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Boxing is a difficult (and painful) way to earn a living. Most boxers come and go and we hear stories of boxers like Joe Luis and Mike Tyson who lost it all outside the ring. There are some boxers that have managed to have a successful life outside the ring as entrepreneurs.

Oscar De La Hoya is a Mexican American who used his fists to earn a living. He had a very successful amateur boxing career that was capped with his winning an Olympic boxing gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain. His good looks and boxing exploit led to the media calling him “the Golden Boy” and the name has stuck ever since.

Oscar went on to become a successful professional boxer. The professional sports of boxing is not only about being a good boxer it’s also about having an appeal and being popular.  Oscar had this with his good looks, good boxing skills, and Hispanic background.  He has won ten world championship belts in not one but six different weight divisions.  The financial return has been tremendous, too. He is believed to have earned over $600 million in pay-per-view earnings.

In 2002, while still an active fighter, he formed Golden Boy Promotions, this was the first national boxing promotion company owned by a Hispanic. The company now has under contract an impressive stable of boxers who rake in money for the outfit.

In Oscar’s last fight on December 2008, he was badly clobbered by Philippine boxing phenomenon Manny Pacquiao forcing his corner to stop the fight at the end of the eighth round.  Oscar retired in 2009. For him there’s life after boxing being the owner of one of the top boxing promotion companies in the world.

That’s one of the best ways to describe David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA.  If you ask the average NBA player (or any NBA player for that matter), its highly unlikely that “love him” would be his feelings towards Stern. As for the owners, well there are some debates there, too.  You can’t please everybody as they say and Stern would certainly agree to that.

There were some statements attributing that Stern was one of the main reasons why the NBA lockout took so long to resolve resulting to a shorter NBA playing season.  Pardon the words chosen but was the commissioner being too — stern?  There were very delicate issues to deal with involving revenues, parity and team competitiveness.  In the end the players, negotiators, team owners, everyone else involved, and of course David Stern came through and we now have our favorite teams and players back in the coliseums and on television.

Stern’s association with the NBA goes way back to 1966 when he was the outside legal counsel.  He joined the NBA 12 years later and finally headed the organization in 1984. He’s now been the head of the NBA for over 27 years.

One must admit that the NBA has grown under his stewardship.  From 23 teams there are now 30 since he took over.  There is now more television coverage and the game is more international.  Foreign players like Yao Ming and Pau Gasol have increased its international appeal. The Women’s National Basketball Association came into being under his watch as well the NBA Development League.

The NBA is big business.  Teams are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Some teams though as of late have experienced negative earnings.

Love him or hate him; for over a quarter of a century Stern has headed an organization that turns college or high school athletes into multi-millionaires virtually overnight, provides employment to so many people, revenue to the government, and give legions of fans  great entertainment.