It was announced last week that the head of Thompson Boxing Promotions, Ken Thompson, who founded the company in 2000, had passed away at the age of 85. His 'real' job was being a construction magnate, but boxing was his passion that eventually turned into a successful business.
He aided in building and constructing many things -- including world-class boxers.
Thompson Boxing certainly made an impact in the sport, having developed the likes of Josesito Lopez, former unified champion, Danny Roman, and most notably, newly minted Hall-of-Famer, Tim Bradley.
To Bradley, the impact he made on him, extended far beyond boxing.
"As far as what he meant to my career, I think it's more about what he meant to my life," Bradley told SNAC.com. "With Mr. Thompson, there's a reason why I'm in the position here I'm at. There was a lot of help along the way from different, various people, like Alex Camponovo, the whole Thompson crew, Thompson Boxing Promotions. They were a family.
"Mr.Thompson gave me a chance when no one else did."
While Bradley had a solid amateur career, he didn't attract any real attention from the name brand promotional outfits. After a coming up short in his bid for the 2004 Olympics, he found himself in a bit of limbo. But it was a chance encounter with employees who worked for Thompson that set him on his professional path.
Bradley recalls he was at the Desert Princess in Cathedral City for a hotel party that he saw an individual with a TBP polo shirt. "I said, 'Hey, are you a boxing promoter?" Bradley would then explain his background. To which the employee asked him to put up his hands.
"And he smacked me in the head," recalled Bradley, laughing at the recollection. "He smacked me again, 'You're not a boxer.'"
And long before Dana White got involved, a slap-fight had broke out, before the two were separated.
After conferring with his father, and then linking up with trainer, Joel Diaz, a call was made to Thompson Boxing, who booked him for his pro debut on August 20th of 2204 at Omega Products International in Corona. It was there in that lumberyard that a Hall-of-Fame career was hatched as Bradley stopped Francisco Martinez in two.
Two months at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario, he scored a four round decision over Raul Nunez. And a month later he knocked out Luis Medina in 18 seconds. He was soon being promoted exclusively by Thompson Boxing. "He treated us like human beings, he's a very respectful guy," Bradley said of Thompson.
While not under the umbrella of a 'major' promoter like Top Rank or Golden Boy, being with Thompson Boxing allowed him to be a big fish in a relatively small pond. 'the Desert Storm' wasn't just another prospect, but a priority.
In 2005 and 2006 he boxed seven times. Then in 2007 as he became a 10-round fighter, he performed four times. The large majority of these bouts took place at the DoubleTree Hotel, which has served as their base for their monthly program.
"I was happy to stay active," said Bradley, who originally signed a two-year deal with the company that included a monthly stipend of a $1,000. The money wasn't great, but the experience and seasoning was priceless. "I had to earn it. They challenged me."
By 2008, Bradley captured his first world title as he nipped Junior Witter in Notthingham, England for the WBC 140-pound title. The rest as they say is history. The most lucrative part of his career was spent with Top Rank, where he battled the likes of Manny Pacquiao (three times) and Juan Manuel Marquez for millions.
Regardless, Bradley's career is a crowning achievement for TBP.
""100-percent, it's not just the fact he was with us until he was 27-0, he was already a unified world champion. We started with him turning pro, it was a great achievement to see him go through different stages of his career, from ShoBox, and Showtime Championship Boxing, and to HBO," said Camponovo, who is the matchmaker and General Manager for the company.
Bradley, who is now color commentator for ESPN, says he learned a valuable lesson from his promoter that extended beyond the ring.
"During the time I was with them, Mr. Thompson would drop little gems to me," he explained. "But there was one thing that probably the greatest advice I've ever gotten from anybody in my entire life. He said, 'Invest in yourself, and re-invest in yourself constantly, Tim.'
"At that time I didn't understand what that meant," he continued. "I understand what it meant like in terms of money, like when you get money, invest in yourself. But he was just talking about life in general. Invest in yourself, no matter what you're doing. Invest time in yourself, then when you're successful, you're constantly trying to perfect yourself, constantly trying to be a better person in all aspects of life. It's not just business.
"I live by this. I literally live by investing in myself."
Come June, he will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame in Canastota, New York. Bradley has a considerable amount of gratitude to those who help launch this career.
"They built me, Mr. Thompson, Alex Camponovo. They gave me different styles and made me into what I am today. There's no doubt about it, without them, I wouldn't be sitting here."
So moving forward, what happens now to Thompson Boxing?
"We're going to continue on," answered Camponovo. "We're not stopping our events. He wanted us to continue with his legacy, and for the foreseeable future, everything's going to remain the same."
Their next show will be March 10, and a ceremony to honor Thompson will be held at 7 pm at the DoubleTree in Ontario before the opening bell at 8.
Kyte Monroe | Thompson Boxing
Make no doubt about it, Ken Thompson was a boxing fan. Long before he was a promoter, he regularly attended fights at the Olympic Auditorium, the Forum, the Reseda Country Club and had season seats to Roy Englebrecht's series. Later he became the president of the World Boxing Hall-of-Fame for a few years.
"He loved it," Camponovo said of his love of boxing. "It was a passion, and it became a business. But he never lost that passion."
I said years ago that Thompson Boxing was the best club program in the land. My opinion was reinforced as I worked their broadcasts alongside Beto Duran, and then later Doug Fischer, Jessica Rosales and Rich Marotta, in subsequent years.
This opinion was only strengthened as I saw them create their own 'bubble', and continue on with their program at the Omega Products International inside their warehouse in 2020 and 2021 during the height of the pandemic. Thompson Boxing is a first-class operation and a real team.
And yeah, I have an admittedly biased opinion, but tell me another club program that has produced the type of talent they have in the past two decades.
As for Mr. Thompson, what I remember most about him was how he was perpetually in a good mood, always friendly, and loved to chat. At every show at the DoubleTree he could be seen greeting his ticket buyers with a smile and a handshake near the front door. By the first bell, he'd be in his seat to watch every single round on his cards.
The shows will go on, but they wont be quite the same without him.