David Segura is a tech founder in Detroit. And the manager of up-and-coming welterweight Domonique Dolton.

Segura's grandfather fled the Mexican Revolution in 1917 for work on the assembly lines in Detroit--"from the state of Michoacán to the state of Michigan," he used to say. Segura's first job out of the University of Michigan was at Ford, but not on the factory floor; he had a computer science degree.

When he quit three years later, at 25, to start his own software development firm, his blue-collar dad thought he was nuts. Segura's first two customers sold hot dogs and tortillas; today, Vision IT has 850 employees worldwide, a roster of Fortune 500 clients (including Ford), and more than $100 million in revenue. "You get to a point in your career when you've had some success," says Segura, "and you're in a position to really impact someone else."

Segura spends about 20 hours a month working with Dolton--helping book fights, manage a social media presence, and choose appropriate endorsements, among them clothier Detroit Vs Everybody. So far, he's invested $35,000 in travel, training, and marketing, and he's yet to see a return. But that could change. Champions fight for seven-figure purses and sign lucrative endorsement deals, and the manager takes a cut.

"You can’t cheat the grind," Dolton says. Segura knows. Since he started hanging out with Dolton at Detroit’s legendary Kronk Gym (where icons Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns have trained) and shadowing Dolton’s brutal workouts, he’s lost 35 pounds. "It has transformed me physically," Segura says, "and got me thinking more like a fighter thinks."

Not to be overlooked, says Segura, is the "awesome cool factor" of managing a professional boxer--even one appearing on the undercard this night in Flint. Segura enlisted his staff at Vision IT to work on logos and marketing materials ("They're having a blast"), and entertained clients ringside.

Dolton, who entered the fight with a 19-1-1 record, dropped 10 pounds for the weigh-in--then put 15 back on in the hours leading up to the opening bell. Two factors beyond his control: Clark's 6'2" to 5'10" height advantage and a reach that's 10 inches longer. Dolton drew blood but couldn't deliver a knockout. One judge called it even, while the other two gave it to Clark.

"As an entrepreneur, and in boxing, you're investing in people," Segura says. And you take your knocks. "There are times when you get a setback," Segura told Dolton after the loss. "You improve, and you learn, and you come back stronger."

From the March/April 2018 issue of Inc. Magazine