Rapper Jay Z is best known for his work behind the microphone, but he is also a successful entrepreneur and a boxing fan.
Roc Nation is Jay Z’s full-service entertainment company. The majority of the business is focused on the music industry, but it also contains a sub-division dedicated to sports. According to the company mission statement, “Roc Nation Sports focuses on elevating athletes’ career on a global scale both on and off the field. Roc Nation Sports conceptualizes and executes marketing and endorsement deals, community outreach, charitable tie-ins, media relations and brand strategy.”
Roc Nation Sports already has a roster of professional athletes, which it has attained quickly since its inception in April 2013. These athletes include: Robinson Cano, Skylar Diggins, Kevin Durant, Geno Smith, Victor Cruz, CC Sabathia, and Hakeem Nicks. This list of basketball, football and baseball players is soon to include professional boxers.
The boxing division of the company will be managed by longtime fight executive Dave Itskowitch. Itskowitch worked for a number of years at HBO Sports, DiBella Entertainment and Golden Boy Promotions. The agency has already obtained the necessary licenses to promote in New York and Washington.
Roc Nation Sports hopes to change the image of boxing by promoting its athletes to become recognizable faces to any sports fan, while helping the fighters to build their careers inside and outside the ring. Itskowitch has stated that they believe they can revive the popularity of boxing to the younger generation, which makes up relatively little of the current fan demographic.
The company intends to host its first fight card before the end of the year and contends that it is willing to work with any promoter, manager or television network. They have yet to sign any fighters to the promotion.
Other rappers who have tried their hand as boxing promoters include Damon Dash, James Prince and 50 Cent.