Woman manager stakes off her corner Bober guides Saiz in 8-rounder tonight

February 10, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Mention a fight manager, and you conjure up a fat guy in a gravy-stained suit, smoking a big cigar and trying to shake down a promoter for a few extra bucks.

But the manager of junior welterweight Pedro Saiz of New York, who battles George Pindell of Pasadena in an eight-rounder at Martin's West tonight, hardly fits this stereotype. She will be the one in the purple miniskirt.

"If people start talking to me," said Ruth Bober, a Brooklyn, N.Y., attorney, "then that will lead to attracting attention to my fighter."

It may be an unorthodox approach to developing a young fighter, but so far no one can argue with the results.

As a woman manager, Bober is not unique. Detroit-based Jackie Kallen, a former publicist for world champion Thomas Hearns, has gained national recognition for guiding James Toney to the middleweight crown.

But Bober's entry into the male-dominated sport of boxing was more colorful and daring.

"It came at a time when I was depressed over health and weight problems," she said. "I'd read this story in New York magazine how women were finding they could lose weight and improve their cardiovascular system by learning to box."

So Bober, then a successful real estate attorney with a prominent Manhattan firm, enrolled in a program at Gleason's gym near her Brooklyn Heights home.

"I'd always been fascinated by fighters because my father was a big boxing fan," she said. "I really got hooked on boxing watching the three Ali-Frazier fights."

But watching and doing were as different as testing a punch in a computer game and catching the real thing.

"It was weird and crazy," Bober recalled. "Here I was, a nice, Jewish girl from the suburbs, sweating and hitting a heavy bag alongside a bunch of professional fighters.

"The first day I showed up at Gleason's, Hector Rosa, who had worked with welterweight champion Buddy McGirt and heavyweight Renaldo Snipes, starts screaming and cursing me like I was one of his fighters. He called me lazy, stupid, fat and uncoordinated. But he was a teacher, too."

But Rosa and the fighters in the gym, such as middleweight contender Merqui Sosa, also learned a few things from Bober.

"Once they discovered I was a lawyer, they started asking me a lot of legal questions, especially about how to make and break contracts," Bober said. "Some of them were trying to get out of apartment leases, others had immigration problems. They all wanted advice."

She received early training in trying to negotiate a title match for Snipes with Mike Tyson.

"Don King, of course, controlled Tyson," Bober said. "He figured his matchmaker, Al Braverman, could just throw some numbers at me and I'd cave in. But they really tried to low-ball us. It was insulting."

King entered the negotiations by long distance. "It's no deal, and don't call me 'Honey,' " said Bober, slamming down the phone.

Bober has been seeking a multifight deal with one of the leading ring promoters in behalf of Saiz, but, to date, being a fight manager has proved a costly proposition.

Saiz (13-0-1, 8 KOs), 28, is a full-time fighter who has rejected the idea of taking a part-time job to defray living expenses.

Said Bober: "It costs me about $800 every time Pedro fights. I've got to pay his rent, training and gym expenses. So far, it's been a lot of withdrawals and no deposits."

She can't afford to give up her day job as an attorney, but says she is committed to making Saiz a big-time fighter.

"I've got a great trainer in Robert Lee, who was Hector Camacho's first teacher," she said. "He's really bringing Pedro along. In another year, Pedro should be fighting main events. But the real money -- the six-figure purses -- will start rolling in when he becomes a champion. We'll make him into a superstar."

Don King couldn't have said it any better.

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