When Abner Mares takes off his robe and steps into the boxing ring, fans will see the stylized "M" tattooed across his chest. The "M," of course, is for Mares, but it also represents the brand he's built.
After launching his career at the Athens Olympics, he became four-time World Champion in three different World Boxing Association (WBA) classes: Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight, and Featherweight. With 34 professional fights thus far under his belt, Abner has won 31—15 by knockout—lost two on points, and had a single draw.
But Abner Mares' story goes beyond superlative stats.
I Never Liked Boxing
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Abner grew up in Hawaiian Gardens, a tough neighborhood dominated by gangs near South Los Angeles. By the time he was 15, he was ready to join the local gang. When his parents got wind of it, however, they abruptly sent him back to live in Guadalajara.
His father decided that to stay out of trouble, Abner should become a prize fighter—and got him into a gym in Mexico. "I never liked boxing from the beginning," said Abner. "My dad pretty much forced me into it. But little by little, I started falling in love with it. By the time I went to the Olympics I was passionate about it."
The Olympics Changed Everything
Representing Mexico at the 2004 Olympics changed Abner's perspective on who he was and what he could do with his life. "I realized I could become a professional boxer," he said. "That I could win championships. And that this was a business I could make money at and live off."
Watching other fighters, he discovered that part of being a pro was to develop a unique brand and make it your own. But with his professional wins mounting (having already earned his first World Championship), Abner recognized that branding himself as a fighter had a lot more to it than just being recognizable in the ring.
Kids Want to be Me
When Abner was 14, he got into trouble and resisted arrest by a Los Angeles Sheriff's deputy, who subdued and handcuffed him—then took him home, instead of to jail. He marched the youngster inside in handcuffs and explained what happened to his mom. "I was crying and my mom was crying," said Abner. "She was devastated."
His parents sent him back to Mexico to finish high school, hoping the change of scenery would help steer him in a new direction. It did—toward boxing. Three years later, he earned a spot on Mexico's Olympic boxing team, then moved back to the U.S. to make his debut as a professional boxer.
In 2015, the deputy who had arrested Abner as a teenager invited him to become a mentor at the L.A. County Sheriff's Boxing Gym. Designed to keep kids from Abner's old neighborhood from joining gangs, the program hoped to attract up to 200 boys and girls to an after-school program where they'd learn boxing, work with tutors and share a quiet space to do their homework (mandatory for participation).
"I have a special connection with these kids," he said. "They look at me—a four-time World Champion who also grew up here—and say, 'If he can do it, so can I'—and so they can."
Although Abner donates time, funds, equipment, fight tickets and more to the Sheriff's project, he considers himself the main beneficiary of their relationship—even learning from the kids.
"They showed me that even people who don't follow boxing can care—a lot—about a fighter's branding," he said. "If people like how you smile, how you present yourself, they just might want your logo. And what that logo's on can be anything. Not just shirts, but other clothes, glasses, shoes, auto seat covers, you name it—the sky's the limit."
The LegalZoom Connection
"It all starts with the logo," said Abner. "I put a lot of time and thought into looking at all sorts of different designs. I fell in love with the 'M' design—you know, 'M' for 'Mares'—and I wanted to have it tattooed on my chest."
Since tattoos are forever, Abner realized he'd better register his stylized "M" as a trademark. His team suggested working with LegalZoom's attorney-led trademark service to make sure he could get a federal trademark for his logo. "LegalZoom made things a lot easier for our team to get the brand. It was really easy to work with them."
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