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Former Athlete Moved to Rwanda to Launch a Sports Apparel Business

Allen Simms is the founder of Impano Sports, a company that provides African inspired quality sports apparel designed specifically for athletes, runners, and the active lifestyle community.

Before the big move, Allen was an award-winning athlete at the University of Southern California and a coach at Cornell University.

In this interview, we discussed why he decided to move to Rwanda and what it has been like living and operating a business in East Africa.

We also discussed the sports academy he started to identify and coach young talented athletes to elite level.

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Tony O. Lawson

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Black Female Fishing Team Earns Historic Win In First Tournament

The Ebony Anglers, a Black female fishing team, took first place in the King Mackerel division of Carteret Community College Foundation’s Spanish Mackerel & Dolphin Tournament in Morehead City on the weekend of July 17-18.

The competitive women’s fishing team, established and based in the Triangle area, reeled in a 48 lb. King Mackerel, earning them a coveted citation from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The award recognizes anglers for their outstanding recreational catches of fish most commonly caught in North Carolina.

The Ebony Anglers (l-r) Bobbiette Palmer, Gia Peebles, Tiana Davis, 48-lb King Mackerel, Glenda Turner, Lesleigh Mausi, and their boat driver at the tournament’s weigh-in.

The Ebony Anglers is a team of five professional Black women who embrace the sport of competitive fishing while balancing family, motherhood, and business. The team’s inception was the idea of Durham, NC salon owner and proprietor Gia Peebles when she and her husband witnessed the annual Big Rock Fishing Tournament in Beaufort, NC this past June.

“When I saw women of all ages coming from their fishing boats with fish and winning prizes, I noticed that there were no women of color competing,” says Peebles. “I said to myself, ‘We can do this. I already know accomplished women who are leaders and know how to win in other aspects of their lives. We can do this.’”

The women she had in mind, all of which are business owners from the Triangle area, were educator and festival owner Lesleigh Mausi, nail tech entrepreneur Glenda Turner, digital marketing specialist & editorial model Bobbiette Palmer, and Gourmet Catering Company owner Tiana Davis. Each woman accepted the call, and the Ebony Anglers was born.

Black Female Fishing Team
Holding the 48-lb King Mackerel are (l-r) Peebles, Mausi, tournament official, Palmer, and Turner.

In addition to embracing the sport of fishing, the Ebony Anglers honor a deep commitment to youth and cultural engagement through their annual mentoring and leadership programs. Black Girls Fish (BGF) and Black Boys Boat (BBB) are two educational initiatives of the Ebony Anglers.

The mission of both educational programs is to share with (and develop in) young girls and boys an appreciation and agility for fishing (and boating) as an outdoor sporting lifestyle; to educate youth in the fundamentals of fishing (and boating), both as a sport and as a lifestyle; and to empower youth with life skills that promote self-sufficiency, physical and intellectual fortitude, and sound leadership values.

The Ebony Anglers will now move on to compete in qualifying events throughout 2021, leading up to their ultimate goal: to compete in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament in June 2021.


Source: Spectacular Mag

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LeBron James, Maverick Carter Raise $100M To Build a Media Empire

LeBron James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter have reportedly launched a new venture to expand their media empire.

The pair raised $100 million to start the SpringHill Co., a conglomerate that aims to produce content from usually marginalized voices, Bloomberg Businessweek reported Thursday.

“When we talk about storytelling, we want to be able to hit home, to hit a lot of homes where they feel like they can be a part of that story,” James told the magazine. “And they feel like, Oh, you know what? I can relate to that.”

lebron james

With James as chairman and Carter as CEO, the firm combines the duo’s SpringHill Entertainment and Uninterrupted LLC, which have birthed entertainment projects such as a forthcoming “Space Jam” sequel and an HBO talk show, with a marketing agency called the Robot Co., according to Businessweek.

SpringHill was reportedly formed on the same day in March that the NBA suspended its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the ensuing lockdowns haven’t hampered the company’s early days — Carter recently inked a TV deal with Disney and has a basketball-themed Netflix film in the works, Businessweek reported.

