At 17 Australia’s Mike Altamura became a boxing manager. He was told like others before him “you will never last!” Well, 17 years later he is still going strong. “People like me aren’t supposed to last a year,” said Altamura.
This writer had the pleasure of meeting Altamura at a dinner the night before the press conference prior to his fighter Isaac “Brave-Son” Dogboe, then 18-0 (12), of Accra, Ghana, challenging and defeating WBO World Super Bantamweight champion Jesse Magdaleno, 25-0 (18), of Las Vegas, NV, on April 28th in Philadelphia. The promotion was done by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions with Arum in attendance and the conference ran by co-promoter Philadelphia’s IBHOF promoter J Russell Peltz of Peltz Boxing.
It didn’t take long before Magdaleno started in on Dogboe like a grade school bully. Then went back and forth before it was finally halted. I liked the way Dogboe conducted himself for the most part and would be quietly be rooting for him. In the first round Dogboe hit the canvas. He lost the first 3 rounds before centering in on the body of Magdaleno in the fourth round. In the fifth round it was Magdaleno’s turn to hit the canvas. He hung tough until the eleventh round when he was dropped twice being knocked out by Dogboe from a flurry of punches and counted out by referee Benjy Esteves, Jr., at 1:38 of the round. Dogboe was ahead through 10 rounds by scores of 97-91, 97-90 and 95-93.
Altamura and I seemed to hit it off quite well. I would later do a story with his help on Dogboe for Brick City Boxing. Dogboe was also a really nice individual. Altamura’s father was professional boxer in the early 60s and later to develop into a solid trainer in Victoria, Australia.
At age 11 Altamura was writing for The World of Boxing Magazine contributing amateur boxing results. “By 17 I was contributing to almost a dozen publications and numerous websites. In 2001 he would launch his own website, Fighter Network. He had a section called “Boxers Available for Fights” and would meet all types of boxers who mostly he called “absolute train wrecks!”
Altamura was getting contacted by boxers from Uganda, Panama and Guyana granting him managerial rights. On matching his first boxer while still a youth living at home he received 10% amounting to $500. Only problem is he spent $1,800.00 and the phone bill!
Altamura persevered and gives credit to Australian trainers Craig Christian and Billy Hussein along with WBO Supervisor Danny Leigh. He had done his homework which impressed both of them. “That’s when long-time US matchmaker Chris Middendorf recommended he talk to manager Cameron Dunkin. Up until then Altamura’s experience was handling Guyana’s southpaw Leon “Hurry Up” Moore, 32-3 (25), who retired in September of 2016 after his last victory.
“I’ve known Mike off and on for a long time. He’s a very smart, internationally oriented, independent matchmaker. He deserves a good story,” said Chris Middendorf.
Dunkin asked Altamura if he would go to China for the upcoming Beijing Olympics and scout the boxers. This was something Dunkin was known for doing in developing future champions of his own. Altamura’s recommendations were to sign two-time world amateur champion Russian Matt Korobov, Venezuela’s Olympic Silver Medalist Alfonso Blanco and Gold Medalist James “Chunky” DeGale of the UK. Both Dunkin and Altamura spotted Korobov. Dunkin was extremely high on him. “I was the one on the ground in Beijing working to finalize the deal,” said Altamura.
Korobov won his fist 24 fights before losing to Andy Lee for the vacant WBO World Middleweight title, in December of 2014. He would return in 2016 winning 3 straight 8 round decisions in January, June and November. He wouldn’t return until March of 2018 and won a 6 round decision and found himself ranked No. 15 in the WBC Super Middleweight rankings. At 28-1 (14), he is scheduled to fight for that title in L.A. July 28th at the Staples Center. Can you believe it?
Blanco would win the interim WBA World Middleweight title in October of 2015. It would be 14 months before defending it and he was knocked out in December of 2016 retiring from the ring with a 12-1 record.
DeGale would win the vacant IBF World Super Middleweight title in May of 2015, and lose it in December of 2017 to Caleb Truax in the UK. He regained the title in April in Las Vegas and is 24-2-1 (14).
“I am forever indebted to Paul “Showtime” Fleming, the sole Australian I inked in China, and our deal crafting a promotional agreement with powerhouse Top Rank, and his early career development sky rocketed my management services to another stratosphere in my homeland. He is 25-0 (17), and won the WBC Continental Americas Super Featherweight title in April of 2016, defeating Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 22-7-1, at Cebu City, Philippines.
“He’s (Altamura) the smartest guy I have met in boxing and a wonderful person to boot. Very enjoyable to hang out with,” said David MacWater (Split-T Management who manages close to 40 boxers)
Under MJA Entertainment Altamura has promoted two shows in Accra, Ghana, one last July, with Dogboe in the Main Event defending his WBO International Super Bantamweight title stopping Javier Nicolas Chacon, 25-3-1, of Argentina, in 6 rounds. The other in January of 2018 with Dogboe winning the interim WBO World Super Bantamweight title stopping Cesar Juarez, 20-5, of Mexico City, MEX, in 5 rounds. So you can see Altamura has played a big part in the career of Dogboe.
