Good Buffer Article from the AP



Associated Press Article- December 7, 2002

By JOHN CURRAN Associated Press Writer

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Michael Buffer unbuttoned his black tuxedo
jacket, squeezed through the ropes and climbed into the ring with junior
welterweights Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward.

Trim, tan and impeccably groomed, Buffer looked down at his 3-by-5-inch
index cards and awaited his cue. After welcoming the crowd and announcing
the promoters, he began.

``Now, for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching on TV ...''
he said, gearing up.

Then came the five words that have made him famous, obscenely rich and
illegal to imitate.

Starting as a low growl, bubbling up from his diaphragm into a high-pitched
crescendo, they ricocheted off the rafters in Boardwalk Hall, sending fight
night fans into a frenzy.

``L-l-l-l-l-let's get r-r-r-eady to r-r-rum-bl-l-l-l-l-l-l-le!''

Ten rows from the ring, a balding middle-aged man with a cigar in his mouth
stood up from his seat, both fists raised in the air in jubilation. All
around him, the crowd roared.

It works every time.

And not just at boxing matches. The ``Let's-get-ready-to-rumble'' phrase,
which Buffer created to spice up prefight introductions, plays all over.

The 58-year-old Buffer uses it at bar mitzvahs and bass-fishing tournaments,
birthday parties and bull-riding matches, business gatherings and home run
derbies, building implosions and kickboxing bouts.

It's a phrase that pays: Buffer gets $2,500 to $15,000 just to utter it, and
up to $25,000 for more involved personal appearances. Ring announcing now
makes up only about 30 percent of his workload.

He's had roles in movies (``Rocky V,'' ``Ocean's Eleven'') and on television
(as himself on ``The Simpsons'').

Then there's the merchandising: the ``LGRTR'' T-shirts, key chains, hats;
the ``Ready 2 Rumble'' video games, hot sauce, action figures, talking
wrestling ring, slot machines; the Rumble Robots; the ``Let's Get Ready to
Rumble'' disco single, which hit No. 6 on the charts in Germany; and the
line of Ready to Rumble nutritional products - including sexual performance
enhancers - that will hit the market next year.

``I just wanted something that would be comparable to 'Gentlemen, start your
engines,' to get the crowd up, not realizing it would become a permanent
part of American sports folklore,'' Buffer said.

``To be completely realistic about it, you don't sit around when you're 15
and say 'Boy, if I could come up with some catch phrase ... .' It wasn't
anything I ever dreamed of, even when I first started with it.''

That was in the early 1980s, when Buffer was modeling at Philadelphia's
Strawbridge & Clothiers, among others. At 6-feet tall, with sandy brown
hair, blue eyes and a matinee idol's face, he was a natural for
advertisements for suits, slacks and other men's apparel.

One night, watching a fight on TV with his 13-year-old son, he saw the ring
announcer botch the reading of the scorecards, eliminating the suspense in
announcing the winner.

``Why don't you try that, Dad?'' his son said.

Exaggerating his credentials, Buffer sent letters out to every Atlantic City
casino, pitching them on the idea of a tuxedoed master of ceremonies serving
as ring announcer. They gave his name to boxing promoters, and he was on his

In 1983, he coined the phrase in an effort to inject some life into the
familiar prefight ring announcements.

``I tried `Man your battle stations,' 'Fasten your seat belts,' that
kind of
thing. I wanted a hook that would get a little energy back into the fight.
Ali used to say he was 'ready to rumble,' and 'Rumble, young man,
rumble.' I
took that and fine-tuned it.''

But he didn't knock anybody out with it.

``I wasn't impressed,'' said boxing promoter Bob Arum, one of the first to
hire Buffer. ``It was another trite kind of expression. He didn't put the
pizzazz into it that he does now.''

Later, Buffer slowed down his tempo and stretched the syllables to add
emphasis. Soon, he began hearing fans yell it from the crowd and seeing
newspaper headline writers use it.

But it wasn't until he hired his brother Bruce, that he really began rumbling.

