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Muhammad Ali Enters Ring With IMG To Expand Worldwide Licensing Punch

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

March 23, 2011: Muhammad Ali Enterprises, which oversees all licensing rights for legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, has signed a deal with IMG Licensing to "act exclusively as representation for the brand in Europe and Asia" for consumer products licensing.

Financial terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.

IMG Licensing, a division of global sports, fashion and media company, IMG Worldwide, said it would "combine its extensive knowledge of the boxer’s life with its global capabilities in product licensing, providing opportunities to extend the brand to new consumer touch points."

According to Kelly Hill, vp-worldwide licensing for Muhammad Ali Enterprises, “IMG is clearly the leader in sports licensing of all kinds, but what attracted us most is their proven track record in developing new and innovative licensing concepts that leverage the characteristics of brands and iconic personalities outside of the natural core competency.”

Muhammad Ali Enterprises, New York, represents Muhammad Ali in North America.

Greenlight, Los Angeles, a celebrity marketing and licensing company, also works on behalf of Ali. The company signed a deal this past December with Muhammad Ali Enterprises for exclusive rights to in Europe and Asia Pacific to handle advertising and promotional opportunities.

"Ali’s inspiring journey, his achievements in and out of the ring and his devotion to humanitarian efforts are all material for branded concepts and product ideas."

According to Jim Gallagher, spokesman for IMG, the two companies will work in harmony on Ali's behalf. "We cover different areas," said Gallagher. "Ours is for consumer products licensing. Their's is for promotional endorsements."

Despite having retired from boxing in 1981, Muhammad Ali remains one of the most well-known sports personalities and humanitarians in the world. His self-perpetuating global licensing power includes a vast array of products, from clothing to CPG.

This summer, a special edition Muhammad Ali Monopoly game from USAopoly will hit retail. Visitors to Ali's Web site are currently being asked to vote on the game pieces from among 10 choices, of which the top six will make the cut: An Ali silhouette, Muhammad Ali's signature, boxing shoes, gloves, trunks, ringside bell, seed bag, championship belt and, of course, a butterfly and a bee.

IMG Licensing said it would seek opportunities in both "traditional sports licensing categories including memorabilia and apparel, as well as new business areas that capture and leverage the showman and essence of Muhammad Ali."
“Ali is simply the greatest boxer ever and IMG Licensing is honored to be entering into this partnership with Muhammad Ali Enterprises," Bruno Maglione, evp and global managing director for IMG Licensing, said in a statement. "Ali’s inspiring personal journey, his achievements both in and out of the ring and his devotion to humanitarian efforts are all material for branded concepts and product ideas that can generate interest from Ali fans old and new.”

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