The Buckhead Theater is a historical landmark located in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. Built-in 1930, this theater predominantly serves as a concert venue. Originally a playhouse and movie theater, the Buckhead can now add sports-venue to its resume. On September 16th, it featured boxing as its main attraction.
Corporate Fight Night 14 was the main feature inside the 91-year-old theater. The brainchild of boxing promoter Terri Moss, Corporate Fight Night is a boxing event which showcases white-collar professionals moonlighting as pugilists, at least for one night.
I asked Terri how she came up with the idea for Corporate Fight Night.
“I came up with this idea in 2010,” she said. “There was some celebrity boxing and some burners in Gleason’s Gym, but they were in the gym, not this kind of thing.”
Moss continued, “I was in New Zealand training a young fighter. I spent three weeks there. In the gym, I remember a guy walking into the gym wearing a business suit and with a whole camera crew following him. He gets on the bag, and I ask, who is that? And they say that he is there to fight in what they call ‘corporate fight night.’ I watched what they did and thought to myself, ‘hmm, maybe I can do that.' So, when I came back to the states, I did it, and I called it Corporate Fight Night too. However, I take a different approach than they do. I'm a former fighter. So, I make it more of a boxing show than they do. Our event is for charity, but it's also a boxing show.”
What makes Terri’s Corporate Fight Night different from her New Zealand counterparts’?
Terri’s event is sanctioned by USA Boxing. Therefore, fighters must get boxing passports, go to training camp, and really put in the work of a boxer. Terri's team auditions the fighters, she matches them up, and they fight in a legitimate amateur boxing match. In addition to the amateur event, Terri also pairs it up with a professional card. The proceeds of this pro-am event go towards a charitable cause. This year's charity is the Ridgeview Institute, a rehab center for people suffering from substance abuse, addiction, and mental health illness. The charity division is called Ridgeview Alumni Charitable Corporation. It raises money towards scholarships for tuition to attend their rehabilitation center.
I arrived at the theater and was met by a line of eager fans dressed more for a gala than a boxing match. The men were clad in business suits. The women wore beautiful evening gowns that would turn heads at any Hollywood red carpet event.
The theater is gorgeous, and it looked like it was plucked out of a 17th-century European city. The inside still has remnants of when it served as a movie theater, with ticket booths and concession stands refurbished into cocktail bars.
I made myself backstage, to what were once dressing rooms for actors, now houses anxious fighters anxiously waiting for their fight. I trudged my way through a sea of gauze, tape, and gloves looking for Teri Moss. I spot the former champion, and she is dressed in a sparkling black cocktail dress and high heels while wrapping the hands of one of her fighters.
She greeted me and has one of her assistants show me to my seat.
It didn't surprise me to see Terri wrapping the hands of a fighter. In addition to being a promoter, the 55-year-old native of Denver, Colorado, is the owner of Buckhead Gym. By the way, did I mention that she also trains fighters, serves as a cut closer and is a chief second?
Terri started boxing when she was 34-years-old. A friend of Terri's was going through a divorce and asked her to accompany her to a gym and take up boxing. She obliged, and three months later, the friend had quit, and Terri stayed with the sport.
The two-time world champion retired in 2007 and became a promoter after taking the advice of her first trainer.
“Hey, you are too old to box, you should be a promoter,” recounted Moss.
“I never took it to heart. I did like the shows, and I felt that it's something that maybe I would look into. And then later I tried it. It was rough in the beginning, but now I've promoted around 60-70 shows including amateur shows, international shows, golden gloves, pro shows, and of course Corporate Fight Night,” said Moss.
I asked her what sets her apart from other promoters. She responded, “I’m willing to spend money on a quality show. To me, the show takes precedence. If you feel like you're (boxing promoters) not going to make money on a show, you just can't stop and say I'm not going to spend money. There are a lot of promoters that put on real low-budget shows and make money. But I'm a boxing purist. To me, it's about the show, the presentation, and the experience the fans have. And the experience the fighters have. The fighters around here know that they are going to fight in a real show, and it's going to be a quality event.”
At CFN14, fans experienced all there is to a boxing match. There was an entire production crew that was streaming the event for the WBC. In addition, there were commentators, ring card girls, and a charismatic ring announcer who calls himself “The Voice.”
There were former and current world champions in attendance. Super Middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn was in attendance. Not only as a spectator, but she was also there to sing that National Anthem. Crews received roaring applause for her beautiful rendition of the Anthem.
Also in attendance were Brian Jordan and Jill Diamond. Brian is a former MLB and NFL athlete who was there to support the Ridgeview Institute and spoke about the importance of places like Ridgeview.
Jill Diamond is the International Secretary of the World Boxing Council and International Chair of WBC Cares. Jill presented Brian Jordan, Terri Moss, and the Ridgeview Institute with medals, recognizing their hard work and dedication in bringing awareness to substance abuse and mental health illness.
Ring Magazine reporter and podcaster Michael Montero made his boxing debut and headlined the amateur event. I recently interviewed Montero, who explained that his reason for fighting that night was to honor his late brother Anthony. Anthony passed away from an apparent drug overdose last year.
Michael fulfilled a promise to his brother in an impressive display of boxing skills for his outing. Montero dominated his opponent from the opening bell and almost knocked him out. Montero won the fight via unanimous decision. The WBC awarded him with its famous green belt adorned with a picture of Anthony.
The event was an overall success, raising over $10,000 for the Ridgeview Institute. One of the fighters, Daniel Holzberger, helped raise $12,000 for the Ridgeview Institute, making him the winner of the “Top Fundraiser Award for CFN14.” Additionally, in support of Corporate Fight Night in Atlanta and the Ridgeview Institute, boxing legend Julio Caesar Chavez donated an all-expenses-paid session at one of his two-drug treatment facilities.
This was the 14th installment of Corporate Fight Night, and the atmosphere was electric. The theater lights were dimmed, and the ring sat beautifully lit on the stage. The front rows and the balcony were packed with rowdy fans cheering for their coworkers representing their firm or business. The fighters varied from I.T. professionals to police officers. Each fighter had a reason for why they wanted to fight. For some, it was a chance to get in shape. For others, it was a chance to prove to themselves they were more than just a business executive. But, for all, it was an opportunity to fight and support a noble cause.