto Duran lands a blow. Glaser worked closely with the champ.
|Don King, the legendary promoter of boxing, calls Glaser “Tenacious.”
There may not be a major fight on television in this country that in some way Rick Glaser didn’t participate.
From negotiating a contract for foreign TV rights, matchmaking, to providing a sparring partner for one of the fighters in the ring.
They call him "The Raccoon," in part because of his trademark dark glasses and, perhaps, because he is wily, crafty, tenacious.
Like a raccoon on the prowl.
He’s controversial. But the credentials of this Town of Tonawanda native and long time Williamsville resident, it can't be disputed, are indisputably impressive:
Glaser has worked with 39 former or sitting champions such as Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran, Lennox Lewis, Hector Camacho, Julian Jackson and Simon Brown. He has established himself as one of the premier matchmakers in the game.
Since 2006, Glaser has been the principle matchmaker for Don King, arguably the greatest boxing promoter in the history of the sport.
“Rick is a good man, dedicated,” King told the Reporter. “He is committed to the sport of boxing and to any project he undertakes. He works with tenacity.”
Famed New York City boxing impresario, Don Majeski agreed. "Rick is a go to guy, the guy you need to get the job done. He has been helpful to me many, many times.”
And Glaser does more than matchmaking.
“I supply services for boxing promoters, fighters, television networks, and casinos," he said. "I offer services as a troubleshooter to re-negotiate stupid deals. I negotiate sparring partners, training expenses, plane tickets and hotel rooms. I’m the glue that brings the whole thing together.”
For example, in 2008, he was the matchmaker in the Joe Calzaghe versus Roy Jones Jr. fight at Madison Square Garden. The bout received considerable media coverage as the Battle of the Superpowers, one of the most hyped light heavyweight bouts in boxing history.
The next year, Glaser again made boxing world headlines after he convinced undefeated welterweight contender James de la Rosa to sign with Don King after de la Rosa had declared bankruptcy and gotten out of his contract with Dino Duva.
In another outside the ring dustup, Glaser was credited with taking lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz away from promoter Willie Savannah and delivering him into the arms of a waiting King.
Of course, Glaser’s close association with King has made him a controversial figure.
“More Steals Than Rickey Henderson,” an Examiner.com headline crowed over a feature article about Glaser in 2009.
But Glaser defends his actions as part of a rough and tumble business.
"If the legalities were open that a fighter can be taken from a guy, I did it." Glaser admits, "Listen, if the roles were reversed and we had a weak contract, them m---ther f---kers would be stealing my fighters. So why not?"
Glaser's reputation internationally is something he relishes, something he cherished since he was a child.
“When I was 12 years old, I went to the Bailey Avenue Theatre and viewed the first Ali-Frazier fight on closed circuit TV and I’ve been hooked ever since,” Glaser told the Niagara Falls Reporter. “I realized how exciting it was listening to the 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the crowd even on the missed punches. There were people of all ages, colors and shapes all thrilled in together, all doing the same thing.”
Before Glaser got into the business of the sport of boxing, he was a used car salesman, and, not unlike the stereotype, he was accused of being crooked. He was indicted on charges of rolling back odometers. Sentenced to probation and community service, it turned out to be, he said, the best thing that could have happened.
“I performed my community service at a Police Athletic League gym on Utica Street where I met Brian La Spada, a local fighter,” he recalled. “I became his promoter and took him to the WBC Cruiserweight Championship, and it was there I first met Don King. After that, I was on my way.”
Of his rise in the boxing business, he described it this way.
"You start out crawling; you get up to speed; and next you're f----ing with the big boys."
In 1992, Glaser started handling Roberto Duran with Pennsylvania promoter Mike Acri. The two put together the Duran – Tony Biglen match in Buffalo.
“I always joke that the federal government put me in business," Glaser said. “I never grew up with African-Americans. I didn’t know their culture. But being a felon was a good introduction. They didn’t consider me as a square white guy. I think they trusted me.”
