Kevin Rooney Jr. to fight, publicize
Promoters typically employ a publicist to help get the word out about their fighters. But how about if the promoter's publicist is also a fighter?
That is the position Kevin Rooney Jr. finds himself in as he prepares for his professional debut next month. He is the publicist for New York promoter Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing and will make his pro debut on a card he is publicizing.
I'll go in the back to the dressing room after my fight to change. I'll put my suit back on and be back working as the publicist for the show.” -- Kevin Rooney Jr.
Rooney grew up around the fight game. His father, Kevin Rooney Sr., gained worldwide fame as the trainer who guided Mike Tyson to the heavyweight championship after the death of their mentor, Cus D'Amato.
Rooney was taught how to box by his father, had a few amateur fights as a kid and a few more as an adult, making it to the quarterfinals of the New York Golden Gloves last year. But for his day job, Rooney has worked as the Star Boxing publicist for the past 2½ years.
Being that close to the fight game on daily basis fired him up to start training again to the point where he is now going to turn pro, with his famous father serving as his trainer and manager.
"I'm really excited," Rooney said. "I really enjoy the fighting. I really got back into it when I started working for Star in the summer of 2008. It really sparked my interest. I started going to the gym. I told my dad and he said take it step by step, and I've been gradually progressing."
After a limited 9-2 amateur career, Rooney believes he is ready to punch for pay. He will make his pro debut on the untelevised undercard of the April 22 ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card DeGuardia is promoting at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn.
In the main event, Delvin Rodriguez, who is moving up to junior middleweight, will face Michael Medina. Rooney, also a 154-pounder, said he will spar with Rodriguez to help him prepare for his pro debut.
Rooney's bout purposely will take place at the beginning of the show because when he is done with his own four-round bout -- against an opponent to be determined -- he will need to get back to his other job of taking care of the media covering the card.
"I'll go in the back to the dressing room after my fight to change. I'll put my suit back on and be back working as the publicist for the show," Rooney said.
Rooney said he considered remaining amateur and participating in the Golden Gloves again, but decided to make the jump to the pros.
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"I didn't want to do them this year. I don't have an amateur style," Rooney said. "As a pro, I'll fight at 154 pounds. In the amateurs I fought at 165, which was a little too big for me. One of my strengths is I do have a lot of power."
To get ready for his son's debut, Rooney's father will go to Westchester, N.Y., to train him during the week. Rooney Jr. will drive up to his father's gym in Catskill, N.Y., the same one where Tyson trained, on the weekends.
Rooney Sr., who works with a few young pros and amateurs other than his son, has had a drinking problem that has been well-chronicled. But Rooney Jr. said his father has it under control now.
"He's been completely sober now going on three years and really focused on the boxing, still in Catskill and in the same gym," he said. "Working for Star, I will try to fight on as many of their cards as I can and [matchmaker] Ron [Katz] will match me correctly. My dad's perspective is I spar with pros, so even though I don't have the experience in the amateur fights, sparring with the guys I spar with helps me."
Katz, a veteran matchmaker, likes what he has seen so far from his colleague.
"He's very green. He has improved. He's got a lot of desire. His conviction is unmatched," Katz said. "He trains like an animal. He's learning. He's done well for the short time he's done this. I have seen improvement. If he wants to fight, he'll fight."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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