'Let's Get Ready to Rumble' Worth $400M

Buffer: It means I own the phrase, and I have it in the, you know, a half-dozen different countries, and it's something that's with licensing. I've really parleyed into a great way to make a living outside of the ring.

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Berman: So, if I say it, look, I'm just saying it right now, 'let's get ready to rumble,' do I owe you money?

Buffer: Not necessarily, because it's in editorial use right now. You're speaking about it. If you were to make a commercial, or do a magazine ad that says 'let's get ready to rumble' to draw attention to your product, you've stolen my property.

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Berman: And then what happens?

Buffer: And then we have a great lawyer that's on retainer, that knows exactly what to do, with letters, and cease and desist, and you'll end up in court, and we have a pretty good batting average, a 1,000, because we're very aggressive, in a sense that you have to be. You can't just sit around and wait for some huge company to use your trademark. You have to always be, show that you value it and that you own it, and that you're willing to fight for it.

Berman: When you talk about this, and you talk about the trademark, and you talk about the life it's given you, you have a, you have a smile, there's a grin that comes across your face, like you're enjoying it, that you get that it's unusual, that it's given you so much. What do you make of the fact that it's given you so much?

Buffer: You know, there's a lot of luck involved in anybody's success. There's a lot of luck involved in getting married to the right woman. Luck involved in having kids that grow up and succeed or be happy. So with this phrase, obviously, a lot of luck has been there. People have been very important to Michael Buffer, and the trademark 'let's get ready to rumble.' Bob Aram with Top Rank, who helped me out, Donald Trump, back in the late '80's, put it in the contract when he had all those big fights that Michael Buffer had to be the ring announcer.

Berman: How did you come up with the voice?

Buffer: The only vocal training I had was playing with a tape recorder as a kid, and you know, doing the beginning of the Lone Ranger show, with a hearty hi-o silver, and just having fun, never really thinking I would be an announcer.

Berman: Did you insure your voice at all?

Buffer: I had had a policy with Lloyds [of London] years ago, and everything was fine, it was pretty expensive, and I figured, well, you know, we're moving along pretty well here, and I I don't think I have to spend that money anymore.

Berman: So, a year ago, you found out you had cancer.

Buffer: Throat cancer. Tonsils, behind my lymph nodes, and in the throat, two tumors.

Berman: So here you are, a guy who makes your living off of your voice, you're told you have throat cancer. What's going through you head, then?

Buffer: What goes through anybody's mind, and you know, millions of families deal with this. You think about the people you love. You become retrospective and everything. And you then realize you have to prepare for, maybe chemotherapy, disfigurement, all of the things that I was told are really a distinct possibility and surgery. I was ready to do it.

After Throat Surgery, First Voice Tryout Words Were 'Ladies and Gentlemen'

Berman: Were you scared that your career was over?

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