When pop-culture publisher Gareb Shamus appeared on our April cover ["A Market Worth Fighting For", April 2006], he was about to launch the International Fight League, an organization that pits kickboxer against wrestler against karate black belt. In April, the IFL held its first competition before a full house of about 3,200 at the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. As Shamus predicted, his fighters struck blows and the IFL struck a chord with audiences and marketers. Before the event, Microsoft's Xbox 360, DoubleSport, and Suzuki Motors signed on as IFL sponsors. "It could not have gone better," says Shamus. "We are on the map now." Though he won't give sales figures, Shamus says merchandise sold well at the event, especially hats and T-shirts supporting the Pitbulls--a team specializing in jujitsu. After the tournament, the IFL added a merchandise store to its website.
Before the big event, Shamus inked a television contract with Fox Sports Net to air the first night's matches in three installments and to broadcast upcoming IFL events, starting with a round of matches that were scheduled for June. And Rogers Sports Net signed on to show the IFL's bouts in Canada. Shamus says he is negotiating a master foreign distribution agreement, as well as home video distribution and video game rights.
And in May, Shamus announced plans to go public in a reverse merger with a shell company called Paligent, which is traded over the counter. The merger is expected to be completed early this fall, pending SEC approval.