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4 mins read

Tradeblock, a Black Owned Sneaker Trading Platform Just Raised $9 Million

Tradeblock, a Black owned sneaker trading platform has raised over $8.9 Million dollars in funding from investment partners Courtside VC, Trinity Ventures, and Concrete Rose Capital.

From its humble beginnings in 2020, with just 300 users and just under 5000 shoes, Tradeblock has experienced exponential growth in its 2 years of operation, amassing more than 1 Million shoes listed in users’ virtual closets this year.

The monumental growth of the online marketplace can be attributed to the platform’s unique consumer experience that was key in the vision of making Tradeblock a reality.

Co-Founder and CEO Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, along with Co-Founders Darren Smith and Tony Malveaux, sought out to bridge the gap for passionate collectors who were losing the battle against bots on sneaker drops and those who cannot afford rapidly increasing resale prices; increases that are largely driven by resellers cornering the market on popular shoes for the sole purpose of profits.

Tradeblock will use the proceeds from the financing round to help further invest in growth in its sneaker business as well as expanding and improving its one-of-a-kind authentication and logistics operation, which involves inspecting and authenticating shoes from both sides of the trade simultaneously in a complex and highly-interconnected process.

Additionally, Tradeblock will be investing in more data science capabilities to enhance the customer experience as it continues to define the virtual bartering experience by developing the marketplace further.

The funding raised within this round brings Tradeblock closer to its north star of providing accessibility in the resale market for those who should not let high and unjust prices define the attainability of their dreams and culture and also of ensuring that the marketplace offers the best in class services for its members.

Tradeblock is also driven by a deep passion for building a company that actually resembles the people it serves. “Black and brown communities have always been the backbone of the sneaker industry and sneaker culture,” says Co-Founder and CEO Mbiyimoh Ghogomu. “Showing those folks that they can be the owners and operators of this industry as opposed to just consumers is both a point of pride and a deeply rooted responsibility for everybody at Tradeblock.”

The Tradeblock team embodies this sentiment of representation within their workforce: besides having three Black founders, Tradeblock’s workforce is more than 80% BIPOC, and the senior leadership team is over 75% BIPOC.

Tradeblock | Secure Sneaker Trades

The marketplace is set for a rolling close to end their Seed II round and is expecting an additional $4.5 Million in investment by the end of it. Tradeblock aims to redefine the basis of sneaker culture by focusing on their pillars of community, accessibility and sustainability.

The mission and vision resonate with the public and trumpet the goal of leveling the playing field for the BIPOC community who has played a tremendous role within the culture that is the foundation of the sneaker industry.

“Tradeblock is revolutionizing the way forward for the new emergent asset class of footwear. The founding team’s understanding of the nuances of culture and tech gives them an unfair advantage in the industry and the team’s desire to lead with inclusion, representation, and authenticity also provides them with unique and meaningful organic engagement,” says Tradeblock angel investor Jason Mayden, a former Nike and Jordan footwear designer who now serves as President of Fear of God Athletics.

The marketplace’s continual growth goes to show the long lasting impact it will have within the sneaker industry for years to come.

Tony O. Lawson

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2 mins read

Naomi Osaka Becomes First Professional Woman Athlete To Open Her Own Sports Agency

Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka has announced that she is launching her own sports agency, Evolve.

naomi osaka

“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional,” Osaka said in an email. “Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way.”

Osaka’s contract with IMG expired at the end of 2021, and as she explored a renewal with more flexibility in the kind of partnerships she could do, it became clear a renewal was not going to work.

Osaka started Evolve with her agent Stuart Duguid, who has also left IMG. Both will hold equity stakes in Evolve. There are no outside investors at this point.

The move isn’t unprecedented for athletes, though it’s rare.

LeBron James started LRMR for his marketing work in 2006 and entrusted close friend Rich Paul with his on-court contracts, while Maverick Carter handled business off the court.

Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman founded Thirty Five Ventures in 2016 to operate the business of the four-time scoring champion.

However, Naomi Osaka is the first female athlete at that level to take full control of her business endeavors and attempt to build an agency.

In a recent statement to Sportico, Duguid said, “The core of Evolve is building Naomi’s business from $50 million a year to $150 million a year.”


Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Erin Jackson Becomes First Black woman to win Olympic medal in Speedskating

Erin Jackson made history when she earned a gold medal in the 500-meter speedskating event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing Sunday.

The 29-year-old former inline skater won the women’s 500 meters at the National Speed Skating Oval with a time of 37.04, earning her first Olympic medal in what has been her best event. She also makes history as the first Black woman to win an Olympic medal in speedskating, according to The Associated Press.

It was also the Americans’ first speedskating medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Erin Jackson

Jackson joined Shani Davis as the only Black athletes to win speedskating medals at the Olympics. Davis, also an American, won gold in the men’s 1,000 meters and silver in the 1,500 meters in the Olympics in Turin in 2006.


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2 mins read

Olympian Allyson Felix Launches Her Own Shoe Company After Leaving Nike

Allyson Felix is a four-time Olympian and one of the most accomplished sprinters in U.S. track and field history. She is also the president and founder of her own shoe company called Saysh.

Two years after her public split with Nike, Felix announced the upcoming fall launch of her lifestyle company. Felix didn’t present as an activist at first glance, but her op-ed detailing Nike’s failure to provide maternity protection for its sponsored athletes proved otherwise.

Felix has since embraced her role as a fierce advocate for working moms in sports, and now she’s given birth to a company that’s dedicated entirely to women. Saysh’s first shoe, the Saysh One, is already available for preorder on the company’s website.

From the brand’s simplicity and the airy silhouette of the premiere shoe, it’s clear that Saysh shoes are designed with the everyday woman in mind.

“It’s really about meeting women where they are,” Felix said in a recent interview. “It’s for that woman who has been overlooked or feels like their voice hasn’t been heard. That was the biggest thing when I spoke out, was hearing from other women across industries. And having such a connection there, feeling like it’s so much bigger. There’s just that power in the collective.”

With a company led by women—including designers and engineers, Felix aims to fight against the unequal sports industrial complex and create a more equitable world for women and mothers in sports.

If you’re wondering, the track star has been running in a Saysh track spike during the Olympic trials and will wear them in the Tokoyo Games as well. Felix confirmed her spot in this year’s Olympics a couple of weeks ago, so she will technically be the first athlete to run in her own brand.

You can watch Allyson Felix perform in the unreleased Saysh shoes during the Tokoyo Games, which start July 23rd.

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1 min read

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.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!

Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

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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3 mins read

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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7 mins read

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

3 mins read

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)
5 mins read

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 Black 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.

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