Fans get ready! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing “THE DIVA!”, matchmaking and promoter extraordinaire Renee Aiken. Her Diva-Rize-N Promotions presents an event on Saturday October 8 at DC Star Nightclub in Washington, DC to support breast cancer awareness. Featured on the card are Thomas “KO” Snow and former cruiserweight Champion O’Neil “Supernova” Bell. The Diva talked about her career, spiritual fortitude, and the big event on Saturday night. Here’s what she had to say:
Chip Mitchell: DIVA!!!! Thanks for granting us this interview today.
Renee Aiken: Yes sir! Okaaaaay, I’m happy to do it.
Chip Mitchell: That makes two of us. Okay Diva, let’s get right to it. Tell the millions of fans reading this interview online about your event coming up on Saturday night.
Renee Aiken: We have an action packed, sold out card at the DC Star in NE Washington, DC on Queens Chapel Road. We are featuring Thomas KO Snow and he will be fighting Rasool Shakoor. We have the Supernova O’Neil Bell, former cruiserweight champion. I have Jessie Nicklow who is fighting Frank Armstrong. We also have Henry “Sugar Poo” Buchanan on the card, as well as some up and coming up and coming fighters out of the New Jersey, DC, MD, and VA area.
Chip Mitchell: I think this is a solid event, not only with the quality of boxers involved but also because it brings about consciousness concerning a disease all too familiar to some of us. What motivated you to contribute to this cause?
Renee Aiken: Well what happened was Capital Punishment show was scheduled on August 27th. If you remember, the end of August the east coast experienced one day of earthquakes. We experience hurricanes. Then my show was pushed to a postponement. I decided to run a couple of weeks later into October. I am launching a line of gloves out of Fuel Gear. Fuel Gear is the parent company and I have a line called The Diva Line. We designed this line to get female fighters a little more action when it comes to gear and stuff like that. But I wanted to design a glove that not only females could wear, but the guys. So the color I chose was a black glove and in that black glove, the thumb and my logo were a plum color. When we got the prototype back, the glove was like a mild pink. They weren’t getting that metallic look I was looking for. So we talked about it and we were like okay let’s send it back and we’re gonna get it going and we’re trying to get this pink right. Then I was like God is telling me something here. Because the earthquakes happened then the hurricanes happened and then I went into October and from October my glove color didn’t come back right. So the pink was like kinda there and I was like you know what- I have a few girlfriends who have suffered from this disease and not only that- there are several fights as well who have had someone- I’d say two out of every four people have been hit by this disease. So my thing was The Diva needs to do something special for this show and we need to bring DC out to do a giveback to the Cancer Research Foundation or the Susan B. Coleman who does the race for the cure. I intend to raffle off some gloves and have a box for people to give a donation. I just really, really wanted to make it special. I mean I listened to the signs and God was telling me that I needed to do something. I played on it and that’s where it left me.
Chip Mitchell: You mentioned God sent you a message. How has your spirituality played a part in your career in the boxing arena?
Renee Aiken: I would say that it has kept me calm. You know this business is a real, real….. I don’t wanna be stereotypical and say that it’s a man’s world or a man’s line of work. I feel that anybody that sets there mind to do whatever can conquer. I feel that God has opened up many doors for me. Just because He’s opened up many doors for me it’s allowed me to not focus on the negative, so to speak, and try to do something positive. When I set out to do this, it was something positive. I wanted to make a difference as a female in this business. I wanted to be the one that people say “Wow, she never stops”. I believe I’m getting that accomplished.
Chip Mitchell: Speaking of never stopping, I went to boxrec.com which is kind of the official way to track boxer’s records and events. I typed your name in. I was shocked to see two pages of boxing data under your name. I mean boxing-card-after-boxing-card-after-boxing-card. How do you do it?
