Sunday, June 04, 2023  |


Former Drug Kingpin Freeway Rick Ross Enters The Boxing World

Fighters Network

Freeway Rick Ross doesn’t hide from a past that stretches a few million miles long. At one time he was the unrivaled drug kingpin of California in the mid-1980s, with an estimated revenue of around $900 million. Drug lore has it that Ross accrued a bounty of $3 million in one day, federal prosecutors estimated.

He was an icon, running the rich-and-famous set, until his life and business turned in 1996 when he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

On appeal, Ross’ sentence was reduced and on September 29, 2009, he was released from prison.

He ruled over the drug game for years. Now, Ross, 62, is wants to rule over the boxing game, which many would say is around the corner of the same red-light district as the drug game.

Ross has started Team Freeway Boxing, working as an adviser, in conjunction boxing businessman Rick Glaser.

Ross has already signed undefeated prospects Nafear Charles, VeShawn Champion and Erick Kedar Gianous, along with Alvin Varmall Jr. and former contender Anthony Peterson.

Ross has lived many lives, and seen the world from a billion places, including behind bars where he learned how to read at 28.

“I’ve been able to conquer anything that I’ve ever done,” Ross said. “When I got into the dope, I thought I was out to get money, but when I made more money than I ever thought I would ever make, my goal was to go to prison. I didn’t have to go to prison if I didn’t want to.

“After I was in prison, I realized I thought my way into prison, and I thought my way out of prison. You know how you think of something? What I learned in life, thinking is a tangible thing. People that think negative things about things come out in negative ways.

“When you have something on your mind constantly, it happens. Yeah, it’s like a football player who is always thinking about getting hurt playing, they’re going to get hurt playing.”

Ross said while he was sitting in prison writing his first book, any kid who picked it up would find out about the drug business. Ross wanted to also provide an inside look at the drug trade. As he was writing the book, Ross thought back on the time he went to the Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvin Hagler fight in Las Vegas.

Ross was with all of the major Los Angeles drug dealers sitting in a diner when Don King walked in. Ross always wondered what would have happened if he approached King about entering the boxing business.

“I always thought if I did that, what would have happened when King got older, I would have been able to take over and take the reins,” Ross said. “I thought about that all of the time when I was in prison. After I got out in September 2009, I was in a halfway house, and one of the guys in the house put me on the phone with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“Floyd looked up to me and when I got out, Floyd said he would be there when I got out—and he was. That impressed me. I was making $3 million a day at the height of my power. This is my second chance.”

Ross hopes to cultivate the group of fighters he has with teaching them interview skills and what they need to do to build their brand.

“I’ve been moving fast, and when I got Charles, who was 2-0 and now he’s (8-0-1, 7 KOs),” Ross said. “When I look at boxing right now, and I see someone like Jake Paul come right in, and if he were a businessman, he would be able to take over without any resistance.

“Boxing is not about beating people up anymore. It’s about how popular you are. I’ve been out 13 years and it’s changed my life. This is my second chance, and I’ll keep saying that. I want to help guys with their marketing and educate them on how to make themselves more popular.”

Ross had earmarked numerous title contenders, then decided to build his way up with fighters who are beginning.

But why boxing? Why get into this crazy business?

“You need billions of dollars to buy an NBA or NFL franchise, you don’t need billions to get a start into boxing,” Ross said. “Boxing is the cheapest way. You can have a guy get his start and take off, and then you’re in business.

“They lie like dogs in the drugs business. I made about 200 deals a day. I had blocks when I was running my business. I’m a high school dropout and I learned how to read and write while I was in prison. I became so good at it that I could debate the law with anyone.

“It’s what got me out of prison.”

Now, Ross hopes, he conquers the boxing world.

“There’s going to come a time when everyone in boxing will want my phone number,” Ross said.


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.


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