“There are so many beautiful memories over the years, but the standout is the night a warrior named Erin McGowan, captured the WBO World Lightweight title in Perth. She was my first world champion,” said Altamura. She won the title in 2010 but lost it in 2011. In her last fight before retiring she won the vacant Women’s IBA Lightweight title in November of 2014. She retired with a 17-2 (9), record. “Mike Altamura was the best manager you could ever ask for in boxing. He is a boxing encyclopedia with good honest advice and intentions and fantastic fair negotiating skills. Due to unforeseen circumstances and politics I lost Mike as my manager and this truly was the biggest regret of my career,” said Erin McGowan.
“There’s no 9-5, Monday to Friday work structure in fight management. Not in this business. You’re 24/7. The challenge is balancing the duty with your personal life. You may be chilling on a boat, feeding your girl grapes, when suddenly a dire situation presents itself,” said Altamura.
I know from promoting just three boxing events in the early 80’s and doing a little matchmaking for someone else how dangerous things can be at times. “I’ve never starved to death but after a shady promoter double-crossed me, had my life threatened numerous times. One thing rings true. I would do it all over again,” said Altamura.
Altamura is a former World Boxing Organization Asia pacific Manager of the Year. “Mike Altamura is one of the good guys. I’m actually writing a column on Isaac Dogboe that includes quotes from Mike. Mike’s a terrific guy. He’s a few years younger then me but we both got involved in boxing around the same time so it’s wonderful seeing the success he has had with his career in the sport. He is very highly regarded and I have never heard a single person, including his former boxers, say a bad word against him,” said Anthony Cocks. (A boxing writer and editor from Australia) He was the editor for Doghouse Boxing when this writer worked for them and did a great job.
In early January, Altamura was recruited to management powerhouse MTK Global to assist the company’s scouting and matchmaking team, and work towards their intended global expansion. His official title is “International Consultant”, although his responsibilities clearly entail much more.
“Mike is a great recruit for us as he will bring a vast amount of knowledge to MTK Global and there are certain markets that he knows better than anyone,” said MTK Global CEO Sandra Vaughan at the time.
Other boxers that Altamura has handled long-term (All Australians) are Nathaniel “Cheeky” May, 19-1 (11), Leonardo “Lenny Zappa” Zappavigna, 37-3 (27), Rohan Murdock, 22-1 (16), Luke “Action” Jackson, 16-0 (7), and Dwight “The Fighting Cowboy” Richie, 17-1 (2), all currently world rated.
KEN HISSNER: I know you have worked with Billy Dibb on and off. I see he just fought in March. Do you have something for him coming up?
MIKE ALTAMURA: I have the pleasure to tell you he’ll become he’ll be a two-division world champion when he faces Philly’s Tevin Farmer in Sydney, Australia on August the 3rd for the vacant IBF World 130 lb title.
KEN HISSNER: You have quite a few Australian boxers you are working with and all contenders. Is there anything you would like to mention about any of their future bouts?
MIKE ALTAMURA: Let see, we have all action Lenny Zappavigna fighting on ESPN June 30 on a make-or-break fight, Irish based Irishman TJ Doheny fighting for the IBF World title in Japan on August 16, World No. 9 Rohan Murdock returning in August under new promoter Paul Keegan in Queensland, the fast-handed Nathaniel May in camp at the Wild Card Gym under Ernie Zavala readying for his European debut, IBF World Youth 154lb Champ Dwight Richie headlining in Melbourne in August, really busy schedule across the board!
KEN HISSNER: They said you wouldn’t last a year but you fooled them.
MIKE ALTAMURA: (Laughs) Thank you! All for the love of the game. That’s why I refused to follow the script despite the hardships. It’s been a blessing to work in this industry all these years and have the opportunity to meet so many gifted individuals from so many diverse backgrounds.
KEN HISSNER: It was great meeting you and Isaac Dogboe. Does he have a mandatory bout in the future?
MIKE ALTAMURA: We have time for at least one voluntary defense, possibly two. Isaac wants to target unification within the year, but for now we are waiting to finalize his USA return on either August 18 or 25. Should have it closed with Top Rank within the week ahead.
KEN HISSNER: No matter who I contacted for a comment they all talked well of you. Any skeleton’s in the closet?
MIKE ALTAMURA: Gimme your Rolodex, immediately (laughs). We’re all human, and we all have our shortcomings. Luckily you haven’t met anyone defeated me at Streetfighter II to offer their insights into my temper (laughs). But in seriousness, I’d like to think I carry myself with the kind of authenticity and humility that makes my mother proud to call me her son.
KEN HISSNER: There have been some great boxers coming out of Australia. Kostaya Tszya was one of my favorites and I see his son is fighting. Jeff Fenech another one I enjoyed watching. Are there any you want to mention?
MIKE ALTAMURA: Nathaniel May is definitely one to watch, unbelievable quick hands, savvy for a youngster, tested and comes to rumble. Also, we have Murdoch, Luke Jackson, Paul Fleming closing in on major opportunities. And another to watch for the future, Darcy Ellis. He’s 3-0, son of legendary IBF World champ and my childhood idol, Lester Ellis. Love Darcy’s temperament. Sweet, intelligent kid, student of his craft.
KEN HISSNER: Thanks for taking the time to answers a couple of questions.
MIKE ALTAMURA: No Ken, thank you for your time. Your welcome to holla at me anytime.