This writer has been writing for 13 years and always had a good relationship with Top Rank’s Lee Samuels and Bruce Trampler, certainly two of the best in the business. Bob Arum as head of Top Rank has kept his promotional team on top.
IRVING RUDD was one that they all seemed to look up to. I think Samuels said it best. “Irving Rudd was the greatest publicist in the history of Top Rank. He worked in our New York office and handled all the big stars for Top Rank. He was unquestionably Tommy Hearns most favorite publicist. He was the first Top Rank publicist to be enshrined into the Boxing Hall of Fame. He had a light, effective touch working with media and we learned much of his unique PR techniques when he began at TR around 1982 in Atlantic City,” said Samuels.
Rudd was one of boxing’s all-time great press agents. He began working in boxing at the Rockland Palace and then the famous Eastern Park Arena in Brooklyn, NY. From that small, hallowed fight club, he reached boxing’s summit – publicizing his fighters and his sport every step of the way.
Rudd has worked with numerous world champions, among them were Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns. So endeared was Rudd to boxing’s “Hitman” that Hearns presented Rudd with a Kronk Gym jacket and named him an honorary member of the Kronk Gym team.
Rudd also served as a press agent for three of the greatest promoters in history, Mike Jacobs, Don King and Bob Arum. Later in his career, Rudd worked exclusively as a publicist for Arum’s Top Rank, Inc.
Irving also worked as a press agent for Yonkers Raceway in New York and for the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he became one of Jackie Robinson’s confidantes. He authored a book about his career called, The Sporting Life: The Duke and Jackie, Pee Wee, Razor Phil, Ali, Mushky Jackson and Me.
Rudd was born in October of 1917 and passed away in June of 2000. He was inducted in 1999.
Top Rank’s matchmaker Bruce Trampler had this to say about his own success: “Very simply. I learned from the best my whole life”.
BRUCE TRAMPLER was born August 11, 1949 in Maplewood, NJ. Foregoing a career in journalism after graduating from Ohio University in 1971, Trampler dedicated his life to boxing. In 1968 he interviewed Billy “Dynamite” Douglas for the college paper and learned the fighter needed representation and became his manager. Eager to learn all aspects of the sport, he boxed as an amateur and worked as a trainer, promoter, ring announcer, publicist and matchmaker.
Beginning in 1971, he spent 15 months immersed in the finer points of the sweet science under the guidance of the Dundee brothers, promoter Chris and trainer Angelo in Miami Beach. He was later mentored by legendary matchmaker Teddy Brenner, who hired him as assistant matchmaker at Madison Square Garden in 1977. He left the Garden in 1979 and joined Bob Arum’s Top Rank in 1981 and has been matchmaker since.
Equipped with a keen eye for talent and the understanding how to build a fighter, he orchestrated the career of such standouts as Michael Carbajal, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Johnny Tapia, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Kelly Pavlik and many more. He was also instrumental in the comeback of heavyweight champion George Foreman. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2010.
LEE SAMUELS was born Richard Lee Samuels February 2, 1947 in Pennsville, NJ. Samuels began his career writing for local papers, including the Pennsville Progress, Pennsgrove Record and Camden-Courier Post, before being hired as a sports writer by the Philadelphia Bulletin in 1974, covering basketball, auto racing and boxing (including Ali vs Spinks I) until the paper folded in 1982.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum hired Samuels in 1983 to handle east coast publicity for his burgeoning ESPN boxing series. Four years later he handled publicity for Marvelous Marvin Hagler for his bout with Sugar Ray Leonard. Samuels left Top Rank from 1993-96 to work at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book but returned to work De La Hoya-Chavez I and was publicist there until 2017. In over three decades in the sport, he has earned a reputation for accuracy, promptness and willingness to assist. Samuels is a master at scheduling press conferences, conference calls and other related publicity events, as well as routinely producing insightful press kits packed with pertinent information.
Highly respected throughout the boxing community, he was awarded the 1996 Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award and the 2013 Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service by the BWAA. Since 2017, he has been coordinator for Top Rank. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2019.
TEDDY BRENNER made matches based on two guidelines: Would he buy a ticket and was the public interested? This standard did not always endear him to managers who wanted their fighters to go up against easy competition, but it made for hundreds of exciting fights that the fans willingly paid to see. Surviving boxing’s power struggles and unsavory influences, Brenner arranged the matches not only for greats as Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson, but also for tyros in whom he saw championship potential.
