Main Events' Kathy Duva on working with Everlast, training a third-generation boxing promoter & more (Exclusive)
- Sportskeeda's exclusive interview with the New Jersey-based boxing promoter as she opens up on a myriad of topics.
Arguably the brand most synonymous with boxing, Everlast has been producing boxing gear since 1917; the company itself formed in 1910 in Bronx, N.Y. to make swimwear that would last longer than one year, hence the company's moniker. Everlast also expanded into MMA world in recent years, winning the "Best Technical Equipment Brand" multiple times at the World MMA Awards.
Everlast recently made headlines with its "First Is Strong" campaign, which challenges consumers to carve their own path to success. In support of the campaign’s mission, Everlast has launched a petition for the removal of the word “female” on the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) championship belts. Penned by Everlast athlete and former WBO Featherweight Champion Heather Hardy, the petition urges these sanctioning bodies of boxing to see all competitors as equal without the need to qualify a champion’s gender.
Kathy Duva is a supporter of Hardy's petition and Everlast as a whole. A boxing promoter and current CEO of Main Events, Duva was notably a sports reporter at the New York Daily News. Sergey Kovalev and Evan Holyfield are two of Duva's current clients; Kovalev is scheduled to fight Sullivan Barrera on DAZN in Indio, California on April 25th.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Kathy Duva herself on behalf of Sportskeeda.
When I think of boxing, I often also think of Everlast because of its long-term association with the sport. As "the next generation" of a boxing-related family, when did you first become aware of Everlast?
Kathy Duva: I was aware of Everlast long before I met my late husband and became a part of a boxing family. That logo is iconic and, as such, it has been part of the popular culture since as long as I can remember. My father was a big sports fan, so I would sometimes watch fights with him when I was young. And, of course, that Everlast logo was on everyone’s gloves.
Your husband Dan and your father-in-law Lou were both boxing notables. You, like them, are about to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame. Will that be your proudest professional accomplishment?
Kathy Duva: I think that it goes without saying that it will be my proudest professional accomplishment—one that I never even considered would ever be possible! How do you top that?!
Is it true that your daughter may one day take over the family business?
Kathy Duva: Well, I guess you will have to ask her that question! But, of course, if that is what she decides to do, I can’t think of a single person who would be better qualified. Nicole grew up with the sport, so she knows it in her bones. And she has immersed herself in all of its facets since she came to work here in 2011. I couldn’t leave the place in better hands.
I believe that you are involved with the petition for the removal of the word “female” on the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) championship belts. Where is the petition currently at?
Kathy Duva: I am not actually involved with the petition. But I would be happy to sign one and I fully support its purpose. Unless—of course—they want to start putting “Male Boxer” on all of the world title belts won by men!
What is coming up for Main Events in the near-future?
Kathy Duva: Sergey Kovalev is scheduled to fight Sullivan Barrera on DAZN in Indio, California on April 25th. We plan to put Meiirim Nursultanov on that card in a significant fight that we are still working on. Also, Enriko Gogokhia is scheduled to box that night in a step up bout. So there will be a lot of excitement for Main Events next month.
In addition, if all goes according to plan, fans will get to see Cassius Chaney, Madiyar Ashkeyev, Ismael Villareal, and LeShawn Rodriguez all take step up fights in 2020. Bakhram Murtzaliev is on track to fight for a world title by the end of the year. We are working with World Of Boxing to schedule Dmitry Bivol’s next title defense. And, of course, we will see lots more of Evan Holyfield in 2020 as join him in his journey to develop into the world-class fighter that he clearly has the talent to be.
A lot of boxers seem to be getting into MMA and professional wrestling and vice versa. How do you feel about that?
Kathy Duva: I think that fighters put so much of themselves on the line every time they step into the ring that I would not presume to tell any of them what they should or should not do. There is no doubt that occasional opportunities in MMA and professional wrestling have made it possible for a very small subset of fighters to make some very good money. So more power to them! Though we all know that wrestling is staged, it is still very dangerous—as giant athletes hurl themselves and each other through the air. If one of our boxers ever tried to do that, I would have to hold my breath until it was over!
As far as MMA is concerned, it is quite clear to me that any truly elite professional boxer in their prime has a big advantage over the very best of the fighters in MMA in a boxing match. After all, both Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey were undone by professional boxers in the two biggest MMA/boxing crossover events ever staged. So I would never discourage a professional fighter from taking on that challenge. I am interested to see what happens when one of these events takes place using MMA rules.
On the critical end, a lot of vocal people -- definitely not the majority of people -- feel that boxing is not as exciting as it once was. To you, who are some of the exciting fighters to watch and fall back in love with the sport by watching?
Kathy Duva: Those people are simply not watching the right fights! Did they see Fury-Wilder?! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Of course, I am prejudiced in favor of our fighters here at Main Events. Looking to the future, I think that just about all of our young prospects are pretty exciting to watch—always looking for the KO. And there are a lot of young fighters who are up and coming who I would never miss. There are too many to mention without leaving someone out and hurting feelings. So I’m not going there!
What is life like for you outside of boxing and running Main Events?
Kathy Duva: Now that my children have all grown up, I have a lot more time to spend taking care of myself and visiting with friends. I go to yoga as much as I can. I love to cook and travel and I visit with my many girlfriends who live around the country. When we can, we hang out at the Jersey Shore. My happy place.
Finally, Kathy, any last words for the kids?
Kathy Duva: Whenever young people—usually young girls and women—ask me for advice, I tell them all the same thing: Find something that you are passionate about. Immerse yourself in it and make it your life. And then, once you figure out what it is that you want, never take "no" for an answer!