By: Kirk Jackson
Roots of Fight Sowed Connections with Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.
Roots of Fight President Jesse Katz recently spoke with Boxing Insider, providing insight to the highly anticipated bout between legendary Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. Katz also expanded on the collaboration with Triller, origins of Root of Fight, expectations for the anticipated match-up, along with his fondest memories of Tyson and Jones Jr.
The Roots of Fight connection between Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson and President of the company Jesse Katz, stems deeper than an exhibition fight taking place this past weekend. A star-studded event, featuring luminaries from several spectrums of the entertainment sphere, is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year.
“We’re pretty well respected and loved within the fight community and have very good relationships. We have a fairly decent audience, even though we’re not a Nike or Adidas, we’re pretty ubiquitous in this space and obviously have the attachment with all the icons we represent,” Katz said to Boxing Insider when speaking about how this event came together.
“We already had the relationships with the fighters where you know their approval needs to be had for everything to do with this event. So I got a call from Nakisa (Bidarian) and we’re very excited about the opportunity and to be a part of it.”
“We thought it was a very symbiotic relationship where we could have. We can add a lot of value to them with our relationships, our seeding abilities, the product capabilities and then, of course, we would get the benefit of all the connection with this incredible event and you know, just looking at these two guys look the way they do right now, I’m so excited about this fight on Saturday.”
The Vancouver-raised Katz was always a fight fan. As a youth growing up and even as he entered adulthood, Katz watched the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and many others. He coincidentally also admired the two icons featured in this past weekend’s blockbuster event between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.
“We’re a company born from Muhammad Ali,” said Katz. “We wouldn’t exist without Muhammad and Lonnie and everything they did for us. With everything they did for us, they embraced, encouraged and supported.”
“As we initially built the company, it was largely just from my personal experience; relationships I had and the people who were my heroes growing up as an athlete and a fanatical sports lover. All of the greats that we represented in the early years, were people who were the best in the world at what they did. Whether that was fighting as world champions or baseball players or football players or basketball players, they were iconic.”
What started as an idea, a clothing brand representing and paying homage to various icons of the sports world, blossomed and transcended into one of the more influential brands we see today. With the addition of apparel featuring more fighters, apparel featuring other impactful figures from the world of sports and other avenues, Root of Fight continues to add its imprint into the fabric of popular culture.
“But as we started maturing, as the political landscape changed – in particular in America, the ideals of the people we represented became ever more important,” said Katz.
“We decided to shift the company and the brand and started focusing on people who were exceptional on the field of play, but were also exceptional off the field of play and helped shape popular culture on a global scale and moved the needle to making the world a better place. So that’s really what our focus is now; shining a spotlight on them and paying respect and tribute to people who were groundbreakers, difference makers, game-changers in all aspects in what that means.”
Tyson and Jones respectively are game-changers, with their influence not only transcending sports, but other mediums of entertainment. They have inspired the lives of many across multiple generations.
“Obviously for people who know our brand, we have the history with Mike and with Roy, we’ve worked in both of them. Both of them have their own clothing ventures now. When Triller was looking to find partnerships, there’s some complexity there, and we already have worked with and have very positive working relationships and histories with each of the fighters,” said Katz.
“The executive producer of the event, Nakisa (Bidarian) is someone that I worked with years ago when he was the CFO of the UFC. And then when he moved over [to Triller] and is producing this event. He thought of who would be a good brand partner that has a very positive reputation in that space and is synonymous with boxing and the combat sports world.”
The expectations were enormous for this fight between Tyson and Jones on Saturday; albeit it was reasonable to temper projected forecasts with all things considered. However, it’s Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.; their reputations far proceed them and the memories many fans share tend to override conventional thought.
It’s fair to suggest most, if not all of the sports world was intrigued by this event. The sentiment is echoed by everyone involved.
“Coming back, the older fighters don’t usually look crisp, powerful, clean, fast. Both these guys look fantastic and I think I’m like everybody else — I just can’t wait to see what happens and what the fireworks should be.”
Katz on Memories of Tyson:
“I mean I grew up watching Mike Tyson, so I’m 49-years-old. I grew up watching Mike Tyson as a teenager and I can remember watching those fights with my father. And you know those memories are permanently etched in my brain,” said Katz.
“But then I was in University in Montreal, like probably my mid-20s for the Evander Holyfield fight, the first one, and I remember going through a kind of upscale pool hall, where they were showing it in a big open room and it was so packed. But I mean it was just absolutely chaos and that emotion everyone was so attached to Mike. And although that fight didn’t go his way, every fight was a spectacle that was built up with so much energy and so much entertainment, everything was emotionally charged. That excitement was palpable.”
Katz on Memories of Jones:
“And then with Roy Jones Jr., I have two. One, I think would begin with Vinny Pazienza. If I’m correct, he hit like a 21-punch combination and it looked like a video game, where I watched it over and over again in super slow-mo. It was like he was hitting him like he’s playing ping-pong with him. It was just so extraordinary watching that, like it was like nothing I’ve ever seen again. It’s like a video game, like The Matrix,” Katz said of Jones Jr.
“When he fought James Toney. Toney was just such a scary dude and I remember watching Roy then and just again thinking that this guy is inhuman, that what he’s doing is not real. I still think that Roy would have retired after Ruiz, then he would have been regarded as the greatest part of pound for pound ever to live. Yeah, he was just such a special. Such a special fighter man. It was just such a pleasure to watch him work, he was poetry in motion.”
As the official apparel partner for the match, Roots of Fight has created an exclusive collection of graphic apparel across five styles including sweatshirts and tees all inspired by the official promotional poster in bright colors like yellow, pink and blue. The collection draws from the designs of retro concert tees that can be worn to showcase support and excitement around the match or simply as your go-to graphic tee.
The Triller Presents Tyson vs. Jones Collection retails from $48 – $80 and is available on RootsofFight.com.
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