This weekend in Las Vegas, Thomas Gerbasi, longtime editorial director of Zuffa LLC, is being inducted into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame.
A women’s boxing columnist for Ring Magazine, a senior editor for BoxingScene.com, and a regular contributor to Boxing News Magazine, Gerbasi also published The Sweeter Science: A Look at Women’s Boxing in 2013, offering readers profiles and stories on some of the most compelling figures in the sport.
It’s a deserving honor for one of the best writers in combat sports, and someone I’m proud to call a mentor and a friend.
“Just do the work.”
That’s the text or email I’ll get from Tom whenever I’m ranting about something that has gone awry or not worked out as seamlessly as I would have hoped.
He’s got a couple of tattoos already, but “Just Do The Work” should probably be the next line he considers getting permanently etched into his skin because in addition to being his credo and the line he uses to constantly steer the focus of those he mentors in the right direction, it’s also the best summation of what he does week in and week out, month upon month, year upon year.
Nobody puts in more work than Tom.
Some may think they do, but they’re mistaken, because for all the things you see him doing publicly, there are five, six, seven other projects he’s knocked out behind the scenes that you had no idea he was responsible for putting together, because he’s never been someone to pat himself on the back and crow about his efforts on social media.
He’ll post a link to his latest piece, and then keep it moving, because there is more work to do; more stories to unearth, more interviews to conduct and transcribe, and more old school micro-cassettes to track down so can keep recording those conversations the way he has since he first got started, back when everyone was using micro-cassettes.
Then he’ll sit down, take whatever he’s been able to extract from the person on the other end of the phone, and craft the kind of story or column that you can’t put down, even if you’re not familiar with the subject matter.
I’m not a big boxing guy, but I can’t tell you how many sneak previews of upcoming stories I’ve gotten to proofread and pore through that have sent me down a Google or YouTube rabbit hole because Tom has sucked me in with the story he’s woven.
He’ll find one nugget, capture one quote, and grab your attention for a thousand words.
It doesn’t matter whether the subject is world famous or completely unknown — Tom treats them all with the same level of care and attention no matter what because as much as he’s committed to just doing the work, he also cares deeply about making sure everyones story gets told… even if he doesn’t like to admit as much very often.
But his induction in the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame is evidence of that care and those efforts to tell the stories of female boxers for nearly two decades.
Sure, women’s boxing has grabbed a hold of the spotlight in recent years with the emergence of tremendous talents like Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano, and others, but Tom was telling beautifully detailed stories about female competitors long before it was popular, and he’ll continue to do so even if that spotlight on the female side of the sport starts to dim.
Because it’s not about chasing what’s popular or putting himself over — it’s about the athletes, the coaches, the families, the stories.
It’s all about the work.
Now available digitally and on newsstands soon, the August edition of @ringmagazine with my first Ring cover story on the epic and historic @KatieTaylor vs @Serranosisters fight. 🥊🥊🥊🥊 #boxing #womensboxing #thering #katietaylor #amandaserrano pic.twitter.com/eZ3CTADX97— Thomas Gerbasi (@tgerbasi) May 30, 2022
He’s going to hate this part, but I’m writing it anyway, because it needs to be said.
You couldn’t ask for a better mentor and friend than Tom Gerbasi.
When I came to him 11 years ago, looking for a chance to contribute to the UFC website, barely a couple years into the business and still green behind the gills, he threw me a couple assignments.
In the years since then, he’s helped me refine my skills and develop my craft, offering me direction, support, criticism, the occasional much-needed lecture, innumerable one-word replies to the myriad emails I send each week with assignments attached — “Thx” and “Gracias” are his favorites — and kind words when I’ve delivered something quite good.
But the biggest thing Tom has given me is trust.
I was a snot-nosed nobody when I came to him asking for a shot all those years ago, and little by little over the last decade-plus, he’s offered me more assignments, bigger assignments, and called upon me to pinch hit for him from time-to-time.
He’s let me run with series ideas and story pitches, encouraged me to continue pushing myself to find unique angles and insights into the athletes we cover, and taught me to trust in my instincts and abilities by repeatedly showing me that he trusts me to not only do the work, but deliver at level he expects.
He likes to think that I’m doing him a favor whenever I jump on the event recaps or pick up an additional short-notice assignment when he reaches out with one, but the truth is him asking is the greatest compliment I could ask for, so saying “Yes” is easy.
Thank you for all that you’ve done for me, Tom, and congratulations on this well-deserved honor.
You’re an incredible writer and an incomparable storyteller, and these sports and their athletes are lucky to have someone like you sharing their stories.
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