With professional teams in all four major in Charlotte, Bellonora “Bell” McCallum considers the Queen City a major sports town.McCallum says her World of Champions boxing promotion company can find its niche among Charlotte’s sports, revitalizing a sport that has lost national appeal in recent years.On Jan. 19, World of Champions will host a Fight Night at Amos’ Southend. The card of 10 professional fights and two or three amateur bouts will start at 7 p.m.Among the more intriguing boxers competing will be Larry “The Legend” Donald, a former World Boxing Organization and North American Boxing Organization heavyweight champion. During his 14-year career from 1993-2007, Donald, now 46, fought former popular champs Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Tim Witherspoon.Also scheduled is Mark Weinman, a 50-year-old from New York City who is attempting a comeback as a light middleweight. Known as “The Hebrew Hammer,” Weinman enjoyed success in the 1980s, winning his first 11 professional fights before losing his next three and retiring.Most prizefighters probably wish they could climb through their weight class’ rankings as quickly as McCallum has risen in boxing promotions. In her first year, which started last February, McCallum has hosted four professional boxing events, all in the vicinity of uptown Charlotte.Before becoming a promoter, McCallum laced up the gloves herself, training at the Charlotte Boxing Academy at the Revolution Sports Academy in 2011. She took lessons purely as a form of physical fitness and never had competitive aspirations.But during her training, McCallum said, she became more interested in boxing’s business side. Working out under the direction of the Charlotte Boxing Academy’s legendary amateur coach Al Simpson, McCallum was able to study the pulse of local boxing.During the year she spent at the CBA, McCallum also researched how professional shows were coordinated. Already possessing a law degree and a masters in business administration, McCallum jumped through the proper hoops to get herself certified to host an event.Those hoops included paying $450 for a promoter’s license with the North Carolina Boxing Authority, which operates through the state Department of Public Safety.McCallum then had to find venues.“I thought this was a sports city,” McCallum said. “So we could make boxing a huge thing. Not everyone can go to Vegas. But if you’re already in Charlotte, you could put your money down on a show.”The first World of Champions event was at the Metrolina Expo in February, where it drew 150 spectators, according to McCallum. Three other shows – in June, August and October, all at ReelWorks Studios at the NC Music Factory – each pulled in about 300 fans, she said.With the exception of the first event, McCallum, a native of Rockingham, has performed her own matchmaking. Family members and friends help her with the World of Champions operations, which include renting a ring and ringside chairs and scheduling referees and judges.McCallum said her shows would benefit by having more Charlotte-based fighters, but says it hasn’t always been easy to find the right opponents for them.Simpson assists McCallum by consulting and scheduling the amateur bouts, usually with fighters from the CBA. He recommends finding a smaller venue, like the Sugaw Creek Recreation Center, which he uses for his Golden Gloves competitions.McCallum says the 14,000-square-foot Amos’ Southend venue, known for its music concerts, can accommodate 1,000 fans.Owner John Ellison says Amos’ has never hosted boxing before but that he is receiving positive feedback from his patrons.“I hope it goes well and that we can do a boxing event every other month,” said Ellison.
Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013
Promoter pushing pro boxing in Charlotte
Fight Night scheduled for Jan. 19
Bellonora “Bell” McCallum says her World of Champions boxing promotion company can find its niche among Charlotte’s other sports. COURTESY OF BELLONORA MCCALLUM