James and Carter reportedly attended the same high school that James left to join the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. The pair worked together on “The Decision,” a live broadcast of James’ 2010 announcement that he was leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat, Businessweek reported. They went on to start SpringHill Entertainment, which shares its name with the Akron, Ohio, apartment complex where James grew up.

lebron james

The pair’s new company is backed by a slate of investors including Guggenheim Partners, UC Investments, SC Holdings and News Corp. heir Elisabeth Murdoch, with a board that includes tennis legend Serena Williams, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and LiveNation CEO Michael Rapino, Businessweek’s lengthy profile says. (News Corp. owns The Post.)

“This is ultimately a company that’s about point of view, the community you serve, and empowerment,” investment banker Paul Wachter, who helped facilitate the project and also sits on the board, told Businessweek. “This is a company designed to move the culture.”


Source: NY Post

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Over 50 years later, Legends Inducted into Olympic Hall of Fame

Nearly 51 years after the organization expelled Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the Summer Olympics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is bestowing its highest honor on two of the sports world’s most iconic activists.

Olympic Hall of Fame
1968 Summer Olympics: (L-R) Australia Peter Norman (silver), USA Tommie Smith (gold), and USA John Carlos (bronze) on medal stand during Men’s 200M medal presentation at Estadio Olimpico. Smith and Carlos wearing black gloves and raising fist for racial equality in USA. Black Power salute. CREDIT: Neil Leifer

The sprinters highlight the USOPC Hall of Fame’s latest induction class and will be formally honored at a ceremony Nov. 1 in Colorado Springs, the organization announced Monday.

Olympic Hall of Fame
John Carlos and Tommie Smith Credit: TONY AVELAR/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

The organization’s hall of fame was established in 1979. It has been dormant for stretches; this year marks the first induction class since 2012 and the 16th overall.

Smith and Carlos were responsible for one of the most recognizable moments in Olympic history, raising their fists in protest on the medal podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics. They have previously been bestowed with a long list of honors, including induction to the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Their exclusion from the USOPC’s hall highlighted the thorny relationship the organization has had with the sprinters for decades. At the 1968 Games in Mexico City, the USOPC — which was known as the U.S. Olympic Committee until changing its name this year — succumbed to pressure and sent the men home following their protest.

“One could be forgiven for rolling their eyes at the USOC finally — after 51 years — catching up with the rest of the world,” Dave Zirin, the sports columnist for the Nation who co-wrote Carlos’s autobiography, wrote in an email Monday.

U.S. Olympic officials were aware well ahead of time that a group of athletes had been considering a boycott of the 1968 Summer Games altogether. Among other things, the protesting athletes wanted more black coaches; South Africa and Rhodesia to be excluded from the Olympics; and the removal of Avery Brundage, the president of the International Olympic Committee who was accused of racism and anti-Semitism, from power.

Doug Roby, head of the USOC at the time, wrote Brundage a letter two months before the Mexico City Games commenced, saying, “We intend to have every athlete thoroughly understand that we will countenance no nonsense and that anyone that participates or that attempts to participate in any demonstration as referred to will be immediately suspended as a member of our team and returned to his home at the earliest possible date.”

In Mexico, Smith broke the world record in the 200 meters and Carlos finished in third. On the medal podium, each man raised a fist and bowed his head. They wore black gloves and no shoes, drawing attention to oppression, poverty and pride.

That sparked a swirl of activity from Olympic officials. The USOC initially decided against a suspension, intending to issue a warning to the rest of the American athletes competing in Mexico. The International Olympic Committee demanded a stronger response, fearing “that racial dissension might spread to other delegations if USOC refused to suspend Smith and Carlos,” according to a dispatch sent from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at the time.

The IOC met twice the next day. According to that organization’s minutes, the group felt “something had to be done as this incident could not be ignored.” The IOC’s feelings were shared with the USOC, which held its own executive committee meeting.

The USOC sent out a statement to reporters expressing its “profound regrets to the International Olympic Committee, to the Mexican Organizing Committee and to the people of Mexico for the discourtesy displayed by two members of its team.” At a news conference, Roby “emphasized USOC action taken under pressure from IOC,” Paul wrote.

Roby died in 1992. If he had regrets, he kept them to himself. In letters that are now stored in the University of Michigan archives, he defended the decision and said feedback he received ran as much as 10 to 1 in support of the USOC’s response.

“The Olympic Games is not a place for demonstrations of any type,” he wrote in response to one letter-writer. “If we had let the incident regarding Tommie Smith and John Carlos pass without some sort of action being taken, we might have had some demonstrations of the Czechs against the Soviets, Israel against the Arab countries, South Korea against North Korea, or Cuba against the United States, to mention but a few, and our ceremonies would have been a farce.”

