NEW YORK, January 11 –– Combate Americas, the premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sports and media franchise, today announced the appointment of its lead investor, longtime financial services and sports industry entrepreneur and philanthropist Joe Plumeri, as its non-executive, board of directors chairman.
Plumeri, the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for payment processing technology giant First Data, former chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings, former CEO of Citibank, North America and former President and Managing Partner of Shearson Lehman Brothers, as well as the owner of the New York Yankees minor league affiliate team, The Trenton Thunder, will sit on the board alongside Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) co-founder and Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren, and three of Plumeri’s fellow strategic investors.
Plumeri’s appointment comes on the heels of Combate Americas closing its series B round of financing.
“We are honored and excited to name such an esteemed and accomplished member of the business community like Joe Plumeri as the chairman of our board of directors and to have him play such a pivotal role in this movement we have created to serve the Hispanic millennial audience,” said McLaren, who launched Combate Americas in 2013 as a first-to-market venture that essentially combined his UFC pioneer experience with his storied background in television production.
“I am looking forward to this next chapter in my career that will allow me to focus on one of the last centers of growth in the U.S. economy – the emerging and exploding Hispanic demographic – through an incredible, first-to-market sports entertainment and media property that Campbell and his team have built with Combate Americas,” said Plumeri.
Prior to his role with First Data, Plumeri guided Willis Group Holdings for nearly 13 years to enormous value creation. He also served as President of Smith Barney, Vice Chairman of Travelers and Chairman and CEO of Primerica during his tenure with Citigroup.
As a philanthropist, Plumeri was named Humanitarian of the Year in 2006 after contributing the largest gift in history to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to fund the construction of the New Jersey headquarters of the non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases.
Plumeri is also responsible for funding the creation of business scholarships, athletic scholarships and annual faculty excellence awards at his alma mater, The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., where the baseball stadium, Plumeri Park, is named after his father. He also donated money to New York Law School to help create the Joe Plumeri Center for Social Justice and Economic Opportunity.
Combate Americas also recently announced a new company president in Alberto “El Presidente” Rodriguez, formerly Alberto Del Rio of the WWE, and a new television partnership that has its fight programming airing in over 135 million homes weekly on Azteca America in the U.S. and Mexico’s TV Azteca S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV: AZTECA; Latibex: XTZA), one of the two largest producers of Spanish-language television programming in the world.
For the first time in history, Combate Americas will head outside of the U.S. – to Mexico City, Mexico – with its live event series on Thursday, Jan. 19 when it will present a 10-bout fight card live on Azteca America and UFC FIGHT PASS®. The event will air the following evening, Friday, Jan. 20 on TV Azteca.