Bam Rogers: Leading up to her next big fight, Philly’s youngest female boxing promoter gets personal

Brittany Ann Michelle Rogers, known in the Philly boxing scene simply as Bam Rogers, became the youngest woman in the nation to become a licensed boxing promoter at the ripe age of 22 in 2011. But Bam’s life had revolved around the sport for quite some time prior to that. Before getting into fight promotion, She hung up her gloves in 2011 at her “home”, Front Street Gym in Kensington, where she had trained with household name, Sonny McCord.

Bam stands ringside /Megan Matuzak

But to be precise, Bam’s obsession with boxing began much earlier.

“One night, I was complaining because the Flyers were in the playoffs but there was a big fight on that night and my dad was out of town,” Bam recalled. “My mom was like, we have to watch the fight for Daddy, I have to call him with the results. It was a Mike Tyson fight. He ended up knocking down his opponent, surprise, surprise.”

From that moment on, Bam was hooked. “I wanted to know everything,” she said.

Her roots in boxing stem from her father, Michael Rogers, though, she didn’t discover his history with the sport until she was in her late teens. Michael, an amateur boxer, almost went pro at one point. He first started fighting when he was nine, but retired after he turned 18 to concentrate on being a father. This was around 1983.

Bam was born in 1988. When her persistent interest in boxing was a household topic of discussion, her father brought home books and many, many old copies of The Ring, a boxing magazine which has been in print since 1922. “He would bring me home stuff on Joe Frazier, or Sugar Ray Leonard or Ray Robinson,” Bam explained. “I always knew he was a fighter because we had a heavy bag in the basement, but he never talked about it. Eventually I pulled it out of ‘em that he almost turned pro at one point.”

It was around this time that Bam, who was splitting time between her parent’s home in Wissinoming and her grandmother’s in Mayfair, decided to attend Bucks County Community College. In the process she fell in with a rough crowd in the Frankford area. Most of her time was spent between two jobs and school, but the rest of her time, and money, went towards a group of friends who saw an opportunity to take advantage of Bam. As a 19 year old, her parents noticed.

She was swiftly put on lockdown — no phone, no car. After a few months passed, Bam managed to turn her life around. “[My father] was like look, I’m going to take you somewhere and I just want to see how you react to it,” Bam said. “He took me to the Front Street Gym, which was the same gym he was in for his whole boxing career.”

“We started going three or four times a week,” Bam said. “When he saw that I loved it and I wanted to go there all the time and was spending all of my time there — I was training there at the time — he started telling me, ‘Okay, you can go.’”

After about two years at Bucks County Community College, Bam transferred to Temple University to pursue a degree in Sports and Recreation. The major requires a large amount of volunteer hours. Bam decided to put her hours in at The Blue Horizon, a historic fighting venue directly to the south of Temple at Broad and Master Streets.

She began helping out there her junior year and did whatever needed to get done — whether that was setting up chairs, filing paperwork or laying table cloths. According to Bam, Don Elbam, the match-maker at Blue Horizon, quickly took her under his wing. “It kind of just evolved from there,” Bam said. “I’ve been addicted to it ever since.”

For her senior internship, Bam landed a spot at Peltz Boxing. Russell Peltz, the owner of the fight promotion company, is now in his 47th year of promoting boxing. He’s promoted in the ballpark of 600 to 700 fights. Peltz sees a little bit of himself in Bam.

“She wound up promoting her first show on the very same date as my first show,” Peltz recalled. “Her show was on September 30th, 2011. My first was September 30th, 1969. And that’s kinda cool.”

Temple University is another place where Peltz and Bam intersect, being their mutual alma mater. However, they first crossed paths on a popular online boxing forum called Bam, a very active user on the site, grabbed Peltz’s attention on a frequent, if not overbearing, basis. Her confidence may explain Bam’s level of comfort when they actually met at the Veterans Clubhouse in 2010.

When Peltz met Bam in person at the clubhouse, he had some choice words. He joked, “So it was you writing all those nasty things about me!”

Within her time at Peltz Boxing so far, Bam has put on two promotions independently as BAM! Boxing Promotions and has consulted on boxing events nationwide. One notable fight she consulted on was the Sergey Kovalev/Andre Ward fight in Las Vegas that was broadcast on HBO Pay-per-view this past November.

“She’s going to have a huge future in boxing,” Peltz said. “Everyone loves her, she puts on a good appearance, she’s very enthusiastic… very smart… I know she’s had offers from other people — even ones she doesn’t know that I know of.”

