On August 12, 1995, Underground Elephant’s Champion in Residence, Paul ‘The Ultimate’ Vaden, became the International Boxing Federation Junior Middleweight Champion. In a classic twelve-round bout with Vincent Pettway, Paul drew from his years of training and preparation to claim a title he’d been dreaming about since childhood. This was a crowning moment in a career that included three International Boxing Federation titles, a place in the California Boxing Hall of Fame, and one of the most impressive amateur career win-loss records in history.
After retiring from competitive boxing in 1999, Paul turned his attention to helping others achieve their goals. He channeled his championship mentality and deep knowledge of the human experience into motivational speaking, life-coaching, team-building, and corporate culture. That’s how he met our CEO, Jason Kulpa. In a recent article by the Union Tribune, their friendship was highlighted through one of the many anecdotal stories of Paul’s upstanding personal code of conduct, which underpins everything he does for himself and others. His ethos is captured in his inspirational autobiography, Answer the Bell.
Today, he brings years of experience as an athlete, community leader and strategist to his role as Champion in Residence at Underground Elephant. Paul hosts individual meetings with each of the one hundred employees for half an hour every second week, working with 15 individuals a day on a one-on-one basis. Paul also hosts Camp Vaden, an intense boxing training program that each of our departments attend for both personal fitness and collective team-building. In short, he helps us win as a company by making us champions of our own lives. To learn more about how Paul bridges the best practices of boxing, business, and personal development, I suggest you look at the Fast Company article by Jason Kulpa, The Best Career Advice I Ever Received was from a Former Boxing Champion.
Team wins, Paul stresses, should be the result of personal conditioning and shared, unified goals. “Winning the fight is just the outcome of a well-practiced team. A healthy team practices for success everyday, together. When I would win a fight, the amount of pride I would take in my team and they of me was astounding. The team won—not just me,” Paul said. “My dad was a janitor at Mercy Hospital for 23 years until the end of his life. He always reminded me that the 4th and 11th floors—his areas—were the cleanest, and he said it with pride. He was able to render service to that hospital and be proud of his contribution to its mission—to save people’s lives. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had as much pride, if not more, than the best surgeon at that hospital. Nobody is ‘just’ anything—not just a cut man, not just a janitor, not just an intern.”
In addition to mentoring the UE team, Paul works tirelessly with several local organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as JDRF, where he is the Celebrity Spokesperson for the 2015 One Walk. At the San Diego Police Department, Paul also spearheads an anti-bullying campaign that will form the basis for his sequel to Answer the Bell.
We wanted to use the anniversary of his first IBF World Title as an opportunity to acknowledge and thank him for driving inspiration here at Underground Elephant. This title was the realization of Paul’s life-long ambition, and a major milestone that led him to helping many others achieve their goals.
Whether it’s during one-on-one sessions, exchanging fistbumps with employees around the office, addressing the team during all-company meetings, or training together over at his lifelong training grounds, the Old School Boxing Center, Paul never ceases to amaze with his ability to inspire all those lucky enough to be around him.