Smith and Carlos felt ostracized from the Olympic community for years but have increasingly been heralded as iconic activists and accomplished athletes. In 2016, they were invited to visit the White House and President Barack Obama, along with that year’s U.S. Summer Olympics team.

“Carlos and Smith have been proven correct by history,” Zirin wrote. “They were correct that South Africa and Rhodesia should not be allowed into the Olympics. They were correct that Avery Brundage was a racist who had no business heading the IOC. They were correct that the injustices of 1968 demanded a visceral and visual response. This is a case of the USOC finally acknowledging the nose on its face.”

Source: Washington Post


Meet the Black Woman who owns the only Pro Women’s sports team in St. Louis

There are very few women owned sports teams. There are even less sports teams owned by a young Black woman. Khalia Collier, owner and general manager of the St. Louis Surge, is doing her part to change that.

What inspired your decision to own a sports franchise?

 The opportunity to create something in my city I know I never had the opportunity to experience as a kid. To show and prove that a women’s franchise is not only viable but sustainable in the market. I have been able to do by taking a different approach by how we recruit, market and build our fan base.
Black Woman

What is the most rewarding and most challenging thing about owing basketball team?

 The most rewarding by far is seeing the look on kids faces when they experience a game and see what’s possible, not just by seeing players on the court but by seeing black leadership especially strong women pursuing their dreams on and off the court.
To build a brand from scratch takes a lot of hard work and just pure determination and to see your hard work pay off each season is one of the best feelings in the world, winning championships is just the cherry on top.
The most challenging think about owning a basketball team is constantly educating and validating the product to gain the earned exposure and sponsorship needed to grow the franchise.
Fighting an uphill battle can be exhausted and sometimes it is incredibly frustrating to convince big brands and media to not just focus on what is perceived to be mainstream, but then I smile and say that is my job, the job that I love!
Once we get you in the stands or expose to the Surge brand we have now earned yet another fan that understands what we are building beyond just the game.
Black Woman

What do you feel your responsibility is as a woman the male-dominated world of sports team ownership?

 My responsibility as a woman is to create more opportunities for women that look like me not just providing a platform for professional athletes but leadership and front office positions. Once the door is open it is my responsibility to leave it open for all of the incredible women willing and prepared to work hard to achieve their dreams.

Where do you see the team in 5 years?

 By 2024 we will have been growing for over a decade as an established brand, entertainment attraction in the city, but more importantly, we will have grown our community of fans exponentially who are committed to positive energy.
Going from location, to national to global impacting women’s sports in such a way it is hard to not take notice and want to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (Instagram @thebusyafrican)

What Happened To All The Black Jockeys?

Justify won the Triple Crown on Saturday, making him only the 13th horse since 1919 to win the Triple Crown (and only the second since 1978). And for one day, horse racing might have been the biggest horse story in America. But after this past weekend, the attention of sports fans will quickly move on to other sports. So perhaps while attention lingers on horse racing, this is a good time to briefly review some history in the sport.

Jimmy Winkfield

Once upon a time, horse racing was huge. In fact, in the latter part of the 19th century, horse racing was likely the biggest sport in America. And after the horses (of course), the sports stars were the jockeys.

Isaac Burns Murphy was one of these early stars. Murphy won the Kentucky Derby in 1884, 1890 and 1891 — the first jockey to win this race three times. Murphy’s success led to a yearly salary between $15,000 and $20,000, or nearly $1 million in today’s dollars.

Isaac Burns Murphy

Joe Drape, author of “Black Maestro,” told CNN: “Murphy was the first millionaire black athlete. He even had a white valet.”

Murphy was not the only African-American jockey in that era. In fact, African-American jockeys at this time were quite common. Economists Michael Leeds and Hugh Rockoff recently explored this time in a working academic paper. Their paper — “Jim Crow in the Saddle: The Expulsion of African American Jockeys from American Racing” — begins by noting that in 1875, of the 15 horses in the Kentucky Derby, 13 were ridden by African-Americans.

Across the next quarter-century, Leeds and Rockoff noted, African-Americans continued to play a prominent role in horse racing. From 1875 to 1902, African-Americans rode 15 Kentucky Derby winners, with Jimmy Winkfield riding the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby in both 1901 and 1902. But Winkfield remains the last African-American to win this race.

