SBJ/20011224/Labor & Agents

New firm signing up extreme athletes, talking about endorsements

Action Sports Management, a new company founded to represent extreme sports athletes, has quietly signed 20 clients and is in talks about endorsement deals, said its president, Bob Walker.

"There will be some big announcements in the next couple of weeks regarding sponsorships for our athletes," he said.

Walker, who is also president of Global Sports Marketing & Events, a sports marketing and events firm, formed Action Sports with former supercross athlete Jimmy Burton, sports lawyer Tim Hoy, financial planner Michael Black and Todd Hahn, a former representative for World Industries, a major skateboard and snowboard manufacturer. Action Sports is based in Phoenix.

The firm represents snowboarders Bjorn Leines and Marc Frank Montoya, as well as skateboarders and motocross and supercross athletes.

Walker said extreme sports athletes have become increasingly marketable in recent years but some top athletes don't have agents and are signing unfavorable marketing deals.

"You would be amazed at some of the language in the contracts, and they are not reading the fine print," he said.

BOBER SIGNS McPEAK: Professional volleyball player Holly McPeak has left longtime agent Leonard Armato and signed with women's sports agent David Bober in an unusual deal.

Athletes switching agents is all too common these days. What's different about this situation is that Armato and McPeak are married, and he recently became her employer when he bought the AVP Tour.

Armato immediately removed himself from a conflict of interest by quitting as McPeak's agent and recommending that she sign with Bober, who represents dozens of top women athletes, including soccer superstar Mia Hamm.

"We felt it would be best for the individual players to be represented by an agent with no equity interest in the AVP itself," Armato said.

Bober said he appreciated the recommendation, calling McPeak "the most accomplished athlete in her sport."

ATHLETES FIRST HIRES HUMENIK: Athletes First has hired Mark Humenik, an employment lawyer from Cleveland, as the company's general counsel. Humenik is exploring the possibility of Athletes First starting up a baseball practice, said Joby Branion, Athletes First executive director.

Athletes First, formed by a group of lawyers who left sports firm Steinberg Moorad and Dunn earlier this year, represents dozens of NFL players, many of them former clients of Steinberg Moorad. That firm has sued Athletes First, alleging a number of things, including breaches of employment contracts. Attorneys for Athletes First have denied any wrongdoing.

In one of the first signings of the season, Athletes First signed UCLA fullback and 2002 NFL draft prospect Ed Ieremia-Stansbury. Ieremia-Stansbury is represented by Branion and Athletes First CEO David Dunn.

SKATEBOARDERS FILL POST: Ellen Zavian has been named executive director of the United Professional Skateboarders Association, a new organization dedicated to the promotion and advancement of skateboarders.

Zavianis also the commissioner of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

Contact Liz Mullen with labor and agent news at

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