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Todd Boehly: From high-school wrestler to sports team supremo
Boehly led the consortium which now owns Chelsea.
High-school wrestling champion Todd Boehly has successfully grappled with one of the most complex takeover deals in the history of sport.
The American, worth 4.5 billion dollars (£3.6bn) according to Forbes magazine, is now the de facto owner of Chelsea after the consortium he led gained Premier League approval and the Government issued a licence allowing the sale to proceed.
Boehly’s business interests are vast and varied. Through holding company Eldridge Industries he has invested in Bruce Springsteen’s back catalogue, while he has also invested in the company which owns the restaurant chain Le Pain Quotidien and Chuck E Cheese pizza parlours in the United States.
He lives in Darien on Connecticut’s Gold Coast with his wife Katie and their children Nick, Zach and Clay.
Sport has played a big part in his life stretching back to high school. He attended the private Landon boys’ school in Bethesda, Maryland, and helped the school’s wrestling team, nicknamed the Bears, become Interstate Athletic Conference champions in 1990 and 1991.
He left such a lasting impression that the school’s wrestling room was named in his family’s honour in 2014.
“Todd expended as much energy on the sidelines in encouragement of his team-mates as he did on the mat,” his maths teacher Steve Sorkin said at a ceremony to mark the naming of a room, as reported in an article on the school’s website.
“How fitting it seems that so many of his classmates have travelled distances to attend the dedication, exemplifying the spirit of brotherhood that stands as Todd’s hallmark.”
Boehly went on to study at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he met his future wife Katie, a fellow student.
Academically, though, he ran into difficulties and sought a pep talk from his old Landon maths mentor Sorkin.
“College overwhelmed me, my grades started to suffer and I started to languish. So I came back to Landon and I talked to Mr Sorkin,” Boehly recalled in 2014.
“It was Sork’s idea to go study at the London School of Economics. He said, ‘You need a redo, so go find it.’ That got me going back in the right direction, and for that I’ll forever be grateful.”
He worked at Guggenheim Partners until 2015, before setting up Eldridge, which is headquartered in Greenwich in Connecticut.
Chelsea are not his first venture into sports ownership by any means – he bought his 20 per cent stake in Major League Baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers a decade ago.
Since then he has invested in the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most valuable teams in basketball or any other sport, whose former stars include Magic Johnson, the late Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.
Boehly told Landon pupils in 2014 that honour, brotherhood, courage and character were “critical” attributes in life.
“I hope you stay true to those causes because those are the things that will get you where you need to go,” he said.
Conscious that some American owners, notably the Glazers at Manchester United, have been viewed with scepticism and suspicion by supporters, Boehly has been keen to involve people in the bid with authentic Chelsea connections, including Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein and music PR specialist Barbara Charone.
Wrestling team-mate Art Rosen said he had asked Boehly the secret of his success and was told: “When I’m negotiating a deal, the objective is not to get the best deal for myself but to make a deal that’s fair to all parties involved.
“Most people try to wring every penny for themselves. That strategy earns them more money on one specific deal, but it doesn’t build trust or long-lasting relationships.”