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Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a global sports icon and arguably the greatest boxer of all time. ESPN ranked Mayweather as the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer of the past 25 years, and he’s generated over $1.67 billion in pay-per-view revenue over the course of his career.
Historically, most fighters struggle to find success after boxing. Some leave with their faculties intact; some leave with their finances intact, but rarely do fighters leave with both, and rarer still do they transfer their boxing success into success elsewhere. Mayweather proved to be an outlier with an entrepreneurial spirit early on.
In 2006, he turned down the then-biggest payday of his career and exercised a buyout provision in his Top Rank contract. Instead of making $8 million, he paid $750,000 to become a free agent. It was a shrewd business move that led to spectacular successes.
In 2007 he founded Mayweather Promotions, and the rest is history. Since then, Mayweather has earned a percentage of every poster bought, every ticket sold, every pretzel rolled, every country that purchases broadcasting rights, and every bar or restaurant that’s played his fights.
He amassed a fortune unlike any other athlete in modern history, having earned over $275 million in 2016 alone before retiring the following year. So, while many focused on the viral moment at his recent press conference, I asked Mayweather about greatness — and what it takes to be great. A topic few are as qualified to speak on as he is.
Watch below to see his response, or keep reading for a summary of his advice.
Mayweather’s responses have been condensed and edited for readability.
1. Greatness starts at home
Fathers play a critical role in child development, and their involvement — or lack thereof — has powerful, lasting effects. Mayweather attributes several factors to his success, but his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., is given special credit.
“The main person who needs the props that I need to talk about the most is my father,” Mayweather says. “He believed before I believed. He taught me a craft, and he knew I had a gift when I was a kid. My whole life I’ve been going to the boxing gym. I can remember at just three years old, going to the boxing gym every day, hitting the speed bag, hitting the heavy bag, and my dad said ‘Someday my son will be one of the best,’ and I told my dad, ‘I will be the best.'” He did just that.
His dad was happy with him just winning one world title, but Mayweather Jr. went on to win 15 world titles across five different weight divisions, never losing a fight, none of which would’ve happened had a father not believed in his son.
2. Greatness doesn’t happen alone
Greatness is not a singular result. It’s the coming together and ongoing co-existence of many disparate elements, moving together toward a singular goal.
And in the case of Mayweather, many things have had to go right for him to be as great as he is. These moving parts include but are not limited to: his strategy, marketing, advertising, accounting, investing, human resources, legal — and can’t forget — training and fighting teams.
Beyond the competence required to get these jobs done effectively, there’s the other element. Belief. You have to believe in yourself, believe in each other, abandon your ego and move as one. “I didn’t do it all myself,” Mayweather said.
“My friends around me have great ideas, and we come together as one. I keep a lot of smart people around me. I have a good team, people who believe in me, and believe in my team; we have some great ideas, come together, and push things to the limit.”
Which leads to takeaway number three.
3. Push things to the limit, and never stop believing
Despite being in his mid-forties and retired from professional boxing, Mayweather hasn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal for a second. While many boxing greats took punishment in their final fights, Mayweather’s last bout was against the biggest star in mixed martial arts history, Conor McGregor.
He walked away from the contest virtually unscathed — and hundreds of millions dollars richer. Now, at 44 years old, Mayweather will be fighting 25-year-old YouTube star Logan Paul on June 6. For context, Paul is 6’2, about 200 pound and looks as if he was carved out of stone. The YouTuber has a 4” reach advantage, 6” height advantage and a 50-pound weight advantage.
But Mayweather isn’t too concerned, because he always pushes limits and never stops believing in himself, age and other so-called advantages be damned.
“Four years ago I competed against Conor McGregor, a bigger guy, and he tested his skills” Mayweather says. “And now, we’ve got a young YouTuber — athletic, great physique — a young kid who wants to push the envelope and see what he can do against my skills. But this is something I’m used to, [going] against bigger, stronger guys. I’m not worried about it. People can shout, scream and get into it with one another. But there’s two things we know that are real with me. I kick ass for real, and I make money for real.”
And he’s right on both counts.