After storming into the semi-finals of the World Boxing Championship in Italy on September 10, World Number Two boxer and Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh became one of India's highest paid non-cricket sportsmen after he signed a multi-crore image management contract with Percept Talent Management.
As a result of this deal, Vijender is expected to take home around Rs 3 crore a year, significantly more than other non-cricket sports stars like Saina Nehwal (badminton), Abhinav Bindra (shooting) or Pankaj Advani (billiards), say industry insiders. This minimum payment excludes his earnings from various shows on which he will appear, including television shows.
The only non-cricket sportsperson to earn more from brand endorsement deals is tennis player Sania Mirza, who takes home around Rs 8 crore a year for her six brand endorsements (see table). Industry sources, however, say Mirza's endorsement rates are bound to fall, given her current poor form — she lost in the second round of both Wimbledon and the US Open.
Percept has roped in Singh to promote a fast-emerging genre called “action sports,” the global term for events like scuba diving, sky diving, bungee jumping, rock climbing, mountain biking and so on. “Let me clarify that this is not a brand endorsement deal. We are committed to investments in 'action sports' and we will use Vijender as an icon for that,” said Shailender Singh, joint managing director, Percept.
“In India, we love action and entertainment. Boxing is both entertainment and action. We will make Vijender the equivalent of what Sylvester Stallone was for the Hollywood film series Rocky," he added.
Before the image management deal with Percept, Vijender was taking home Rs 50 lakh to Rs 60 lakh for two brand endorsements of Pepsi and Bajaj Allianz. Vijender has a four-year endorsement contract with Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS), a sports management firm, which will run concurrently.
Percept will put Vijender on a reality show of a leading broadcaster to begin with. Films, television appearances, events, and boxing competitions are also part of the broad plan.
“We will do everything possible to build the image for Vijender as an icon of action sports. For example, Akshay Kumar on Fear Factor is simply packaging, while a Vijender on Fear Factor will be real,” Singh said.