If you Google “Stephen T. Crosson,” what pops up is a lot of commercial real estate-specific information. Crosson’s decades-long career includes his current role as Principal with Capright, and other prominent positions, such as chairman and CEO of Crosson Dannis Inc., and board chair/editor-in-chief of The Appraisal Journal. It says he has served as an expert witness on real estate valuation cases.
What is lacking in those results, however, is that for decades, Crosson has been involved with professional boxing. Heavily involved.
That’s why it makes sense that another of his roles is co-founder and recurrent Boxing Chairman of The Real Estate Council’s FightNight.
The annual event, now in its 30th year, is a popular charitable endeavor. Everyone who is anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth commercial real estate community attends, with proceeds going toward the TREC Foundation. This year’s event was expected to raise $26 million.
“I’ve been doing this as long as I have, because they can’t find anyone else with the strange set of skills I have,” Crosson says, with a laugh.
FightNight is a glittering affair which typically attracts around 1,500 people. However, the situation was different in 1989, when the event made its debut.
“The Dallas real estate industry was completely in the tank,” Crosson says. “We were in the worst possible recession—some would say depression—in commercial real estate. We thought we might be able to, maybe, get 300 people to attend.”
The result? “We ended up with 880 people, and a long waiting list,” Crosson says.
Crosson was an industry expert when FightNight debuted. A “fourth generation” Dallas native, Crosson attended the University of North Texas for a BBA in banking and finance, and Southern Methodist University for graduate studies in real estate.
He wanted a real estate career but didn’t see brokerage or property management as a good fit. Real estate valuation was the logical choice. As he puts it: “I have pretty good analytical skills.”
Much as the first FightNight was little like today’s event, the appraisal industry also differed from today’s highly regulated sector.
“There was really no regulation, per se,” Crosson says. “You didn’t need a license.”
That was before passage of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, which mandated specific real estate appraisal regulations.
As Crosson became an expert appraiser, he also became an expert boxing referee. Crosson’s father was an amateur boxer and, at one point, a family friend asked Crosson for help with a “little tournament in Irving.” That “little tournament” consisted of 55 fights — with young Crosson the only referee. “That was my indoctrination into the sport,” he says.
From that auspicious start, Crosson’s avocation led to roles such as World Boxing Council (WBC) referee, treasurer and spokesman, and World Boxing Council Continental Americas treasurer. He testified before a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee often on boxing safety and reform.
Although he officially retired as a referee in 1990, Crosson continues to keep his hand in the sport, with the connections he made continuing to populate TREC’s FightNight with many boxing notables. Previous celebrity guests have included George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Muhammad Ali. Marvelous Marvin Hagler attended this year’s event.
Though connecting the worlds of boxing and property appraisal might be tough, Crosson doesn’t see it that way.
“A lot of what I do in valuation is litigation support and as an expert witness,” Crosson explains. “Myself against opposing counsel. He’s trying to beat me, and I’m standing up to him.”