Yao Capital, a private equity firm founded by former basketball star Yao Ming, has acquired a significant stake in Glory Sports International, which operates the Glory kickboxing series.
The value or size of the shareholding has not been disclosed, but the deal has been announced as Glory attempts to establish a foothold in Asia.
The former Houston Rockets ace, who also performed for the China national team during a stellar career, recently became a member of the NBA basketball league’s Hall of Fame and owns Chinese team, the Shanghai Sharks.
“As kickboxing is gaining worldwide popularity among the younger generation, Yao Capital is pleased to partner with Glory, the world’s No.1 league in this field,” Yao (pictured) said. “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.”
Yao Capital was established earlier this year, with David Han, the former chief executive of Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group and managing director of the Carlyle Group, also involved. Glory has held 36 events since it was established in 2012 but will be increasing its number of live events to 18 dates in 2017, including expansion into Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Liberty Global also participated in the Series B funding round, along with existing Glory shareholder Twin Focus Capital.
Bruce Mann, chief programming officer of 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.”