Renee Aiken: I think that in this business, your reputation means a lot. It follows you wherever you go whether you a fighter, trainer, manager, or whatever. So the idea of doing good business and the idea of respecting, you see a lot of people in general in this business it’s about the money for them. For me it’s about success. If I’m successful, the money will come. So I try to keep that vision and try to keep mentality. I have a son, Christian and everybody in this business pretty much knows him. He’s got a long way to go. I open every door that I possibly can but I’m a mother and a parent. When these kids come to fight- they are somebody’s child. You have to think that is someone taking the ultimate, ultimate chance with his life. You have to treat them in that manner. This is a business. Any of my fighters will tell you, when they go home they get phone calls. Did you get home safe? I want them to go back the same way that they came here. It’s the caring and understanding that we’re dealing with human beings and not pieces of meat that I try to project. I come to the table with a lot more as matchmaking. I didn’t start off in this business as a matchmaker; I started off in this business as Monet Barrett’s personal assistant. So when everybody was jumping on the ring trying to get on TV, I was networking with IBF. I was getting to know judges and referees. I was marketing myself and when you do that you build relationships. It’s about relationships and for me it was important to make a difference and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
Chip Mitchell: Wow. That’s deep. What would you consider a successful promotion?
Renee Aiken: In today’s world so to speak, the norm is ticket-sellers and paid bouts. They didn’t do that years ago. A promoter saw a fighter, wanted to move him, he got a fan base and sales came from having a fan base. It’s NOT like that today! It’s a different world. To me a successful event- everybody wants to make money in this business make money in this business- which hopefully they will. I think a successful event is when you have a good card and you at least break even. You put on an event and you definitely want to make money. It doesn’t always happen because this is a different era now. Definitely a different era. A successful event to me is a great card. When it comes down the finances and all of that, it’s a little different. I did a show in DC and the media people looked at the card. A guy told me that he the cards and said they were gonna be some shit fights. That’s exactly what he said to me. He said ‘you have to know the fighters and YOU know these fighters. This was a great card’. That is success to me. Like these guys with a 2-10 record or 5-6. That doesn’t mean they can’t fight. The difference between me and most promoters is that you’ll see Renee in NC. You’ll see Renee in OH. I’ll go wherever it takes to learn the fighters and research them. Most matchmakers stay in their own territory. Not only is my database gonna be more, but I’ll have a bigger network and I’ll know the fighters. So when I take a 2-7 and put him in a 10-0 and they bang it out toe-to-toe, that’s because I know that fighter is 2-7 might have lost in a guy’s home town or he got bad decisions. It’s doesn’t necessarily me he doesn’t. You gotta know the fighter.
Chip Mitchell: You touched on my next question but I’ll ask it anyway. How difficult is it to be a matchmaker? Let me give you an example. I went to a card a few years back and every fight ended in a first round knockout. For some fans, it was a great night. From a matchmaking perspective however, you want fights to be more competitive. Is it hard to put a recipe for competitive fights that have plenty of action and aren’t too boring?
Renee Aiken: Yeah, it goes back to my previous answer. You HAVE to know the fighters in order for the matches to be competitive. It goes without question. That’s where all of that comes from. Knowing the fighters.
Chip Mitchell: For the fans out there reading this interview, please give us your website address and contact information for tickets for Saturday’s event.
Renee Aiken: Contact information, if they don’t want to go on website, they can surely call me. My cell is 302-543-3705. My website is Diva-Rize-N.com. You can go on to the website throughout Saturday. They can surely call me and we’ll make it happen.
Chip Mitchell: I did visit your site and I have to ask. Will the gloves be available for fans to purchase? They look good.
Renee Aiken: Not at the show, but we are taking orders. They will be able to purchase them this month. It will be on my website as well as Fuel Gear shortly as well.
Chip Mitchell: Diva, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. In closing is there anything you’d like to tell the multitude of fans out there reading this interview?
Renee Aiken: I’d just really want to say come out and see the show. I’m trying to keep boxing going in the DCV area either monthly or every other month. I need the fans’ support. Like I said I’ve really been blessed and I want to make a difference. Without the support of the fans I can’t do that, so we need the fans to come out and support the show. I thank the ones who have been supportive and I thank everyone for that.