When the former CEO of Rap-a-Lot Records, J. Prince, decided to venture into boxing after years of hip hop success in 2003, he thought it would be a quick fix for his company’s decline. After all, the industry was still struggling with its “Moneyball” stigma. However, Prince began building relationships and making strategic moves that ultimately catapulted him to one of the most successful businessmen in sport history.,
J. Prince is the CEO of Roc Nation Sports, which became one of boxing’s most powerful companies after signing Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward to multi-million dollar contracts in 2016. The company has already helped bring Shakur Stevenson to prominence this year with a $1 million deal before his professional debut next month.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a boxer that has reached fame in the sport of boxing, but he did not start out on his own. J. Prince helped bring him to fame, and now he is helping others get there too.
22nd of October, 2021
ESPN’s Eric Woodyard
Shakur Stevenson, ecstatic after a large paycheck, believed it was time to get iced out.
He had recently defeated Jeremiah Nakathila to win the WBO interim junior lightweight championship. His 24th birthday was approaching quickly. As a result, Stevenson decided to treat himself to a massive, diamond-encrusted necklace with a spectacular pendant with his initials, SS.
Stevenson was looking for an opportunity to indulge. James Prince, or J. Prince, his co-manager, sought to put things in perspective.
“I intended to go out and get another chain.” But I didn’t own a home at the time. “He sat me down and put me in the path of obtaining a home because I didn’t have none of that stuff,” Stevenson said of Prince. “That’s more essential than going out and buying a few chains, jewels, and watches.”
“‘I’m trying to look nice out here,’ I was thinking. ‘I’m trying to get the chain,’ says the narrator “He went on to explain. “But I did listen to him, and I believe that was one of the wisest decisions I’ve made now that I’m in this predicament. It’s nice to have my own space where I can relax, live, and feel safe. He steered me in the proper route without a doubt.”
Stevenson, then an amateur boxer, met Prince via a common acquaintance, Antonio Leonard, a number of years ago, and the friendship and mentoring that came with it started a lot of years ago. The two then played pool together, remained at Prince’s house, and connected via informal chat.
ESPN and ESPN+ broadcast Top Rank Boxing. Get exclusive boxing events, weigh-ins, and more by subscribing to ESPN+.
Undercard: Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson, ESPN+, Saturday, 7:25 p.m. ET
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN ET: Jamel Herring defends his WBO junior lightweight championship against Shakur Stevenson in a 12-round bout.
As Stevenson went through the 2016 Olympic experience of earning a silver medal, they got closer. Stevenson claims that Prince never actively pursued him to become his manager, at least not visibly, but rather built a relationship with him via discussions about boxing history. Gradually, discussion of personal business goals surfaced, and it was Prince’s likeable demeanor that persuaded Stevenson to sign with him.
Stevenson, a native of New Jersey, currently resides in Houston, the same place where Prince established himself as one of the hip-hop industry’s most revered figures as the founder and CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records.
J. Prince taught iconic rap talents Drake, Scarface, and Bun B along the road, and his business prowess inspired other Southern hip-hop moguls such as Master P of No Limit Records and Birdman of Cash Money Records.
Master P told ESPN, “When you speak about J. Prince, he’s the godfather of this.” “I’ve seen a lot of fantastic managers in hip-hop and even in boxing, but I haven’t seen a Black man in this position, where people follow your leadership, people want to be with you, and even a person who’s willing to fight for the people he loves.”
And Prince has been a strong supporter of Stevenson. Prince, along with co-manager Josh Dubin, believes that the platform he’s on right now is the one they’ve always envisioned for their fighter since they started working together. On Saturday, Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) takes on Jamel Herring in perhaps the most difficult fight of his career (23-2, 11 KOs). In the headline event of a Top Rank night at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Herring’s WBO junior lightweight championship will be on the line.
“The timing is ideal right now. The effort has been made. The transformation has occurred, and now is the time for us to claim and receive what is rightfully ours “According to Prince. “We’ve been on the radar for a while and have let various things happen, but we’re excited to visit Atlanta, which is one of the locations in the South that I like. And we’re going to give this guy an ass whipping for the rest of his life. Straight to the point.”
J. Prince and Josh Dubin co-manage Shakur Stevenson. Garcia, Abiel
PRINCE WAS A SUCCESS IN HIS OWN RIGHT BEFORE HE STARTED BOXING. After enormous success with renowned artists including as Scarface, the Geto Boys, Pimp C, Bun B, Devin the Dude, Tela, and many more, he formed Rap-A-Lot Records in 1987, laying the groundwork for Southern independent rap companies to follow.
However, he was unsatisfied. His first passion was boxing. He wanted to box as a youngster, and as he got older, he wanted to be among boxers. He eventually determined that he wanted to work as a management in the sector.
Prince opened a boxing facility in Houston around the turn of the century. Then, as he frequently does when making life’s most important choices, he went down on his knees and prayed to God for a world champion boxer.
He flew to Las Vegas in 1999 with the intention of seeing Mike Tyson, but his vacation took an unexpected turn. Prince was constantly contacted by a teenage Floyd Mayweather, who was a great admirer of his record company, while in a Vegas gym.
Mayweather and Prince exchanged information, and Prince started working with Mayweather when Tyson ghosted him following their encounter. Prince’s association with Mayweather continued until 2003, when it was ended due to a financial disagreement, but the pinnacle for Prince was his encouragement of Mayweather to fight an undefeated Diego Corrales in 2001. Mayweather won by TKO in the tenth round after down Corrales five times.
“Right now, Floyd and I are having a good time. We’re OK. We communicate with each other. We have a mutual regard for one other “According to Prince. “I’m happy of what he’s accomplished and grateful for the chance he provided me, since he gave me my first taste of boxing, and I haven’t looked back since. He always tells me that he loves and appreciates me because he recognizes what I’ve done for his career. We’re both at a good place in our life.”
