SBJ/Sept. 9-15, 2013/Game Changers

Game Changers: Lucia McKelvey

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Photo: MIKE MORGAN
McKelvey has made an impact in boxing by securing endorsements for Manny Pacquiao (whose autograph is on her gloves) and building a digital platform for Top Rank.
Corporate Partners
Lucia McKelvey
Top Rank Boxing | Executive Vice President

W
hen Lucia McKelvey was lining up endorsements for golfers as a vice president at IMG, a headhunter connected her with Top Rank Boxing President Todd DuBoef, who wanted a forward-thinking sales executive to corral opportunities for headliner Manny Pacquiao and build out a digital platform for the company. Each would require sweeping change.

“At an IMG, you didn’t really have an opportunity to make changes,” said McKelvey, who made the jump to boxing early in 2011. “Coming to Top Rank, I was able to do that. I could learn and then implement my own ideas. We all change at this company all the time. That was attractive to me.”

McKelvey made hay for Pacquiao in short order, placing him in national campaigns for Hewlett-Packard, Hennessy and Wonderful Pistachios. The digital remake has taken longer, but it has been extensive. Working with MLBAM, Top Rank now streams weigh-ins, press conferences and undercard fights from many of its events, and it plans to roll out a subscription-based product in the coming months.

“The digital opportunity in this sport is phenomenal,” McKelvey said. “Even though we’ve come a long way, we’ve really only begun to tap into that.”

— Bill King

  • Crowning professional achievement: Seeing my first deal I did for Manny Pacquiao with the Hewlett-Packard Veer phone come to fruition by a TV commercial. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I made that happen!”
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Mark Steinberg, Tiger Woods’ agent, was the first person to bring me into the sports world, taking a chance on my ability to sell but having little experience in sports. Since then, Todd DuBoef and Bob Arum of Top Rank have influenced my career tremendously in a positive way.
  • Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: I’m inspired by Serena Williams, as she’s created a cash cow from her brand. Trading in typical endorsement deals for equity-driven deals, and constantly seeking speaking/on-site engagements, she’s become the perfect mix in my eyes of someone who’s maximized sports as a business.
  • Best advice you’ve received: I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and a very fast runner, but my college lacrosse coach once said to me, “McKelvey, you could be the fastest runner on the field, but you’ll never get to the goal as fast as you would if you leveraged your team and passed the ball.” I think of that all the time. I believe in teamwork.
  • What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I would find it surprising that I would be able to mix my passion for sports and for business, and create a successful career out of it, and absolutely love it too. At 18, I thought work had to be boring to be fruitful, but oh was I wrong.

“She’s brought a skill set that I don’t think boxing has seen before. She shows up in the boardroom and gives people compelling reasons why they should be around this product and why they’re missing out. It’s a blessing not only for Top Rank but for this entire sport that we got her.”

— Todd DuBoef | President | Top Rank Boxing

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