Glaser is sometimes modest about his success. He explains his work simply: "I supply services," he said. "It's not hard to figure out. I'm able to do this every day and not grow tired of it. Do I live in a jerkwater town like Buffalo? Yeah. Is it a boxing capital? No. But considering I don't live in Vegas, New York, Atlantic City or Miami, I accomplish a lot, with a telephone and a computer and my big mouth. Brains, memory and you gotta have guts.
“I’ve made a living in professional boxing. I’ve afforded myself a good lifestyle. I spend winters in Florida, and am definitely happier doing business with a world class group of people like Don King, Donald Trump, Bob Arum and Martha Stewart. If I was still selling used cars in Buffalo, I would have never had that opportunity.”
One of his longtime , local friends, Joe Amoia, said of him, “Rick is a people person with a photographic memory who has the knowledge, the mind, the patience and temperament to succeed in the boxing world. I am proud to be his friend for more than 30 years.”
But even those who don't feel the same glowing pride in knowing Glaser, are not shy when it comes to calling on him for his services.
"I can read a contract better than a lawyer," Glaser said, not modestly at all. "I can negotiate with anybody in boxing. I'm a great negotiator. I know market value. I know the supply and demand. I got the answers before the question's asked. And I do it daily. I wake up in the morning. I got eight texts, ten missed calls. I start negotiating the moment I wake up. And when I say something, I mean it. I don't take anything back. That’s why people have me do the things I do. They know once I say so, it done. It gets done."
Overheard Phone Call Shows Glaser’s Style
During his interview with the Reporter, Glaser repeatedly got calls.
Most of them he declined. But one he took and the Niagara Falls Reporter heard his side of the conversation.
After a preliminary greetings that night be described as affectionately brusque, Glaser said, “There's two figures to deal with, ok, one is $15,000.”
After a pause, where apparently the man he was speaking with was saying something, Glaser said, "The second figure? …Zero…. Because if you don't take the $15,000 that’s what you get."
The other guy is talking, but Glaser interrupts.
"Let me ask you a question,” he said. “If you don't take this fight, how much will you make that night? Simple question."
The guy talked for a time, Glaser listened. Then Glaser spoke excitedly:
"Well I'm offering you $15,000 compared to $60 bucks you'll make shooting pool.
Anyway, I'm busy. So what are you are going to get, zero or 15 thousand?"
A pause resulted in what might be assumed as a thinking man’s thoughtful, affirmative answer.
Glaser got off the phone. "He says, ‘Gee, I never thought of it that way.’ Here I'm trying to get the guy paid and he's arguing," Glaser said.
Glaser and Don King, an Interesting Match
When Rick Glaser names the three men he admired most in life, he said, Meyer Lansky, Lee Iacocca, and Don King.
While he never met Lansky, he knows Iacocca. But it was King that he has worked with.
And stories about King and Glaser are often told in the boxing business.
For instance: On one occasion, Glaser and King were double teaming a lawyer on some deal. They were at a conference table, King at the head, looking like he was half sleeping, as Glaser went to work on the guy, playing the bad cop.
After listening to Glaser for a while, the lawyer said to him, "I never met you before. I was never familiar with Rick Glaser before. You're a very smart person."
Now King opened his eyes.
"What do you think I have him around here for?" King asked. “His good looks and table manners?"
"One time," as Glaser tells it, "Don King wanted to probe the inner Rick Glaser."
King said to him, "What makes you tick?" Before Glaser could answer, King appeared to change his mind and said, "I don't want to know. I think it is the same thing as me."
Glaser has often been called King's lackey or alternately his henchmen.
And he doesn’t mind it.
"As long as I'm a henchmen to a world icon, what is the problem? As long as I'm not a lackey to a lackey then I'm doing well,” he said.
The two men have dealt with all kinds of people in their business. They sometimes have a running joke, trying to figure out the man, his manners, or the making of a deal, asked with the question "Is he smarter than he looks? Or dumber than he looks?"
"A good question," Glaser says, and of himself he adds, laughing, "I'm smarter than I look. And Don King, he is simply brilliant. One of the smartest men you'll ever meet, anywhere."