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Calzaghe reveals poor earnings from early career
Retired Welsh boxing champion Joe Calzaghe has revealed the astonishingly low income he earned for the early part of his career in a brief interview with the Daily Telegraph.
Calzaghe (46-0, 32ko) discloses that in younger days when he turned professional, he struggled make ends meet.
The Welshman lived at home until he was a young man, taking various jobs, such as manual work alongside his mother in a cake factory. Calzaghe only lasted 3 days after deciding sitting on a conveyor belt sticking labels to cake boxes was not his vocation in life.
His mother was upset that he'd jacked in the job she had secured for him so soon, but Joe informed her not to worry as "He was going to be a world champion boxer".
Despite turning professional at 21 and earning a shilling, he revealed that his early pay days were, with hindsight, not particularly well structured. Effectively Calzaghe was on a wage, revealing that his 'signing on' fee was in reality a loan, which would be deducted over the course of his fighting career.
"When I turned pro in 1993, I was naive. I was seven times British champion when I met promoter Mickey Duff and manager Terry Lawless. I was with my now ex-wife Mandy and I signed a deal which, in hindsight, was poor.
I got a £3,000 loan, but I didn't realise it was a loan at the time. I was on the wage system, where whatever I earned from the fights would be totted up against the wage. So I was on about £300 a week from my first 15 fights. I got a small mortgage, but then Mandy became pregnant, so things changed and I was really struggling to make the payments.
Things really only started to change when I fought for the world title against Chris Eubank in October 1997. I'm thankful I won the fight. Even so, the situation didn't improve overnight and I still had financial wobbles." revealed Calzaghe.
His first 15 fights stretched over roughly a two year period. Effectively his earnings were around £15k per year before stoppages.
"It was only once I started to defend my title a few times that I became a lot more comfortable financially. I then bought a bigger house, a nice car and was able to save money as well as having a pension. In sport, you have to stay focused. It wasn't just a case of me wanting to win. I had to win, not just for me, but for my kids and wife. That hunger kept me a champion for 11 years. The last couple of years of my career, I was making really big money – the biggest when I was 36."
A multi-million pound law suit is still being argued in the courts after Calzaghe's earnings from his Bernard Hopkins fight were swallowed up when the promotional company involved went under.
But prize fights won against the likes of Mikkell Kessler and Roy Jones afforded the Welshman to live comfortably and his sound investments over the years will guarantee that his two children will have financial security in the future.
"I've been quite shrewd with investments over the years, including property in the UK and worldwide, like Barbados. I've got an Audi R8 at the moment and I like my little treats, after all those years of getting hit for a living.
I have two sons, aged 16 and 13, so I've got them in mind when I invest. I know how hard it is to make money so I respect it. I also know that I've still got a lot of living left after retiring at 36 and I'll never make the kind of money that I made in boxing again, so I have to be careful with what I've got." added Calzaghe.
Boxing is one of the shortest careers in any sport, with many failing to put away money for their futures when they hang up the gloves. But Calzaghe has shrewdly invested in a decent pension along with the incomes from his holiday home portfolio.
"I've got a sports pension, which is capped at £150,000 a year. You can start drawing on it at 36, but I'm trying to leave it in for as long as I can." said Joe.
But revealed his most treasured investment is in Barbados.
"My £1 million four-bedroom villa in the Royal Westmoreland estate, next door to Wayne Rooney's villa, because it's in a prime place in the Caribbean. I use it as well as renting it out, starting from £600 per night in the low season, so I can make a lot of money from it, rather than leaving it empty doing nothing.
I have quite a large property portfolio, so much so that I rely on my management to keep track of everything. My dad is Sardinian, so I have a seven-bedroom property in Alghero in north-west Sardinia, which I use a lot. Most of the other places are for rental purposes only and I never go there – resorts in Bulgaria, Turkey and Mexico."
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