MGM (MTK) Scotland promoter Sam Kynoch has big plans

James Tonks

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MGM Scotland promoter Sam Kynoch has been involved in the sport of boxing for a number of years. Beginning with his amateur years in his home city of Perth, he told

“I got into boxing aged 12 – primarily went along to the first session to get fit. I was hooked thereafter; it was definitely boxing for me.

“I had my first amateur contest a few months after training – I boxed amateur from the age of 12 until I was 19. I had around about 60 fights and I boxed internationally for Scotland a few times. In terms of what I did in my own boxing career I’m very happy with that.

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“I actually stopped boxing because I had an injury which curtailed my own ring aspirations and therefore put me into coaching at a younger age than might otherwise have been the case. I started coaching when I was 19 and also started promoting at the same age, doing white collar boxing training and running events.”

After graduating university with a law degree, Kynoch focused on a career as a corporate lawyer while maintaining a major interest in boxing. After a few years, his focus shifted to the sport:

“For a rather long period of time I was doing both in tandem – I completed my degree and started a traineeship with Scotland’s largest law firm, where I qualified into the corporate department – essentially dealing with buying-selling companies.

“It reached a point I was working relatively long hours at work and then boxing was taking up more and more of my time. And really my passion lies with boxing – I was never in love with my job as a lawyer, it became and means to an end. I was interested and stimulated at university and everything else, but it reached a point it just wasn’t doing it for me.

“I decided to take the jump and go into boxing full-time and it was really just to advance my career within boxing. Prior to leaving my legal practice I was coaching at another gym – I was in there four days a week and then I was doing the promotions on the side. After leaving work I got the groundwork started and opened up my own gym.

“Obviously I became more practised with promotions and ultimately transitioned into the professional ranks – it was really to allow myself to fully dedicate myself to boxing. But I do still tutor in law in university – I do keep my hand to it in that respect.”

He opened SK Boxing Gym and in 2015 the gym was rebranded as MGM Scotland – how did the partnership with MGM Scotland come about?

“Essentially what happened there was MGM in Marbella opened their doors in 2012 and we went over the following year. We were actually the first gym to go over there and do a training camp in the boxing world – now it’s commonplace for both professional boxers and teams to go over there, but when we went, the gym hadn’t long opened and it had no profile to relative to where it is now.

“We got on really well with the guys that kind of operated the gym over there and we kept in touch and went back for further training camps. With my training boxers and the second boxer I had – Mark Kerr – we looked at management options over here and we spoke to the guys who were there, because they moved into the professional boxing ranks, so we spoke to them and they took Mark on from a management perspective.

”While I was over there they suggested that we link up because we had a lot of similar thoughts in relation to how it worked and it how it should work. And I was obviously making the transition myself into the pro ranks so we decided to do it together and form a partnership. So basically we’re partnering in terms of I’ve got the brand on my gym and obviously my promotions are known as MGM Scotland Promotions. So that’s where things basically started out.

“Eventually I was ready to make the transition into the professional ranks, leave behind the white-collar promotions -and take it from there.

“It was something more organic as opposed to now, when obviously we have people getting in touch several times a day wanting to be involved in what we are doing, and that’s something we will look at, sort of a business transaction in that respect.

“We’ve got an established business and brand and we’ve got other sort of franchise arms of the business, but at that stage it just kind of all happened naturally. I’m glad how things have evolved and it was really good fortune that we went over there and did the training camp in Marbella.”

Speaking about his short and long-term plans for MGM Promotions Scotland, he added:

“Basically, we have had 18 months now of promoting and we have built up a lot of our boxers. We started off with a very young stable at the outset – a lot of guys who just transitioned from the amateur ranks – we had some more seasoned guys but primarily it was a case of building the boxers that we had.

“Several of them are now built up to the point where they can take on big fights. Basically what we are looking to do in Scotland is go to management services for Scottish boxers and be Scotland’s best promotional company. I believe we are well on the way to doing that if we’re not in that position now.

“Last year we promoted 12 events, this year we already have 12 scheduled and we are going to look to add to that. We are far the biggest and putting on the high-calibre fights. In the first 18 months, we’ve had two televised by BoxNation, one world title fight – Billy Joe Saunders’ last world title defence.

“I think the stats speak for themselves and I’m really happy with the stable of boxers we’ve got as well. Both the guys we’ve brought and some of the people that have come on board more recently.”

You hold special events that brought Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton and Frank Bruno to Scotland. Can you tell us a little bit about these events and who you hope to bring to Scotland in 2017?

“Basically I have been doing these for several years –having Floyd Mayweather over was magical, but my first was Evander Holyfield and it’s still special because I’d never done an event like that, so having Evander Holyfield come over from America with the whole presence he has as a multiple time heavy weight champion…”

“That was 2013 – since then I’ve done Ricky Hatton twice, Floyd Mayweather was a very good experience and Frank Bruno was an absolute delight. We are attracting boxers who justify their own night: ‘An Evening With…’ Tyson Fury was at our last event to support his good friend Billy Joe Saunders; Amir Khan was at our 1st October promotion and he’s linked to some of the Edinburgh boxers we’ve got and always supports MGM Scotland events. In some sense it’s hard because we’ve got a lot of these guys involved in our day-to-day business now with professional boxing. There are a couple of names in the office that might be one-off events like that in 2017.”

Kynoch has various job titles such as promoter, gym owner and trainer, as well as being appointed the Group Managing Director for the entire MGM brand in May 2016 – How does he manage to juggle so many different jobs?

“My primary job really is I am a family man. I have got a young family as well that’s my priority and my most important thing in my life as it is for most people. So I have got that to tie in the mixture and my work with university.

“Every day is busy; every day is a challenge in terms of things keep getting thrown up- on one hand you have to do something from a management perspective and on the other you’re wearing the promoter’s hat, or thinking about being in the gym from the training side.

“I’m moving away from the training side – we’ve got some great coaches in the MGM Scotland gym and throughout the MGM network, as well as external trainers we work with who train some of our boxers.

“Training is really the last or first thing to fall away because something has to give because I’m so busy. Second thing that would fall away is the special events as they’re secondary to the primary business.

“Day to day I’m obviously like anybody who’s self-employed – as a boxing promoter and gym owner I’m very busy and I manage to juggle it all, and I like to think I’m quite well organised because of my legal background, which I think gives me quite a good grounding.

“But I’m by no manner or means one-man band – with MGM especially, the driving force is that we’re a team – a lot of people work together and that’s how we get things moving forward. One man can’t do everything.”

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