Working with Mayweather gave Prince the confidence to manage other fighters, including many world champions. Andre Ward, Winky Wright, and now Stevenson have all benefited from Prince’s guidance. More than 15 fighters are now under his JPrince Boxing stable, with Stevenson and rising heavyweight Jared “Big Baby” Anderson being the most well-known.
“One of the most important responsibilities of a manager is to safeguard your fighter. You must also safeguard your combatant in a variety of methods “According to Prince. “Boxing, like the entertainment industry, is a vicious business, and promoters have robbed boxers for decades and centuries. As a manager, one of my goals was to [put an end to a procedure] that [promoters] had been engaging in for years, such as defrauding [their boxers] of their hard-earned money after they enter the ring and risk their lives.”
Scarface had no doubt Prince would be successful as a boxing manager based on his track record when he originally wanted to make the switch from music mogul to boxing manager.
“James is methodical in all he does. And his actions are the result of a great deal of thought and insight. He doesn’t simply do s—- on the spur of the moment, for example “Scarface said. “Everything: victories, defeats, and everything else. He is aware of the situation.”
Scarface credits Prince for assisting him in breaking into the rap business after being nurtured in the Houston ghetto by his grandparents. Prince, much as he has been a guiding light for many other fighters, kept an eye on Scarface and helped him succeed. They’ve had their ups and downs throughout the years, mostly due to business, but their brotherhood is still going strong.
“I couldn’t have done it without him, and if you ask him, he’ll tell you the same thing,” Scarface remarked. “There was no way it was going to happen any other way.”
J. Prince, a boxing manager, talks to ESPN about his strong friendship with rising star Shakur Stevenson. Prince, who is also the CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records, is well-known in the music business and has previously collaborated with Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward. Video
WARD WAS 18 YEARS OLD and had recently lost his father to a heart attack in 2002 when he got a chilly call from Prince.
Ward had unexpectedly missed a national boxing event, and without his father’s coaching, his enthusiasm for the sport was swiftly evaporating.
Ward’s potential had caught Prince’s attention, and he had followed him down. Ward informed Prince over the phone that he didn’t know whether he wanted to continue boxing anymore, and he was upfront and honest about it. He simply wanted to find out what he wanted to do with his life.
“I believe your talent is to be in that ring,” Prince said Ward, “and I would love to see you back in that ring.” “I don’t know you, but given what I’ve heard, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Following that first encounter, their connection blossomed. Ward signed with Prince after winning gold at the 2004 Olympics. Ward cites Prince as one of the people who helped him get back on track during that difficult time. Ward was able to rediscover his enthusiasm for the sport thanks to Prince’s assistance.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Prince and Ward, like Mayweather, were embroiled in a tense financial feud. Following a contract dispute with Prince in 2008, Ward launched a lawsuit against him. Prince responded by filing a lawsuit to defend his stance after being served.
The lawsuits were only active for about a month, as they worked out their differences over a long conference in California, with their pastors guiding them through the process. They eventually came to an understanding. When large sums of money were involved, the discourse became more difficult.
“I just wanted J to realize that I fought just as hard outside the ring as I did inside the ring,” Ward said. “Unfortunately, it took a lawsuit to grab his attention, but when the cases were filed, we began talking to one other instead than past each other.”
Prince has earned a reputation as a savvy businessman over the years, and despite occasional financial snafus, Ward claims Prince really cares for his boxers.
“J’s influence is felt far and wide. His roots in the game are deep, and the influence he has is sometimes unseen due to the fact that he is offline “Ward said. “Trying to assist people like myself, now Shakur, with their personal lives, their money, their taxes, their lifestyles, their relationships, and just navigating those types of things, those things don’t make the news.”
J. Prince (right) has worked with a number of boxing champions, notably Shakur Stevenson (left) and Andre Ward (right) (center). Shakur Stevenson provided this image.
THE VALUE OF PRINCE’S CONCERN FOR THE PEOPLE HE MANAGES IS UNDERSTANDABLE. It’s on show today with Stevenson, whose friendship with Prince extends beyond business to a personal level.
Prince often combines his hip-hop and boxing origins, like as when he invites Stevenson and Scarface to his house for card games.
“Oh, he’s a celebrity. He can’t even play spades “When speaking about Stevenson, Scarface replied with a giggle. “He’s a helluva boxer, one of the finest, but he’s second best at the spades table with me.”
Stevenson is aware of Prince’s no-nonsense reputation thanks to Mayweather and Ward’s anecdotes. Stevenson, on the other hand, has no fear of Prince. He holds him in high regard.
One of the numerous reasons Stevenson is in a position to challenge Herring for the title is their connection. Stevenson has received not just the leadership he needs, but also the protection he requires. He’s kept Stevenson from getting into bouts too soon, making unwise bets, and letting fame get the best of him.
After years of working with many of the sport’s biggest names, Prince did all he could to keep Stevenson focused on his objectives. On a diamond chain, no way.
“I grew up as the eldest of nine children. “My whole goal and everything began with a desire to provide for my family,” Stevenson said. “I suppose, as you grow older and stuff like that, you lose sight of some things that are actually more essential than anything,” she says. Someone like J, on the other hand, will get you back on track and show you why you’re doing this. It’s motivating enough to observe how he interacts with his family. When I’m older and wiser, I’d want to be like that with my family.
“It goes far beyond business. J treats me as if I were a member of his family. I get the impression that he treats me as if I were his own kid “Added he. “He has his own boys out here, so the fact that he treats me like one of his own makes me feel comfortable and welcome to be around him.”
- j. prince
- floyd mayweather sr