Eddie Hearn made Matchroom CEO Frank Smith cry, but inspired his rise to the top

As a fresh-faced 14-year-old, Frank Smith unknowingly embarked on the career of a lifetime when he landed a work-experience placement with Eddie Hearn at Matchroom.

Six months earlier Smith crossed paths with Hearn at a party, selling him £20 worth of raffle tickets before cheekily asking for more when he discovered the slick Bentley motor parked outside was in fact his.

Yet he would soon sense an even more lucrative opportunity. After the party Smith kept in touch with the Brentwood man and eventually talked himself into work experience at Matchroom – the sporting promotions company founded by Hearn's father Barry.

Roughly 14 years on from his first big break the rest really is history for Smith, who now boasts a position as director of the company and CEO of their boxing operation.

However, it's fair to say he didn't get off to a flying start.

Not long after securing a full-time job, the Romford boy arrived two hours late to work and was issued with a final warning by Hearn, who made his frustrations known in an extremely scathing letter.

"I put my neck on the line to give you this chance and your behaviour has shown a total lack of respect to me and the company," Hearn said. "Please accept this letter as a final warning."

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It was a letter that reduced Smith to tears.

"I was 16 years old and my mum was like to me, 'You've got an opportunity here so don't mess it up,'" he recalls in an exclusive interview with Daily Star Sport.

"We were away at a poker event and I was a 16-year-old, I was up having a laugh in this hotel – I thought I was on a holiday basically.

"I eventually woke up two hours late the next day. I had about 20 missed calls from Eddie and he put the letter down in front of me while I was working.

"I started crying and doing the shaking lip thing. And I've never been late since!"

To say Smith has come on leaps and bounds since that early dressing down is quite the understatement.

After years of hard work and perseverance he has climbed the Matchroom ranks to eventually become Hearn's right-hand man. In fact, many consider him the company's driving force behind the scenes from an executive point of view.

He has also been credited with producing the initial idea for Fight Camp, which saw Hearn’s Brentwood HQ transformed into an outdoor fight venue throughout August to much acclaim.

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"Eddie said if it went badly it was my idea, but if it went well it was his," Smith laughs.

"In early March when things started to get quite serious in the UK with the whole Covid situation, I said, 'How about we just build an arena in the garden?' It was more of a throwaway comment.

"And then I think it was late April, Eddie sent a voice note to our group chat on WhatsApp and said, 'We're gonna do Fight Camp in the garden, we're gonna build a venue'.

"But I'll let him have it. As long as it's a success for the business, then it's all good."

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While Smith is somewhat of an unsung hero, Hearn remains the bonafide face of the company, something that's all the more understandable given his extraordinary rise to social-media stardom over the past year.

The 41-year-old has gathered a new army of fans thanks to the popular Twitter account No Context Hearn, which has gone viral by reposting hilarious soundbites from a number of his interviews.

"When I first met him at the age of 14, he was the same person," Smith says. "He's a salesman, that's what he's best at. He loves it.

"He also loves the fact that people get so wound up with him when they watch his clips. He loves that and goes along with it.

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"The newfound fame in No Context Hearn has taken him to a new level. I go on Instagram in the morning and it's on every meme page, it's all I bloody see.

"It's taken it to a different audience of people who don't know him as a boxing promoter originally. 'Oh look, it's that guy who says the funny s*** online!'

"Really, he wants to be known for what he does in business. But ultimately it's good for the business, it's good for profile and it's working well. So long may it continue!"

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Smith, now 28, has been touted as the ideal replacement for Hearn should he ever consider hanging up his promotional gloves.

Having completed a remarkable rags-to-riches journey from tea boy all the way up to CEO, there will surely be no one more capable of filling what he accepts are extremely big boots.

"I'm not saying this because I work for him, but Eddie's the best at what he does. There's no one better out there at what he does," Smith says.

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"Every time I do a press conference or an interview I'm being compared to him, especially with public speaking and things like that. You only really get better the more you do it.

"I'm 28 so I've got a few years ahead of me. He started big in boxing probably at around 30 years old.

"I've always enjoyed my role just being in the background, because I like walking out into a venue, seeing 20,000 people and thinking, 'We did this'.

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"It's never really been about being in the public forefront for me because I think you're always under fire. And where you only learn the more you do things, all of your mistakes are out there.

"I guess it's natural progression, but I've got a lot to live up to if I'm gonna fill his boots."

Smith has dedicated his life to Matchroom since joining the company as a teenager. Last year alone he spent 280 nights in hotels whilst staging events across the UK, America and even Saudi Arabia. He admits the "travelling circus" of his profession has not impacted too well on his social life.

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As a result, Hearn has become his closest companion both inside and outside of the office. So much so that he is expected to be the best man at his wedding.

And given Smith is currently dating Emily Eubank, son of British boxing legend Chris, the speeches at that ceremony should be quite the spectacle.

"Whenever the wedding does happen, because I still need to propose as I keep getting reminded, I think it will be pay-per-view," Smith laughs.

Meeting a girlfriend's parents for the first time is a daunting situation for any young man. Let alone when their father is one of the hardest men in the country.

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Fortunately Smith was spared an awkward meet-the-parents moment with Eubank Snr, having already come across the eccentric former super-middleweight world champion through work.

Nevertheless, he still has to pluck up the courage to ask if he can marry his daughter…

"He's brilliant company," Smith says. "I was with him a couple of weeks ago and the stories he tells…

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  • "I remember the first time I met him when I wasn't with Emily. He's quite an interesting character and I was always quite nervous about it.

    "There's no set memory in my mind [of meeting him with Emily], I'd love to have a good story about it.

    "But when I ask him if I can marry his daughter, that's when I'll probably be scared."

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