Katherine Mooney noted that from 1921 to 2000, no black jockeys rode a horse in the Kentucky Derby. In addition, a few years ago, Sheena McKenzie of CNN noted that of the 750 members of the national Jockey’s Guild, only 30 — or 4% — were black.

What led to the disappearance of the African-American jockey?

Leeds and Rockoff argue that the high pay of stars like Murphy led more and more white jockeys to enter the field.

We find that African-American jockeys were displaced when the reward was higher. This had echoes about 75 years later, when women who coached women’s sports in American colleges were displaced by men after the passage of Title IX made coaching women’s sports more prestigious and lucrative.

How did white jockeys take away the jobs from African-Americans? Leeds and Rockoff state:

Beginning in about 1900 … white jockeys began a concerted and successful effort to force African American jockeys out of racing. Their method was violence. African-American jockeys were boxed out, run into the rail, hit with riding crops, and so on. Soon after the attack on the African-American jockeys began, they could not get rides. Owners, at the very least, gave their tacit consent to the expulsion of the African-American jockeys. It was another example of the wave of racism that engulfed America at the end of the 19th century and ended in Jim Crow.

In the end, the story of the African-American jockey is essentially the opposite of the story we often hear when we think about race and sports in America.

Cheryl White became the first black female jockey. She was also the first woman at a major track to win five throroughbred races.

As Olivia Waxman observed: In many sports, the professional athletes who broke through the boundaries placed around them for being African-American — like Jackie Robinson or Jesse Owens — have remained famous figures of American history decades after their physical feats first made headlines. But when it comes to horse racing, the story has been somewhat reversed.

Today, jockeys tend to be from rural areas in Latin America. But when horse racing was king in the late 19th century, many of the top athletes were African-Americans. In essence, it was these jockeys who were the first dominant African-American athletes in United States history. And it is a sad legacy of Jim Crow that these athletes were forced out of competition and likely forgotten by most sports fans today.


Source: Forbes


LaVar Ball Launches Pro League For High School Grads

LaVar Ball announced today that he’s launching a basketball league for nationally ranked players who have graduated from high school but don’t want to go to college.

Ball said his Junior Basketball Association — which he said is fully funded by his Big Baller Brand — plans to pay the lowest-ranked player a salary of $3,000 a month and the best player $10,000 a month. Ball is looking for 80 players to fill 10 teams that will seek to play at NBA arenas in Los Angeles, Dallas, Brooklyn and Atlanta.

“Getting these players is going to be easy,” Ball told ESPN. “This is giving guys a chance to get a jump start on their career, to be seen by pro scouts, and we’re going to pay them because someone has to pay these kids.”

Ball said the rules of his league will follow those of the NBA instead of college — 12-minute quarters and a pro 3-point line.

Ball said he was partly motivated by the comments made earlier in the month by NCAA president Mark Emmert, who was asked at a SportsBusiness Journal conference whether Ball was good or bad for the college game.

“Is this about someone being part of a university and playing basketball or any other sport with that school’s jersey on, representing that institution, or is it about preparing me for my career, my professional career as a ballplayer?” Emmert responded, just a few days after Ball’s son LiAngelo left UCLA to turn pro before even playing for the school.

LaVar Ball

“If it’s the latter, you can do that inside a university and that might be a really good way to go. But if you don’t want to and you don’t think that it’s right for your family, then don’t come.”

“He was right,” Ball said. “Those kids who are one-and-done, they shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage, not allowing them to keep the jersey they wear while selling replicas of them in stores. So our guy isn’t going to go to Florida State for a year. He’s going to come to our league.”

Ball said that since Big Baller Brand is promoting the league, players will wear the company’s products, including BBB shoes and a BBB-branded uniform.

Ball admits there’s a lot of work to do to get the league ready. No venues have been rented and ticket prices haven’t been set. He also doesn’t have any players yet — the league won’t include LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, who have signed with Prienai Birstonas Vytautas in Lithuania.

The logo for the league features a silhouette of son Lonzo, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, going to the hoop for a dunk.

“We don’t need a logo of a guy dribbling,” Ball said, an obvious reference to the NBA’s famous Jerry West silhouette. “Nobody does that anymore.”

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Source: ESPN