WRESTLING RINGMASTER

Rizzuti.com has added sports management to its advertising services with the signings of Olympic freestyle wrestlers Kerry McCoy and Brandon Slay.

“I’ve wanted toget into [sports management] for a while,” said John Rizzuti, managing director of the Dallas agency. “But no athlete wants to be your first client.”

Rizzuti’s opportunity came when his shop was hired to handle marketing promotions for the 2000 U.S. Olympic wrestling team trials held in Dallas. There he met McCoy, the reigning U.S. national, pan-American and World Cup heavyweight champion, and Slay, the U.S. national title holder at 167 pounds.

“We did not want to be regular agents, flesh peddlers if you will,” Rizzuti said. “We will use both sports marketing and agency marketing to takeathletes in what isconsidered a minor sport to give themindividual brand identity. We will not be out there selling contracts, but doing speaking appearances, licensing, that kind of thing.”

The agency executive, a former grappler, is himself a fan of the sport and moonlightsas a part-time broadcast analyst for college wrestling.