Kickboxing’s new premier league announced two big signings today - but they weren’t for the ring.
GLORY has taken on former WWE executive vice-president Andrew Whitaker as global CEO of Glory Sports International, its parent company. It was also announced today that Ivan Farneti had left venture-capital fund Doughty Hanson to take a role as an executive director with GLORY.
The two signings add to the already significant firepower that the GLORY boardroom boasts; chairman Pierre Andurand is one of the world’s most successful oil traders while managing director Marcus Luer has made his fortune in sports marketing across Asia.
“We are excited that Andrew has agreed to assume the leadership mantel at GLORY in the pivotal role of CEO, on the front lines of our fast-growing organization,” said Andurand today.
“Andrew’s breadth of global experience in the media space is a tremendous asset to GLORY’s day-to-day business. Andrew joining as CEO is an important milestone in the development of GLORY as a company and kickboxing as a sport.
“We've had an incredible first year – we have over 40 of the world’s top kickboxing athletes signed to us exclusively, we've staged four amazing events, achieved TV distribution in 200 countries and trended No. 1 globally on Twitter on New Year’s Eve 2012 – GLORY and kickboxing are for real.
“As we start a new season in 2013, we have a calendar of over 10 events on 3 continents, an active global standard for athlete rankings, and we are rolling out a successful global format for kickboxing tournaments with our Grand Slams, Slams and Road to GLORY events. In addition, we are fully committed to entering the US market, and we are delighted Andrew has joined GLORY to oversee all this growth.”
Whitaker will be spearheading the opening of a new GLORY office in the tri-state region of the United States.
"I am looking forward to taking a hands-on approach to driving the growth of what I have believed, for months, is an incredible combat sports entertainment product with tremendous global appeal,” said Whitaker, who previously served on the GLORY Sports International Board of Directors as Non-Executive Director.
“Our kickboxing rules distinguish our sport by requiring elite athleticism, skill, and honor, from GLORY kickboxers, and produce some of the most exciting knockouts ever seen in combat sports. Our martial artists define the word ‘warrior,’, and our superb level of production makes our live events one of the most fan-friendly entertainment experiences in the world.
GLORY has already redefined the standard for kickboxing, and has all the elements necessary to become a major player in the global sports industry,” continued Whitaker.
“I look forward to working with Andrew again and continuing our successful partnership which began over 10 years ago while he was with WWE. Together, we ushered the wrestling brand into Asia,” said Luer. “GLORY is truly a global product now, which operates on a 24/7 basis with events and offices across three different continents – the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Prior to joining GLORY Sports International, Whitaker was the Managing Partner of Kings Highway Media, a global brand and media distribution advisory that serves sports and entertainment IP rightsholders, private equity and venture capital.
Whitaker also served as the Executive Vice President of International for NYSE-listed WWE Inc. where he was responsible for establishing and growing the leading professional wrestling entertainment company’s business via sales, marketing, promotion and public and government relations across television, digital media, live events, licensing and PPV/VOD.
The next stop for GLORY’s championship series, home to the world’s greatest kickboxers, will be Excel Arena in London, England, where a stacked fight card, headlined by a heavyweight showdown between superstar Tyrone Spong (68-6-1 42 KO’s) and decorated, all-time great Remy “The Flying Gentleman” Bonjasky (77-15, 40 KO’s), will take place on Saturday, March 23.
Farneti has been a partner at Doughty Hanson for thirteen years. A keen kickboxing and combat sports fan, he has been lured into the hard-hitting world of GLORY and brings a very agile mind to the company’s engine room.