Do you remember promoter Lisa Elovich of New York? She’s now into tequila
Lisa Elovich promoted her last boxing event–so far–in 2011. As with so many people in the game though, the time spent in the milieu stayed a part of her more than she might have thought when she got infected with a crush on the sport.
“When I promoted shows, everybody was connected, and it was not at all pretentious,” said the Gen X entrepeneur, who is back in the boxing mix, to a degree, through a foray into the tequila space.
“Everything should be that way, the world would be much better, there wouldn’t be the divisiness we see so much of, the seperateness. In boxing, it’s all different walks of life, all getting along basically. You are there for a purpose, people put their guard down, so to speak, and people don’t look at others as being separate as much. I promoted shows, and everybody was connected, the community felt so small. I used to be able to call matchmakers, promoters, trainers. I’d make a call, “Hey, a bout just fell out,” I’d call Mike Acri, tell him I needed a boxer, or Russell Peltz, I’d call him up, ‘Can you help me?’ Lou DiBella, Joe DeGuardia, who I went to law school with. Bob Duffy…There were so many great people, who asked for nothing in exchange.”
Interesting to hear, right?
Because we often hear about how many wretches are embedded in the sport, yes? “Boxing is different than other businesses, in boxing one can’t succeed without another,” the promoter continued. “There’s a connection there, everybody felt it.”
And Elovich, who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, is trying to summon some of the same vibes with her organic tequila. I won’t say I was skeptical when I reached out to learn more, but yeah, I was curious as to what she has asked Teofimo Lopez, Larry Holmes, Boom Boom Mancini and Maureen Shea to help spread the word why OWL is something special.
Go to the OWL website, and you see a greeting message from Elovich:
Dear Tequila Friends,
As a mother, lawyer, life coach and former boxing promoter, life can often get hectic and full of distractions. Sometimes we forget to fully engage in the present moment, which is the only place where we can truly experience joy and peace.
Creating One With Life Tequila (OWL) has given me the opportunity to share this philosophy in each and every bottle of this unique spirit.
Elovich comes off as a true believer in this product and mission, in my mind. I realize that this is the most stressed time period in maybe the last 50 years or more, so many might be skeptical. But I bought in, on how each bottle contains an inspirational message, interestingly, and she is clear that she sees this derivative from the agave plant as something to partake in moderation.
Elovich (below, smashing the Everlast bag) got a taste of the boxing life when she started doing some boxing training, for fitness.
“And I felt close to people in that gym, it didn’t matter age, sex, religion, opinion, the only thing was what you made of your passion for the sport. People accepted you for the right reasons.”
The community spirit she found led her to want to get deeper in; her first show, she went right to the professional realm, unfolded in 2005, at Saratoga Racino. It was under a tent. “I had no idea what I was doing. I was lucky, Ron Scott Stevens, of the NY athletic commission, and Ralph Petrillo, and Hugo Spindola, they liked the fact, I think, that I was female. At the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway (currently called Saratoga Casino and Raceway) on May 13.”
Yes, a Friday.
“The headline was Frank Houghtaling vs Shakha Moore for the IBC International Welterweight Title,” Elovich, who also spotlight Missy Fiorentino, some all early Al Haymon fighters, Wayland Willingham, Nagy Aguilera, Maureen Shea and Mikey Faragon. So, they thought I could bring some softness to the game. There is a lot of testosterone in that community,” she said, laughing. “In that arena, I found that femininity was OK, but if you were feminine, you still had to be tough. I learned quickly, people would want you to fly people in for fights, spend a lot of money, and you have to set boundaries. Part of my spiritual journey has been to learn to set boundaries, but maintain a certain softness at the same time.”
“That community,” what makes it special stayed with her….
“Once it’s part of you, it never really leaves, for many people, it seems like,” Elovich said. “I never did really leave, but I stopped promoting, and they’d treat me like I was still there. So, when I was reaching out to boxers, on the tequila, they though of me as an insider, still.”
I looked at Boxrec, it says that “Pugnacious Promotions,” Elovich’s fight company, started off in 2005. She recalls in some of her first fights, the promotion did fly a lot of people in. “And the bouts were not very good, there were first and second round KOs. Three bouts fell out the night before (in the debut). One female showed up, pregnant. She’d actually fought not that long ago, while pregnant, in another state. (And that state didn’t do a pregnancy test as part of the routine medicals for a pro card.) And the lessons learned from the first fights? Do my own matchmaking. I learned to read Boxrec, I had to really teach myself, I worked with Paul Brown, who was active in the amateurs. We did it in house after that, learned not to let people take advantage.”
She didn’t fall out of love with it, but in 2011, Elovich got a full time job that didn’t allow to do the boxing as a side hustle, on a parole board. “I had to make a choice, boxing took up a lot of my time, I had two kids at home, too, so it didn’t make sense to continue promoting at that time.”
