No shade to other rappers trying to break into sports management but Jay Z is extremely serious his Roc Nation Sports.
After acquiring several notable athletes in the NBA, MLB and NFL, the burgeoning conglomerate has just acquired a boxing license to promote in New York and Washington, D.C. and added veteran David Itskowitch to its fold.
Extremely serious, indeed.
“There’s no question the sport of boxing needs a new player, someone who can do something different,” Michael Yormark, the president and chief of branding and strategy for parent company Roc Nation, told ESPN.com on Sunday night. “We’re energized, and we’re going to make a difference. This is a huge priority to us. This is a highly serious business to us.”
“This is a serious business for us moving forward, and Dave has one of the great reputations in the boxing industry,” Yormark said, adding that Jay Z and Roc Nation Sports president Juan Perez are big boxing fans. “Hiring him should be a loud and clear statement this is serious for us and that we will do this the right way. We have one of the most respected individuals in the sport leading the charge for us.
“We didn’t wake up yesterday and decide we wanted to get into the boxing business, but our first significant move was to bring Dave into the organization. This is an opportunity for us to change the game. It’s been in the works for the last six or eight months, and now we are making our move. Jay Z has an incredible passion for boxing. We want to take the platform we’ve created and bring that to the boxing industry. We want to bring more money and visibility to the sport and give the boxers opportunities outside the ring.”
From 1996 to 2000, Itskowitch, 39, of New York, worked for former HBO Sports senior vice president Lou DiBella, who was responsible for programming the network’s fights. When DiBella left HBO to found his own promotional company, Itskowitch went with him and worked as his right-hand man from 2000 to 2006.
Included amongst the Roc Nation Sports roster are reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant and big money baseballers in Robinson Cano and C.C. Sabithia.
Photo: WENN/Chris Connor