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Ever since rapper Master P and his now-defunct No Limit Sports negotiated what was widely regarded as one of the worst rookie deals ever for Ricky Williams in 1999, the sports industry has looked skeptically at musicians trying to get into the athlete rep business.
But rapper MC Hammer, who has opened Los Angeles-based Alchemist Management, says that he will be different because of his vast relationships in music, entertainment and social media as well as his roots working in sports. Hammer helped out in the Oakland A’s front office as a teenager in the 1970s and managed former world champion boxer Evander Holyfield. He said he had informally advised a number of athletes but declined to name them.
“We don’t have to theorize with me,” he said. “My experience goes back to the ’70s. I have done it over and over without the spotlight.”
Hammer, a three-time Grammy winner best known for the 1990 hit “U Can’t Touch This,” has also in recent years produced the reality television show “Hammertime” on A&E. He has founded social-media companies, including dancejam.com, and has spoken about social media at Harvard and Stanford.
Alchemist Management, which set up shop a few months ago, represents 12 MMA fighters, including UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt, Strikeforce middleweight contender Tim Kennedy and veteran UFC light-heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko.
“I have always enjoyed gladiator, combat sports — everything from the great art of pugilism to martial arts,” Hammer said. Alchemist is focused on representing MMA athletes, he said.
Alchemist President Lex McMahon, son of the late Ed McMahon of “The Tonight Show,” said the company will seek in-the-cage endorsements for MMA fighter clients as well as out-of-the-cage deals.
McMahon noted that despite MMA’s growth in recent years, few traditional sports management companies have developed major MMA representation divisions. “We view this as an opportunity to get in and spawn that growth,” he said.
HOOPS SIGNINGS FOR WASSERMAN: Wasserman Media Group has signed several NBA players, including San Antonio Spurs forward/center Tiago Splitter and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.
Wasserman also signed Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford. Wasserman Management President Arn Tellem and agent B.J. Armstrong will represent Horford. Tellem will represent Splitter and Gasol.
In addition, Wasserman has signed WNBA Connecticut Sun guard and ESPN women’s college basketball broadcaster Kara Lawson for representation. Lawson will be represented by a team of agents led by Lindsay Kagawa, Dan Levy and Jackie Harris.
HEADLINE MEDIA ADDS TWO: Headline Media Management, a New York agency specializing in broadcast talent, has signed ESPN broadcaster Mark Schlereth and NFL Network analyst Trent Green for representation. Headline Media CEO Lou Oppenheim will represent Schlereth and Green.
Liz Mullen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SBJLizMullen.