Her dad was dying of cancer round that time, too, so she bid boxing a fond adieu….but retained a fondness for the sometimes seamy but oft sweet scene. Elovich also kept plugging away at trying to grow spiritually, and did life coaching for a spell, because she enjoyed working and seeing a tangible benefit, as clients made breakthroughs. Her studies helped form a basis for the concept of the tequila, in fact. “I looked at getting beyond the regular racing thoughts, and achieving separation from your thoughts,” she said. “You can observe them, and not get caught up in them.”
The tequila, used in moderation, could I suppose be part of that mentality, because, let’s face it, there is no shortage of angst to get lost in, as our society edges further and further into division and anti-serenity. “The ‘One With Life’ philosophy, a lot of that is from reading Eckhart Tolle. We use the bottle of tequila as a vessel, to help send a spiritual message. You can’t take yourself too seriously, you can’t be pretentious. And I encourage that free spiritedness, that joyfullness, with the tequila. Back in the day, we did a shot after every boxing show, and it was meant to be joful and exuberant. And with alcohol, overall, it’s about balance. To get drunk is not the point of my tequila.”
The parole board stint, it wasn’t easy to achieve distance from the vibe that was often in the air. Murderers and rapists and the like would come before her, and after a few years, well, that takes its toll. So, the shift into the tequila space gained more traction. And she thought about how to marry the upsides she adored in boxing, with the new business foray. That’s how Larry Holmes, Boom Boom Mancini, young gun Teofimo Lopez and vet Maureen Shea got tapped to be reps for the spirit.
“The parole board was an emotionally draining thing, the tequila is light hearted, the opposite of being emotionally drained. “These champions, these boxers, each one has a spirit, and they each got excited about the messaging, ‘One With Life.’ These are kind, really good people, no pretensions. Teofimo, a kid his age, a champion, he’s so humble, no ego, he loves the ‘spirit’ message.
“And Maureen, having overcome domestic violence, she’s also a motivational speaker, who has a message of kindness. It’s almost like the universe brought us together to help spread the message, using tequila!”
Yes, Elovich is still a promoter, she’s deft at weaving in talking points for the liquid. But I don’t know, I think she has something here. I don’t see incongruity in linking some of the themes she brings up, and alcohol. It can’t hurt, I will say that. Yes, booze gets misused too much–and if the ‘One Life’ message spreads some, opens up some eyes, gets people to look at the libation from a different, less sensational angle, then I see upside. For real…I think an Elovich is going to excel, HARD, in a pandemic-mitigated economy. Positivity, and uninhibitedness, are both going to be heavily in style, starting last month.
Back to boxing–
Elovich points to a 2006 scrap, between heavyweights Vinny Maddalone and Shannon Miller, as a promotional highlight. “I got to work with ESPN,” she said, still enthused. And yeah, sure, there were lowlights. But like anyone looking to make spiritual gains, she more so sees those dips as learning experiences. Such as when she portrayed her handle on being able to deliver Irishman Andy Lee for a fight with Bryan Vera a bit too optimistically….
She told Doug Loughery, then running boxing at ESPN, that she could land Lee for a St. Paddys show. Loughery was intrigued, so that meant Elovich had to hustle to get Lee on board. That meant reaching out to Emanuel Steward, his trainer/manager. “I had promoted at Mohegan Sun, Bryan Vera was on the show, and I got to know Emanuel. I had a great convo with Emanuel, and he agreed, Lee would fight on the card.” But Steward wasn’t so keen on Vera as the foe, because he wanted to protect Lee’s chin. The match got made, and guess what…Manny’s instinct was right on. Vera stopped Lee in round seven. To add to the insult, it became clear that Lisa had been enthusiastic in pitching the card, and so, she says, “ESPN cut me out of the rematch, they discovered what I’d done.”
She relays the story with warmth, there are no hard feelings. And she continues down the road of recollections. Like when Daren Graham, a light heavyweight, was to be fighting near his home town. But his fight was in peril, when word came out tha his foe, driving from Ohio to NY for the scrap, had a flat AND ran out of gas. “Daren got in his car, got gas, fixed the flat with the guy, and the fight was on,” Elovich shares. “That shows you how different boxing is from other sports!”
She figures the tequila can really take off when the pandemic is truly brought to heel.
“I want to a lot of charity events, I want this to be a philanthropic company,” Elovich said.
“Regardless what happens with the tequila, I’m so happy to be working with this group. I have faith the company is going to take off, the collective energy of this group, the success they’ve seen in other parts of their lives, there’s no reason to think they’ll not succeed with this. OWL is available, we have 1,000 accounts, in Florida, New York, Georgia, we’re growing. I get calls from distributors wanting to get it into different places, including online, direct to consumer. I want to keep growing, organically, eventually go national, be in every state, until ‘One’ becomes a household name. A lot of tequila brands start with $50 million from hedge fund guys, we’re not that, we’re doing this at an authentic level. I didn’t want the hedge fund way. We’re doing it the natural way. And I really believe the universe is in our corner. Because we have such good collective energy with this group, we’re gonna succeed. We are fierce and kind, humble warriors!”