Madam Matchmaker—Renee“The Boxing Diva” Aiken
By George Hanson Jr., Esq - Photo by Merrick Foster
“My mommy is a very busy lady, leave a
message and she will call you back,” states eight-year-old Christion on
his mother’s answering service. The precocious young man should be
commended for his accurate and precise statement. Since the passing of
The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, the hardest working man in show
business, nobody has been as busy as Christion’s mother, 2009 Salute to
Philly Boxers Matchmaker of the Year, Renee Aiken—a fixture at almost
every boxing event on the east coast. Over the past four years Aiken has
blazed a trail throughout the boxing world working for at least fifteen
promoters in every major city in the United States. In November it was
off to Las Vegas to assist her nephew, two-division world champion, Zab
“Super” Judah with his promotional efforts. To say that her services are
in demand is an understatement because promoters of the sweet science
cannot get enough of this erudite, charming, meticulous, caring and
Every blockbuster movie needs a great casting director to ensure that the right actor is selected for the role that will allow him or her to deliver a memorable performance. Without such a person, Sir Anthony Hopkins would never have played Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Likewise, promoters require the services of a matchmaker, someone with a keen eye and knowledge of fighters’ styles and proclivities in order to ensure exciting competitive matches, at the same time forwarding the careers of the prospects and prodigies that will end up garnering enormous fortunes on pay-per-view. A matchmaker is a vital part of a boxer’s team.
It was a matchmaker who made the first mega-fight, David vs. Goliath. I am sure many believe that it was a relative of legendary matchmaker, Don Elbaum. Some are beginning to believe that it had to be one of Aiken’s female ancestors. Only a woman could have convinced David to face the giant, Goliath. Aiken’s receiving the coveted Matchmaker of the Year award substantiates this theory.
Aiken was born and raised in Queens, New York by adoptive parents, Leon and Marion, who worked for the Department of Sanitation and Queens College, respectively. She was a traditional young lady— learning to play the guitar and piano and attending dance school, never participating in sports. Her mom passed away while she was in college and Aiken returned home to take a job in a bank before passing the exam to become a Corrections Officer for the New York City Department of Corrections where she worked for twenty years before retiring in 2004.
It was while working as a corrections officer that she started going to professional boxing matches with her friend, Jacqueline Rowe, a close confidant of heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. Attending several of Tyson’s fights piqued Aiken’s interest in boxing and before she knew it, she was hooked on the art of pugilism and there was no turning back. After she retired she would pursue her passion for boxing and “like a dog at a fire hydrant, she would leave her mark.”
As fate would have it, upon turning in her badge as a Corrections Officer in 2004, she landed a job as a personal assistant for heavyweight contender, Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett, a resident of Queens. In this role she handled media requests, interviews, scheduled sparring partners, appointments, travel, and sponsorship. Aiken flourished in this role because of her tremendous organizational skills, enormous personality and attention to detail. During her tenure, Barrett would fight Hasim Rahman for the interim WBC heavyweight championship in 2005, losing a twelve-round decision.
In her aim to learn all the intricacies of media production, Aiken worked closely with Ira Glass then Producer and Director of Don King Productions and now current Vice-President of Events Broadcasting at Adversary Sports & Entertainment Company. The lessons learned from Glass have been priceless. Never one to shy away from opportunity and knowledge, Aiken assiduously logged countless hours with her sister, Katherine Hines, aka Mama Judah, in garnering sponsorship for several fighters including Katherine’s son, Zab, world champions, Ricardo Mayorga and Joel Casamayor.
Relocating to Delaware in 2006, Aiken met boxing promoter and matchmaker Nick Tiberi and the rest is history. While assisting Tiberi she fell in love with matchmaking and realized that she had found her niche. Using all of her contacts and relationships that she had made while traveling with the Tyson inner-circle and Monte Barrett she was able to have an immediate impact. Aiken is not only able to arrange competitive matches, but she also negotiates endorsements and sponsorship, handles media requests and press conferences. Her array of skills makes her a promoter’s dream because she is truly a one-stop shop.
Boxing is a tough business that is male-dominated, resistant to change and oftentimes turns black radiant hair into a field of gray quicker than Brett Favre can come out of retirement. However, Aiken’s no-nonsense and tough-as-nails demeanor has enabled her successful navigation in the sport’s shark-infested waters, while maintaining her focus and integrity. Aiken is inspired by The First Lady of Boxing, promoter and owner of The Legendary Blue Horizon, Vernoca Michael, who has been a trailblazer in paving the way for women in boxing. No surprise, it was a female sweep because Michael was voted 2009 Salute to Philly Boxers Promoter of the Year.
Aiken will be the first to tell you, “I wanted to do business a little differently—positively, professionally and honestly.” Her satisfaction comes from two combatants giving their all in a good competitive match that fans can enjoy. In doing things differently, Aiken not only ensures that boxers arrive at their shows safely and on time, but she sees to it that the same happens upon their departure. She doesn’t believe her job is complete until her fighters’ flights have landed or they have driven home and are in their beds. She is truly a caring person and fighters love to work with her. Not surprisingly, many of her projects have been the result of boxers recommending her to promoters.
When you see Renee at a boxing match, Christion is not too far behind. He’s usually in the audience shaking hands with the fighters and fans. Over the past couple of years, the ubiquitous youngster has become just as much a part of the boxing tapestry as his mother who is opening doors of opportunity for him. It is difficult to decide who has the more dominant personality—mother or child.
Aiken can be reached at [email protected] and (302) 543-3705. Don’t be surprised if you get a voice recording, “My mommy and I are two busy people…”
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!
You can contact the Mouthpiece at [email protected]