Lou DiBella: The Office Chess Set

By Michael Schmidt on March 6, 2012
Lou DiBella: The Office Chess Set
Lou DiBella asks where I am from and I mention Kitchener, Ontario, Canada (Robert Ecksel)

The first thing to note here at DiBella Entertainment, up near the Garden, is simply that; DiBella Entertainment and not DiBella Boxing…

New York City—Super Bowl Weekend

“Charley O’s Lunch—After Theater Dinner—Cocktail Lounge Fine Food & Drink Since 1950” is the name on the sign across the street from the Milford Plaza Hotel at 8th & 45th, and it is a place where, given the right company, one can let their mind wander. My company is a young lad we shall call “the prodigy.” His father, God bless his millions of dollars, has “the prodigy” opening an online high-end leather fashion company. “The prodigy” is a nice kid, everything he touches turns to gold, but he talks, talks, talks. My mind is drifting back to the Friday before Cotto vs. Margo number two. I had ringside tickets courtesy of the “the benefactor,” (see “Ringside with Boxing’s Biggest Expert”) hand touch behind the Cotto corner. As it turned out a friend was negotiating a fight contract for one of his boxers with DiBella Entertainment that weekend so I have him ringside and I am along for the DiBella office ride. Besides, nothing beats New York during the Christmas season. “The prodigy,” monotony of verbiage draining on, and I am tempted to tell him, DiBella-esque, to shut the fuck up but my mind is in DiBella’s office, back Christmas season.

The first thing to note here at DiBella Entertainment, up near the Garden, is simply that; DiBella Entertainment and not DiBella Boxing. Harvard Law School graduate, Wall Street lawyer, DiBella is not defined by just boxing, although you could not deny his passion for the sweet science. Entertainment indeed, including ownership in a minor league baseball franchise, and film and movie productions.  The boss is thirty minutes late and my friend is a bit fidgety. Me, I am totally relaxed. Not my show this day. The office itself could pass for a doctor’s office with an affection more so for baseball than boxing judging by the memorabilia on the walls. There is a toy box near the front desk, a small black Don King bookend (now that is a keeper) and three little dogs zipping around. The one that turns out to be Mr. DiBella’s dog, a Jack Russell guy, has taken a real liking to me. Then again he is sniffing away at the same snakeskin boots I wore yesterday while walking my coyote/shepherd dog Bronson (you have already heard all about Bronson—see “Bronson, Haye, and Tyson Fury”).

I have a bet with my buddy that the boss, Lou D., will not offer up one, not one, expletive deleted, FUCK, FUCK YOU, WHAT THE FUCK, GO FUCK, NO FUCK…Now on the other hand as Mr. Jack Russell licks my boots, since that is the only boot licking I am going to get this day, I can’t help but wonder what possesses a guy of the boss’s pedigree (Harvard lawyer….) to carry on such. On Bob Arum: “HE GIVES ME SHIT, I CALL HIM A PRICK…HE’S A FUCKING ASSHOLE…BOB, I LOVE YOU BUT GO FUCK YOURSELF.” On MMA: “Keep supporting boxing, MMA kiss my ass, we are the combat sport, we are the historical sport, we are the sport of Kings…if you still want to watch guys lie around and do leg locks on each other that’s your business.” On Max Kellerman: “Before you’re so pedantic, take a deep breath…”  On THE CHAMPION, Sergio Martinez, “Chavez Jr. is not going to fight Martinez and if they did, they should have a pine box next to the ring.” On the recent Campillo judgment (and I use that word tongue stuck hard to cheek): “This is a fucking disgrace…we wonder why we are so self-destructive as an industry. I’ve had enough of this fucking shit…Campillo should be Champion, he won that motherfucking fight.” Ranting no doubt born, partly of promotion and partly of frustration, of a business model, that of boxing overall, that would have a first year college prof probably crying in tears, a dew drop of laughter and a drew drop of incredulity. The absurdity of it all. A dew drop only, mind you, as anything more than that would suggest that the non-boxing public, the general public or sporting public for that matter, in the DiBella like language, would actually give a fuck about something so absurdly dysfunctional in the way it, boxing, does its business as a whole.

The meeting ends up going well. The DiBella team joined the meeting, the marketing, liaison, matchmaker ends, all good guys, and not one expletive deleted, not a one. My friend owes me steak over at Gallagher’s Steak House. The Boss, Lou D., makes note that boxing is at a point of interesting times from a business end, with interesting opportunities involving the changing of the guard at HBO and Showtime, with Golden Boy about to enter the Brooklyn arena and the state of boxing in general. Mr. Lou DiBella, half leaning on one elbow on a long couch mentions that boxing can and is a challenging business. I interject, “But you’re not done yet?” and he leans forward, “No, I am not done yet,” and a flame of pure energy erupts with ideas, staccato-like, on how to promote my friend’s fighter. It is at that point, like a flash, that you see why the man is so successful. We all share a laugh over a fighter they ask me about and what I think of his abilities. “No balance” is the answer. But there is balance, here, in this office. The guys around him clearly are feeding off DiBella’s energy, working as a team in sync with thoughts.

