Eddie Hearn at the Union: Success, pressure, future boxing ambitions and his new book

We spoke to boxing promoter and frequently-memed sports giant, Eddie Hearn

When announcing his visit to the Union via his Instagram this week, the comments section was littered with comments such as “Doctor of banter” and “PhD in memes”. Eddie Hearn himself conceded that his meme status may well have outstripped his success for some, saying: “Some people know me as a sports promoter, some know me as an internet meme.”

But Hearn should not just be known for his viral interviews and instantly likeable persona; his international success has led to him managing giants of boxing, such as Anthony Joshua, Josh Warrington and Katie Taylor.

His visit to the Union coincided with the release of his new book ‘Relentless: 12 Rounds To Success’, in which he discusses “discipline, passion, preparation, motivation and failure” and is advertised on Amazon as: “This book shows you what it takes to get the most in your life and career”.

Speaking to The Cambridge Tab after the event about the secret to overcoming pressure, something both he and the Cambridge student body are well familiar with, he said: “Pressure creates diamonds, right?”

Hearn and success: ‘I think you can never take yourself too seriously’

In his own particular experience, handling pressure often comes in the form of high-stakes fights, and a negative reaction from the crowds ringside. Eddie is no stranger to getting booed, and describing his response to this, he said: “I think you can never take yourself too seriously, I think that’s the key thing. Like when I get booed and stuff like that, it ain’t the best, I’d rather get cheered. My mum doesn’t like it, she gets very upset. But you just have to play the game.”

Hearn’s success in boxing, despite the occasional booing, is considerable; Matchroom Boxing, the boxing arm of his father Barry Hearn’s company Matchroom, has an exclusive televised boxing deal with Sky Sports, and is in charge of broadcasting up to 20 boxing matches a year with the channel. He was also the promoter for the match Joshua vs. Klitschko at Wembley Stadium, which had 90,000 attendees and has been dubbed one of the biggest fights in history.

Matchroom (credit: Eddie Hearn via Instagram)

Eddie Hearn has no plans to stop there, though, announcing that his ultimate career goal is to become boxing’s “sole promoter”.  He’s looking to further expand Matchroom into other spheres, too: “For me, I think the diversification of Matchroom now is looking across other areas of entertainment. like music, like content creation and documentaries and things like that, because that’s the next challenge.”

Changing perceptions: ‘Women’s boxing has probably been one of my greatest successes to be honest with you’

When reflecting on his career, he said that women’s boxing was “one of my best achievements”, and he spoke with obvious enthusiasm for women’s boxing and the role he played as a promoter of female boxers in their representation within the sport.

Speaking about Katie Taylor’s debut at Wembley Stadium in 2017, he explained: “Although I put her sort of as the main event, she wasn’t really main event. And everyone was like, you know, like fight fans…it was probably like 10 per cent [thought] ‘oh this is great’, you know, 40 per cent ‘mm not sure about this’ and 50 per cent ‘women shouldn’t be boxing’, right? And then they watched her and were like ‘blimey!’ and that 50 per cent became 40 per cent, and the fight after became 30 per cent.

A testament to Hearn and Taylor’s lasting professional relationship (Credit: Katie Taylor via Instagram)

“Women’s boxing has probably been one of my greatest successes to be honest with you. And it all stems from her, you need a trailblazer in any sport.”

Handling pressure: ‘All you can ever do is work as hard as you can, consistently’

Whilst the life of a top boxing promoter does not share many similarities with a Cambridge degree, he did have some advice for students about how to handle university pressure too: “All you can ever do is work as hard as you can, consistently. It goes back to doing the right things, if you continue to do the right things you will get success. It might come sooner than you thought, it might come later than you thought. But it will happen for you.

“Just say ‘I couldn’t have done any more’. And that’s the same with me, you know, with a show. If something goes wrong, if a show loses money, or a fight falls flat, or people boo me, I know that I’ve got to look in the mirror and say ‘I could not have done any more’, and you can live in peace like that, you know what I mean?”

Another key to managing pressure, as well as a key to being happy, according to Hearn, is to be able to put things into perspective and take a step back, to appreciate the chances that you’re given and the position you are in. He said: “What is pressure, really? Are you under pressure, really? Am I really under pressure? Yeah, I suppose so, but really?”

In line with this, he stressed the need to be able to look at the bigger picture, something he admits he’s struggled with in the past. He mentioned specifically the Joshua vs. Klitschko fight, during which he remembers being so caught up in the pressure and chaos of organising the match itself as to not appreciate the enormity of the moment.

Reflecting on this experience, he stresses the importance of putting things into “the grand scheme of things, in the world”, adding: “You know, you only turn on the TV and it might be Yemen, or it might be SARS in Nigeria. You look at it and go: actually, we’re blessed aren’t we, we have an opportunity to be whatever we want to be, and there’s no excuse for us not to work as hard as we can and to try and create the best life for ourselves and the most enjoyment that we can, and to spread positivity and happiness and so forth.

“Sometimes we have to step back, peel it back and say ‘alright, it might be pressure to us’ – and there’s pressure for everybody – let’s have faith to do the right thing consistently, enjoy yourselves, have fun, have passion with what you do, and, you know the rest is in the hands of fate, God, whatever you want it to be, and that’s all you can do.”

Eddie Hearn’s book is available from October 29th, and can be found here.

Feature image credit: Nordin Ćatić