Boxing continues to be family affair for Lanes
Terry and Tommy Lane are picking up where their famous dad boxing referee and Washoe County judge Mills Lane left off.
The Lane brothers head Let’s Get it on Promotions, the company founded by Mills Lane in Reno in 1999. The elder Lane had steadily grown the business until a debilitating stroke hit in April of 2002. His sons resurrected the company in 2006 and have been promoting boxing matches and mixed martial arts contests in many states one of the company’s most notable fights was the much-hyped bout between Reno attorney Joey Gilbert and Yerington boxer Jesse Brinkley at the Reno Events Center.
Terry, 29, and Tommy, 25, figure they are the youngest boxing promoters in the history of the sport. Tommy Lane was 19 when he first held a promoter’s license from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Mills Lane still is a partner in the venture but is not active in the management of the company. He was a well-respected referee for more than three decades and presided over many of boxing’s biggest matches in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Mills Lane first used his trademarked phrase, “Let’s Get It On!” during the much-hyped Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney bout on June 11, 1982.
Mills Lane became a household name after he refereed the infamous “Bite Fight” between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, where Tyson twice bit Holyfield’s ears and subsequently was disqualified from the bout by Lane.
The younger Lanes know that filling their father’s shoes is a near-impossible task.
“I don’t feel like I have to live up to him because I never will,” Terry Lane says. “My dad was just one of those special people, one in 10 million. I am lucky to have known him, let alone be his son.
“I would be silly to even act like I would not be in this position if I did not have my dad’s name and reputation,” he adds. “We have been so careful to continue to honor that name and not compromise it as we go down the road in this business; it is very important to us.”
The cachet of being a Lane has helped the brothers make headway in an industry dominated by much older and savvier promoters. Terry Lane talks of a July day in 2009, when the brothers were invited to take part in the newly formed Boxing Promoters Association. People in the room thought they were somebody’s assistants, Terry Lane says with a laugh.
Joe DeGuardia, president of Star Boxing and the Boxing Promoters Association, says the young duo is well-liked in the tough arena of boxing promotion.
“While being the sons of Mills Lane is a credibility builder for them, they have also put on some good shows and partnered up with good co-promoters on some televised fights and fighters, including ESPN and Jesse Brinkley’s world title fight,” DeGuardia. “I certainly wish them success as they continue in boxing and try to accomplish their goals.”
The Lane brothers live dual lives in Reno and New York City both went to school in New York and maintain residences there. Since its resurrection, Let’s Get it on Promotions has promoted about 30 fights. Locally, Let’s Get it on Promotions partnered with the City of Fallon five years ago to produce the annual Rural Rumble at the Churchill County Fairgrounds on August 25.
The City of Fallon underwrites costs for the bout, Terry Lane says, but the business model for fights often depends on the venue.
For fights at casinos such as Harrah’s Reno or Grand Sierra Resort, for instance, the casino property typically pays a flat fee to the promoters and foots the bill for hotel rooms, marketing expenses and use of the venue. The property, in return, keeps all proceeds from ticket and food and beverage sales, sponsorships, and other sources of revenue.
Let’s Get it on Promotions in turn pays its fighters from its promotional fee, as well as medical and event insurance and commission fees. If the promotion company does not receive a flat fee to put together a fight card, it relies on ticket sales and sponsorship revenue to cover its expenses.
Television, however, is the straw that stirs the drink in the fight business. Bouts shown on channels such as ESPN or Fox Sports carry lucrative contracts to air the broadcast.
“That is what every promoter wants to do, get into the television money,” Terry Lane says.
Not every event is a winning proposition, Lane adds. Even if the company loses money on a fight card, it still can advance its goal of promoting and building the reputation of particular fighters.
“You roll the dice and hope to make money; if you don’t make money you still do it to build value in one or two fighters,” Terry Lane says. “If you are working with television, you are getting enough money from TV fees to make money, enough to cover your losses. But when you are moving along a fighter from prospect to contender and into TV money, a lot of things have to go right. It is very risky venture.”
Longtime journalist Steve Ranson, editor emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News — a sister publication of the NNBW — has published the 280-page book “Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to War.”