Glory Sports International (GSI), parent company of the world’s premier kickboxing league, today announced that it has completed a Series B financing led by Yao Capital, who has acquired a significant strategic stake in the company. Liberty Global – the world’s largest international cable television and broadband company – has also participated in the syndicate, plus existing GLORY shareholders Twin Focus Capital of Boston and other existing partners.
Focusing on growth stage sports & entertainment investment opportunities, Yao Capital was founded by former NBA superstar Yao Ming, veteran investor David Han, the former Chief Investment Officer of Wanda Group and former Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, and Erik Zhang, Yao Ming’s long-time business partner and Team Yao leader.
“To me, the sport of kickboxing is a synonym for courage, grit and the will to succeed,” said Yao Ming, Chairman and co-founder, Yao Capital. “As kickboxing is gaining worldwide popularity among the younger generation, Yao Capital is pleased to partner with GLORY, the world’s number one league in this field. Today, we join forces to promote the sport of kickboxing and encourage more young people to be involved in this sport to become the hero in their own life.”
Bruce Mann, Chief Programming Officer, Liberty Global added: “GLORY is a great fit for Liberty Global’s content investment strategy. We find investing in up-and-coming sports both interesting and strategic. I believe Liberty Global’s support and operational leverage in combination with the arrival of Yao Capital as an investor positions GLORY extremely well to deliver on their vision.”
GLORY will be increasing its live event presence to 18 dates in 2017, including expansion into Southeast Asia and Latin America, as well as launching reality television programming.
In addition, Yao Capital and GLORY have also agreed to commit significant capital to immediately launch a new joint venture in China, where kickboxing and stand-up fighting have a long tradition of popularity and the combat sports market is in the early stages of growth. The terms of this additional commitment were not disclosed, although GLORY expects to hold its first event in China in the near future.
Pierre Andurand, Chairman and co-founder, GLORY said: “We are delighted that Yao Capital has become a major strategic investor in GLORY. Yao Capital has a remarkable, successful team with deep experience in growing sports businesses. GLORY will benefit from their expertise and participation as we grow the league globally, and in particular in China where we see great potential and exciting fighters. Liberty Global adds unmatched knowledge and media resources to the ownership group.”
“GLORY will engage with fans more than 2 billion times in 2017 across our live events, television, and digital and social platforms; and growth is accelerating,” said Scott Rudmann, Vice-Chairman and co-founder, GLORY. “GLORY athletes are the best strikers in combat sports. Our television ratings as well as consumer engagement with our brand are increasing everywhere around the world. Fans, broadcasters, and sponsors have recognized GLORY as the ‘go-to’ property for the pinnacle of kickboxing and stand-up combat.”
GLORY maintains offices in Denver, London, Amsterdam, and Singapore. GLORY kickboxing rules are comprised of a mix of several combat disciplines including traditional Boxing, Kung Fu, Karate, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @GLORY_WS, and visit us online at glorykickboxing.com.