In 1926, the sports editor at The Daily News pitched its founder, Captain J.M. Patterson, with an innovative promotion to reach the "Sweeneys," Patterson's mildly patronizing name for the common man. He laid out plans for a city-wide amateur boxing tournament, hosted by the News. Patterson signed off, and thus began one of the more unique and successful newspaper promotions in American history: the New York Golden Gloves.
Now in its 82nd year, the Gloves continues to flourish. Though down from the sold-out nights at The Garden during boxing's heyday, attendance and fighter enrollment have risen recently. Nearly a thousand boxers enter, whittling themselves down over four winter months to a climactic final at Madison Square Garden. And the Daily News' logo and subscription-hawking tables are there throughout every bob, weave and jab.
There's always some local boxing rumbling that the News makes a profit from the tournament. From tickets, fees, concessions and television commercials, they may indeed. Tournament director Bryan Adams clarifies that the Gloves is, above all, an expense and a local charity.
"It is strictly a community outreach program for The Daily News," says John Campi, vice president of promotions for the paper. "It doesn't make us any money. We're committed to social responsibility." Despite these protestations, with Everlast and PC Richards front and center and ringside, and added revenue from broadcasts on MSG, it's hard to imagine it not giving a little bump to ad rev and circ.
Money isn't on anyone's mind in the ring or in the stands. For most, the Golden Gloves is their Olympics. The News has smartly positioned itself as the exclusive brand provider of a quintessentially New York experience.