In 1995, they retained a law firm and got the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office to trademark and copyright the phrase and Buffer's image.

Buffer Enterprises Inc. CEO Bruce Buffer now oversees a network of paid
tipsters, investigators and lawyers to investigate and sue anyone who
violates it.

At the start of the respective sports seasons, Buffer Enterprises Inc. sends
letters out to teams in all the major sports. It warns them not to use the
phrase without authorization and offering Michael Buffer's services -
for a

A rate list is included in the mailings, although Bruce Buffer would not
provide a copy of it for this article.

The company's Web site offers cash rewards to anyone who reports a violation
that leads to a financial settlement for the Buffers.

``I'm very litigious,'' Bruce Buffer said. ``I'm in and out of court each
month because people constantly violate our trademark rights by using it
without authorization, to promote products, do radio or TV or movies or
something as simple as playing it at a major sporting event. Although we're
happy to work with people, they must contact me for a formal license

Those who don't inevitably get hauled into court. Among those he has sued
are radio hosts Oliver North and Don Imus; New Line Cinema, for using it in
a trailer for Jackie Chan's ``Rumble in the Bronx''; Columbia Pictures, for
using it in promos for the movie ``Booty Call''; and the Baton Rouge (La.)
Kingfish, a minor league hockey team, for using it in radio commercials.

Settlements have ranged from $3,000 to $300,000, according to the Buffers'
intellectual property lawyer, Mark Kalmansohn.

``It's no different than someone using Pepsi's name to sell another cola,''
Buffer said. ``It's my business, it's what I do for a living. And you have
to protect it large and small.''

Buffer makes 75-to-150 appearances a year. One was a Wal-Mart convention in
Kansas City, Mo., where he hosted a meeting of company executives who wore
boxing gloves and robes.

And then there was the church gathering in Columbus, Ohio, where he used the
phrase for a pastor, his family, and even ``introduced'' Jesus Christ as
``your undefeated, undisputed champion of the world!''

Buffer, a multimillionaire, took home $12,000 that day.

``It was awesome,'' said Romel Moore, facilities director for Columbus
Christian Center. ``The pastor kept saying, `I know it was $12,000, but I'd
do it again.'''

Buffer refers to his specialty as ``the phrase'' or ``the words,'' and he'll
occasionally tweak them for special occasions.

- For the 1996 implosion of the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas: ``Let's get
ready to crumble!''

- For a TV commercial for a water park: ``Let's get ready to tumble!''
(before being doused with 100 gallons of water).

- For basketball games: ``Let's get ready to round-ball!''

Fans who see him in public sometimes ask him to say the phrase, but he

``Usually, I'll say, 'Do you have your checkbook?' If the guy's a
plumber, I
tell him, 'I'll say, ``Let's get ready to rumble,'' but the next time my
toilet's stuffed up, you come over and fix it for free,''' Buffer said.

Those who know him say there's more to his success than the famous words.

``It's not just the phrase,'' rival ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. said.
``He's very professional. He's got a flair for showmanship, and he's
marketed his abilities so very well.''

In recent years, Buffer's celebrity spread to Japan and Germany, where he
does boxing, kickboxing and other events.

Four years ago he married a 23-year-old ex-model he met in Germany.

Now, Alina Buffer sits ringside, powdering his nose before he goes into the
ring. He could do the makeup himself, but he doesn't want to be seen doing

There's his image, after all.

``He's really calmed down a lot since he got married,'' said Arum, the
promoter. ``Before that, the ring card girls were so busy hitting on him,
they'd forget to go in the ring, they'd have the wrong number card.''

His brother believes there's no limit to Buffer's potential.

``Andy Warhol always said you get 15 minutes of fame,'' Bruce Buffer said.
``But because of careful marketing, we're in our second hour of it.''


Black Belt
Mar 24, 2002
Reaction score
Raleigh, NC, USA
it bothers me that a church would waste $12,000 that could have been spent more responsibly in ministry.

Bill Parsons