Mark McCormack

Born - Jan 1, 1930   |   Died - May 16, 2003   |   Genres - Sports & Recreation

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Once named the "Most Powerful Man in Sport" by none other than Sports Illustrated (in 1990), marketing pioneer Mark McCormack not only created the concept of sports celebrity endorsement, but he turned it into a form of art as the founder and CEO of sports marketing mainstay IMG. Born the only child of a farm journal publisher in Chicago, the young sports hopeful was only six years old when his dreams of stardom were sidelined after being hit by a car. Told by doctors that he would never be able to participate in contact sports, McCormack compensated by hitting the golf course (which would eventually lead him to playing against Arnold Palmer). Later studying law at Yale before serving in the Army, McCormack took a job at a law firm upon his return home and later competed in the 1958 U.S. Open. It wasn't until two years later, when Palmer requested that McCormack review the legendary golfer's endorsement contracts, that McCormack's true calling began to set his career into motion. Though IMG would begin with a handshake between McCormack and Palmer, the company would subsequently expand its scope to include such celebrity heavies as Liv Tyler, Itzhak Perlman, and Tyra Banks, all the while amassing 80 offices in 32 countries. In addition to his work behind the scenes, McCormack's book What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School climbed the bestseller lists when published in 1984. Suffering a heart attack in January of 2003, McCormack lied in a coma until his death four months later. He was 72.