NEW YORK – For the past two years, New York-based light heavyweight Ronson Frank has remained out of the ring as the sand drains out of the hourglass of his career. Though unbeaten at 16-0 (8 knockouts), Frank is 35 years old, and without a big amateur background to speak of, there were few serious offers from promoters to advance his career.
Some of the calls he had gotten — such as one he says he received to fight fellow unbeaten light heavyweight Sergei Kovalev with eight days’ notice — were downright insulting.
That’s why Frank has decided to start Uprising Promotions, a vehicle which he hopes will propel his career forward with himself at the helm. The first step in this new venture takes place this Wednesday, when he faces Sharif Kemp (8-5, 6 KOs) of Atlanta, at the Five Starr Banquet in Long Island City, N.Y., in an eight-round bout.
Frank says going into business for himself was a must.
“I was having difficulties getting my own fights,” said Frank. “For whatever reason, some of the promoters just didn’t want to deal with me.
“For some reason, maybe because of my age and I have a brain in my head, I don’t jump at every opportunity they give me if I don’t think it’s a good one. I think some of these promoters are out just to use the fighters just to benefit themselves and not knowing that it’s the fighters who are actually putting money in their pockets.”
Frank, who was born in Guyana but moved to New York as a young child, comes from a fighting family. His older brother Raul Frank challenged the late Vernon Forrest twice for the vacant IBF welterweight title, while his other brother Steve Frank challenged Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight title in 1996. That atmosphere eventually convinced Ronson to try it out himself, and despite coming to the sport late he managed to make it to the finals of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves tournament in 1999.
“It’s a family thing,” said Frank, who is trained by fellow Guyana native Colin Morgan. “I have a couple of brothers that fought. I grew up around it since I was a kid. I would go to the gyms and watch my brothers perform. They never got to win a world title, but they got to the level just below that. I want to be the one to get us past that notch and bring a world title home.
“It’s still my ambition to do that but I’m also realistic with my approach. As of right now, I have to take it step by step and build my way back up and get active. Get the rust off and maybe by early next year I would like a title shot.”
Without a lot of amateur background to speak of, Frank took soft touches early in his career to gain safe experience. He also found work as a sparring partner whenever top fighters needed southpaw work, such as Carl Froch and Peter Quillin, the latter of whom he trained alongside for years at Trinity Boxing in New York. Being around successful fighters served to earn him experience, but made him long for a day when he too found himself on that level.
“I’ve sparred with these guys and I feel I’ve been the bridesmaid but never really the bride,” said Frank.
While promoting his own fights allows him to control his own destiny to an extent, it does also bring new challenges.
“The hardest part of promoting is fighting and promoting,” said Frank. “I find that very difficult. I’m trying to run my training camp also while taking care of paperwork and dealing with each fighter. You’re going on a hands-on basis taking every phone call because you know you’re the primary person that’s handling the promotional business. Every phone call and issue comes to you.”
But it also gives him a chance to help other fighters in need. The card will include former Golden Gloves champion and fellow Guyana native Trevis Hall (2-1, 1 KOs) plus three female bouts. Eileen Olszewski (7-4-2), who faces Patricia Alcivar (6-1, 3 KOs) in an eight-round flyweight bout, is a former WIBA titleholder. Promising young female prospects such as bantamweight Jennifer Santiago (2-0), of Brooklyn, and flyweight Susan Reno (1-0) will also be in action in separate fights.
“At first it was just to get an opportunity to start fighting for myself,” said Frank. “But then I saw it could be a great platform for me to help other fighters who are in the same predicament that I’m in. The response that I got from the other fighters asking to be on the show … it was great. There are not enough shows locally to put everyone on, but I feel I got a great response to all the fighters.”
Being your own boss comes with risks, but they are risks that Frank can live with, considering the alternative.
“I’m not gonna give anyone a win over me as a stepping stone,” said Frank. “There’s no selling myself out for short term, for money, and hurting myself in the long term by getting a loss and falling off the map. I can live with not selling out.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at [email protected] An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.