Born in New York, Brenner got his start in boxing after World War II, arranging fights in New Brunswick, New Jersey for his close friend Irving Cohen. In 1947 Brenner began his off-and-on association relationship with Madison Square Garden, working as an assistant matchmaker. When the Garden lost its booking rights in a dispute with Boxing Managers’ Guild, Brenner moved to Laurel Gardens in Newark, New Jersey as a promoter. When the International Boxing Club (IBC) took over promotion at Madison Square Garden, Brenner returned there to work as assistant matchmaker to Al Weill. Brenner booked preliminary matches at the Garden and cards at St. Nicholas Arena, also in New York. In 1950, Brenner left the IBC, alleging that Weill had ordered him to make a match for a fixed fight.
Brenner ran operations at the Coney Island Velodrome and also worked for the Long Beach Stadium in New York. In 1952, Brenner became the matchmaker for the Eastern Parkway Arena in Brooklyn, site of the Dumont television network’s broadcasts of Monday night fights. This arena became famous as the “House of Upsets” due to Brenner’s good, even matches. It was here that Brenner gave Floyd Patterson and Gene Fullmer their first national exposure. Fifty-seven of the 156 television bouts made by Brenner at Eastern Parkway were later booked by the IBC as return matches in Madison Square Garden.
By 1955, Eastern Parkway was struggling with declining television ratings, and Brenner moved to St. Nicholas Arena for four years. In 1959 with the breakup of the IBC, Brenner moved back to Madison Square Garden, where he stayed as matchmaker for fourteen years. His bookings included Muhammad Ali’s first fights in New York, the first fights in the new Madison Square Garden, the first Ali-Frazier meeting, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran’s first bout in the United States and George Foreman’s first fights. In 1973 when Harry Markson retired, Brenner assumed the presidency of Madison Square Boxing, Inc. His boss, Sonny Werblin, fired him in 1978 because Werblin wanted to do business with Don King. In 1980, Brenner joined Top Rank, Inc., where he stayed as an advisor after retiring as full-time matchmaking. He was born in 1918 and died January 7, 2000. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 1993.
BOB ARUM the former Justice Department lawyer has been one of the sport’s top promoters since he entered the business more than four decades ago. His first contact with boxing came in 1962 when he was assigned to secure the proceeds from the Sonny Liston vs Floyd Patterson I fight.
A few years after leaving government work he entered boxing full-time. He formed Top Rank, Inc. and has been a major force in the sport ever since. The first of the more than 400 world championship fights he promoted was Muhammad Ali vs George Chuvalo in 1966. Arum went on to promote 27 fights headlined by Ali, 20 with Marvelous Marvin Hagler, 14 with George Foreman, 10 with Alexis Arguello, 7 with “Sugar” Ray Leonard and all of Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya’s bouts through 2004.
Arum has also promoted fights featuring “Smokin” Joe Frazier, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, Alexis Arguello, Carlos “Escopeta” Monzon, Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns, Julio Cesar “J.C.” Chavez, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Iran “The Blade” Barkley, James “Lights Out” Toney, Erik “El Terrible” Morales, Miguel “Junito” Cotto and Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. There are very few marquee champions who have never fought under the Top Rank banner.
In 1980 he launched the Top Rank Boxing series on ESPN and it became one of the highest rated regular shows during its run. He has also promoted shows with deals with such outlets as HBO, SHOWTIME, ABC, NBC, CBS and Telefutura.
Top Rank’s past roster has included pound-for-pound king Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao and standouts Jorge Acre, Ivan “Iron Boy” Calderon, Julio Cesar “JC Jr” Chavez, Jr., Joshua “Grand Master” Clottey, Juan “Juanma” Manuel Lopez, Antonio “El Tornado de Tijuana” Margarito and Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik.
In 2010, Arum promoted the first bout at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas that saw over 50,000 fans in attendance for Pacquiao vs Clottey. Arum was born December 8, 1931 and inducted into the IBHOF in 1999.
Top Rank currently has a contract with ESPN as their exclusive provider / their big stars now are champions Terrence “Bud” Crawford, Vasily “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, Tyson Fury, Jose “Negro” Ramirez, Oscar Valdez, Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt, Shakur “Fearless” Stevenson, Jerwin “Pretty Boy”Ancajas, Jose “Merciless” Benavidez, Jr., Mikaela Mayer, Michael Conlan, Arturo Beterbiev, and Ryota Murata plus many more champions, contenders and rising stars.