After her internship with Peltz, Bam was quickly elevated to office manager, handling the bookkeeping, scheduling and day-to-day minutiae. It went from Bam asking to telling. It shifted to a more concrete partnership. “It’s gotten to the point where I lean on her too,” Peltz explained. “More so now than ever before.”

In many ways, Bam views Peltz as a valuable mentor. “The way I look at it, this man [Peltz] has been in the business for 47 years,” Bam explained. “He’s had world champions, he’s had tough fighters, he’s had it all. He’s interacted with the best promoters on a regular basis and has good relationships with them. Why am I going to go out and try to build something brand new on my own when instead, I can stay partnered with him and soak up as much as I can?”

Bam’s last fight, which she co-promoted with Peltz Boxing, DiBella Entertainment and Joe Hand Promotions was at the 2300 Arena in South Philly in December 2, 2016. Featherweights Tevin “American Idol” Farmer (Philadelphia, 24 wins and 4 losses) and Dardan Zanunaj (Kosovo, 13 wins and 3 losses) headlined the ticket, but Bam was keeping a close eye on Isaiah Wise, one of the most recent fighters to come under the Peltz Boxing fold.

Isaiah Wise and Bam Rogers at Strength Academy /Megan Matuzak

Wise was 3-0 with 2 KO’s leading into the December fight. Bam speaks highly of him. Wise is a new contender in the super-welterweight class and is the ideal client. But when you meet Wise in person, he exudes one of the most humble personalities you could possibly find in boxing. He is a single parent and a trainer at Strength Gym at Schmidts Commons in Northern Liberties. Wise manages to juggle all of this in addition to his own fighting career. Bam didn’t overlook Wise, and he’s not shy to show his appreciation for her work.

“Even after my last fight which I suffered my first lost, she was the first person I saw. She came over to me and told me not to worry about it and took care of everything,” Wise told Spirit News. “In this kind of environment, you don’t have those kinds of heartwarming experiences. You are expecting cold shoulders, you know?”

Promoters all connect with their clients in unique ways. In this regard, Bam handles her client’s in a very hands-on and compassionate manner. “First it was, “wow oh wow, she’s a woman!” Which is awesome, you don’t see so many faces like that,” Wise said.

“Man or woman, I think [Bam] is perfect for it,” he added. “I think people should look at boxing the way she does.”

Bam has, in many ways, opened Peltz’s eyes to the possibilities of women becoming more involved in boxing. “I told her, ‘If you were a man when I first met you, I wouldn’t have looked twice,’” Peltz said. “I’ve gotten to the point where I believe if I had the choice between hiring a man or a woman, I would hire a woman every time. They are more enthusiastic than the guys are.”

It might be surprising to some for a woman to commit to a traditionally male-oriented field. The card girls between rounds is an ever present reminder of what has until recently been women’s only place in the professional fighting world.

The boxing community is about respect. This is even more apparent in the City of Brotherly Love. Bam admits that she has been unprepared for the challenges of earning that respect as a woman in boxing. For her, it’s been a teeter totter between her age and her gender when it has come to people not giving her the respect she has earned.

“There are definitely times that I’m in a situation and people really believe that I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Bam said. “They’re finally not using my age. I’m 27 now and I bet that makes me whatever, a chore, but people are finally not looking at me as a kid.”

As each fight comes together, Bam works alongside Peltz on the matchmaking and business side of things. She is also on call for tickets and posters for the fighters. At most fights, Bam is constantly running from the stage to the box office, the green room and back again. If she’s lucky, she see’s a few minutes of each fight. It’s exhausting work in and outside of the arena, but Bam never gives away any hint that she’s feeling it.

“You see the old school style in the ways she makes matches and in the way she gets the fighters together,” Wise said. “She looks for honesty and those who can commit to their word. But she’s new school because she posts on Instagram and Facebook religiously. Most people have someone on the outside doing it, but she does it herself.”

After all the hard work and backing from Wise, Joe Hand and Peltz, situations that could be much simpler can still be affected by her gender.

“I know people that tell me ‘Ah, I wouldn’t have done business with you if you were a man’ and other people, ‘You know I didn’t want to do business with you off the bat because you’re a woman,’” Bam recalled. “That means if you wouldn’t have done this with me if I was a man, that means you were only doing business with me for the wrong agenda in the first place.”

Despite all of the factors that align with the inherent sexism of the boxing world, not a single person has a bad thing to say about her, according to Bam, Peltz and Wise. To put it simply, Bam is good at what she does.