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Yao Ming, Liberty Global Invest in Kickboxing’s Glory Sports

Yao Capital, the investment arm of Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, and cable TV giant Liberty Global have led a round of investment into Glory Sports International, organizer of kickboxing events.

The B series round also saw the involvement of Twin Focus Capital of Boston and previous investors in Glory.

The proceeds will help Glory expand its live event presence to 18 dates in 2017, including expansion into Southeast Asia and Latin America, as well as launching reality television programming.
Yao Capital and Glory have also committed to financing a new joint venture in China, where kickboxing and stand-up fighting have a long tradition of popularity, but where the combat sports market is in the early stages of growth. Glory is understood to have made a previous unsuccessful attempt to break into the Chinese market. The terms of the additional commitment were not disclosed.

Founded in 2012, Glory claims to be market leader in live kickboxing events and television programming. It has held 36 events in more than 12 countries and is broadcast in 200 territories. It also maintains a roster of some 130 athletes, spanning seven weight classes – six men’s divisions and one women’s division. It has offices in Denver, London, Amsterdam, and Singapore.

Established in January this year, Yao Capital is a $300 million (RMB 2 billion) private equity firm founded by Yao and veteran investor David Han, the former chief investment officer of Wanda Group and former MD of The Carlyle Group. It focuses on growth and buy-out stage investment opportunities in sports and entertainment in China as well as overseas.

“To me, the sport of kickboxing is a synonym for courage, grit and the will to succeed,” said Yao, chairman and co-founder of Yao Capital. “Kickboxing is gaining worldwide popularity among the younger generation… 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.”

“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,” said Bruce Mann, chief programming officer, Liberty Global. Liberty recently announced a multi-billion dollar deal to acquire Formula One, the high powered motor racing format.

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