Mr. Lou DiBella asks where I am from and when I mention Kitchener, Ontario, he zeroes in. “There are a lot of good fighters that came out of there.” I respond in kind that it was and is a tough town with the likes of Syd and Fitz Vanderpool, Lennox Lewis, John Kalbhenn, Donny Lalonde and Chris Johnson all coming out of Kitchener. “Don’t forget Greg Johnson” responds Mr. DiBella. I am amazed. With all due respect to Greg Johnson, either Mr. Lou DiBella, having met me briefly in Montreal ringside at the Bute vs. Johnson fight, has been doing his homework, and putting the Schmidt ego aside I hardly, hardly think so, or he is clearly a big, big boxing student. Forget all the expletives deleted. This is the real guy and I shouldn’t be surprised but somehow I am. It’s the YouTube clips, the ranting and the raving that has thrown me off.

Shortly before we leave, Mr. Lou DiBella notices me looking at a large chess set on the coffee table in front of me. “I like to play chess,” he said. “I like to think of it in terms of boxing. I like to plan three steps ahead of everything.” I don’t respond and why would I? In my mind he has and continues to have pieces that speak success unto the DiBella Entertainment philosophy all by themselves: THE CHAMPION, SERGIO MARTINEZ, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Andre Berto, Paulie Malignaggi, Celestino Caballero, Glen Johnson and so the list goes on and on. Walk the walk, talk the talk. Say what you may but there sits the chess set and as for the King, THE CHAMPION, well, shortly he will do his thing in the Big Apple on HBO, DiBella making his next move, patiently putting the CHAMPION in place. Somebody else is playing a different set of rules as it relates to THE CHAMPION with respect to making the fight that should be, for this fan, Chavez Jr. If this was a Bobby Fischer type of engagement, he might just get up from the table and let his legend speak for itself, walking away into the night. But Lou DiBella is not Bobby Fischer and in the end result this is not chess. No, not here, with Broadway Boxing and Brooklyn and all the chess pieces. This is his neck of the woods, born and raised and Brooklyn guys are tough, well, tough fuckers. Brooklyn, back in the house. This is his neck of the woods, Boxing on a worldwide stage. Like him, don’t like him. I don’t really care. For me the chess pieces on his coffee table speak for themselves and some are in play right now, THE CHAMPION. Oh I know its DiBella Entertainment, but don’t forget, DiBella is a fan, a big boxing fan, too.

As we leave the meeting and walk down the corridor I notice a shared bathroom for the office floor. There is a key stuck in the door with a mini boxing glove attached to it. I jokingly tell my friend, “I wonder if that is there to lock some poor bastard into the boxing bathroom so he can flush himself down the drain or let him get out to enjoy the next move.” I get no response other than we are off to Gallagher’s. As for “the prodigy,” well, I have awoken from my DiBella reminisce and I can’t help myself: “Good lord lad you just keep on yakking. Why don’t you shut the fuck up and let’s talk about something else.” He responds in kind, “You know my Dad said you would be likely to say something like that at some point and that I shouldn’t care because it would be good for your soul and mine too.” Enough to make you sick. “Your Dad is full of shit and that’s why we have been doing business all these years.” The response, “Yeah, he told me you would say something like that too.” You can’t win but you kind of do. But that cussing does feel good. Good luck to THE CHAMPION at the Garden. He has stayed the course with DiBella Entertainment and that speaks volumes in itself for both sides. Three steps ahead, or hopefully, one step to go. The year is not finished, and DiBella, the focus exhibited in our brief office meeting, is a formidable force.

(The Editor realizes that some people may not condone or appreciate the language in the article herein. Anybody that has had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Schmidt, or Mr. DiBella for that matter, understands that words which may be offensive to others are a staple of their respective vocabularies.)

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  1. Mike Schmidt 07:53pm, 03/06/2012

    Yeah yeah Champ Vanderpool - we got stories on you too. By the way, who is the sexy model you are bringing to the WBA “NO to Drugs show” this weekend. Our guest of honor is Donny “Golden Boy” Lalonde so keep an eye out son!!!! Seriously, thanks for posting in and Mike and Thresh thanks. As for our fearless editor, go ffffffff… ffffff, find some typo’s!!!!!!!

  2. Fitz Vanderpool 07:02pm, 03/06/2012

    That article on Lou DiBella, the office chess set!
    I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Lou DiBella but Schmidty ...That’s another story!

  3. the thresher 07:24am, 03/06/2012

    Very enjoyable read. I wiill read it again and comment some more. Thanks, Michael.

  4. mikecasey 05:52am, 03/06/2012

    At last some sunshine! Schmidty, this was a joy. Reminded me of a glorious passage from Tom Wolfe’s ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ where he describes the priceless profanity of a bunch of precinct cops having a moan about life in general. It remains one of the funniest damn things I’ve ever read.

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