Terence Crawford says boxing union could bring stability for former fighters

Crawford, who believes boxers should be entitled to standard benefits such as 401(k), pension plans, and group health insurance, expressed particular concern for those who have yet to progress as far in their careers as he has.

Terence “Bud” Crawford is on a mission to form a professional boxing union, believing it could bring stability to former fighters.

The first welterweight boxer to win all four professional championships in his 147-pound weight class, Crawford pictures a union that would ensure the same benefits that big league American baseball, basketball, and football players enjoy. According to Bloomberg, he believes boxers should be entitled to standard benefits such as 401(k), pension plans, and group health insurance.

His efforts come as organized labor movements make significant gains or fight for better contracts.

believes boxers should be entitled to standard benefits such as 401K, pension plans, and group health insurance.
Undefeated WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford shadowboxes during a media workout at UFC APEX on July 19, 2023, in Las Vegas. Crawford is on a mission to create a professional boxing union. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

According to CBS News, after a weeks-long battle between UPS and the Teamsters Union, which bargained with the carrier last month to prevent a strike and obtain a new contract for 340,000 union workers, officials decided that UPS drivers will earn an average of $170,000 in annual pay and benefits after a five-year contract agreement.

The company’s website states that the Teamsters Union represents over 70% of UPS’ 443,000 employees. 

“There are a lot of great fights that have been happening but as a whole there is a lot of cleaning up to be done for boxing to be where it needs to be,” said Crawford, Bloomberg reported. “We don’t have a union but there needs to be one.”

Catherine Fisk, an employment and labor law professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said collective negotiation could provide boxers access to advantages other professional athletes have long enjoyed.

She pointed out that they would receive the same benefits provided to all other unionized workers, including having employers contribute to pension and retirement plans, making boxers eligible for benefits.

Fisk advised prizefighters to “look at football, basketball, and baseball,” noting that they were poorly paid jobs for most athletes until they unionized.

Even entry-level players in those sports “have more control over how they monetize their athletic ability,” Fisk noted.

Crawford said another justification for organizing a union is more business transparency. “The managers, the promoters, the advisers, they sometimes work together, and it all works against the fighter,” he noted.

In July, Crawford won the biggest fight of his career with a decisive victory over Errol Spence Jr.

He expressed particular concern for boxers who have yet to progress as far in their careers as he has, noting that if all of the top fighters with a name and a brand behind them banded together, they could affect change.

Boxing contracts can have different structures depending on the fighter’s status and promotion. Many world champion boxers receive a cut of pay-per-view revenue, which can boost their pay to the seven- or eight-figure range.

As for the rest of the professional boxing industry, most fighters are paid based on a predetermined price. After receiving compensation, boxers must reimburse their managers, trainers, and a portion of their cut to cover promotion costs.

Investments, endorsement contracts, and brands that athletes develop can all provide opportunities for athletes to make additional income. For instance, Crawford has collaborations with the athletic wear manufacturer BoxRaw, the sports drink Prime Hydration, the fashion label Billionaire Boys Club, and the manufacturer of sports equipment Everlast. 

He also said his real estate portfolio comprises more than 100 homes in Missouri, Colorado, and Nebraska.

Crawford acknowledged that his actions would spark conflict and that some people would oppose forming a union, but he vowed to bring about change for boxers.

He has compiled a list of other top-ranked boxers from “different races, different ages, different countries” who could join forces with him to kick off the process. However, he has yet to contact any of them.

“A lot of fighters go broke after they finish fighting and that shouldn’t happen,” said Crawford, Bloomberg reported. “If a fighter gets seriously damaged or hurt, he or she should have something backing them so they don’t have to look for money to help pay for their medical bills.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!