India’s Olympic and world medal winning boxer Vijender Singh has decided to end his contract with sports management company Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS), who have handled him since 2005, because he believes the company is exploiting him unfairly.
According to sources close to Vijender, the 23-year-old was very upset after he learnt that the commission his agents were getting was far more than the norm. His 10-year contract with IOS shows that the company keeps a whopping 60 per cent of whatever he makes, including from endorsements, while he takes home only 40. “In addition, IOS got him no endorsements before his Olympic bronze,” said the source. “This unfairness has gone on far too long and Vijender has the right to leave.”
While agents in cricket generally keep between 10-25 per cent, in agent-heavy sports like American football, baseball and basketball, it’s between 3 to 15 per cent. But unfortunately, Vijender could find himself in a legal tangle, because he, with or without understanding it, signed a contract that gives him little leeway. IOS CEO Neerav Tomar agreed from Milan that the contract gave IOS 60 and Vijender just 40, but added that he had generously given Vijender 70 and kept 30, “the current market rate.”
He added that if Vijender had actually signed his reported multi-crore deal with Percept, things would get messy. “He should have asked me first. We will go to court.”
Sports lawyer Rahul Mehra said everything depended on the contract. “If there is a specific clause barring him from signing with any other management company, then it can be a legal hassle for the boxer.”
In this case, only IOS has the right to leave Vijender, there is no exit clause for the boxer. The problem in India is that unlike in other countries, sports agents do not have to pass any exam, nor learn any laws, nor register officially as agents. No one governs them and there is no forum for redress.
“This is a continuous problem with sportspersons who come from small town backgrounds and are taken in by slick big city agents,” said a top Indian cricket board (BCCI) official. “It’s a problem in cricket, and probably much worse in other sports.”
Incidentally, IOS also signed contracts with 23 other boxers in 2005 and assured them a monthly stipend. They haven’t received that money for the last year-and-a-half. “IOS could have cancelled our contracts because of the non-performance clause but they still haven’t told us, nor returned the copy of our contracts despite being asked several times,” said one of the 23.