Sure Sports founder and president Leon McKenzie joined Rich Salgado on Big Daddy & Friends to discuss his background and how he got started in being of financial service to professional athletes.
Whether it’s helping college prospects have funds before they secure their first big professional contract, or even offering low-interest loans for mortgages, Sure Sports and McKenzie are part of a key market that supports athletes in a very unique way.
Leon McKenzie: From large bank job to sports entrepreneur
McKenzie explained how he used to work as a financial analyst, and later, a credit analyst for a massive bank, but found himself to be a little out of place in that working environment, feeling as though he could use his skills in different context.
When he moved to Miami, McKenzie got into touch with an athlete who was struggling to secure a loan amid a global financial crisis.
“Banks were struggling circa 2008…but also, it was hard to understand the makeup of a professional athlete, and being able to use his contract as an asset on his balance sheet,” McKenzie explained. “We saw that there was a need.”
From there, the business snowballed, as McKenzie, who earned his MBA from Villanova University, said, “The next year we had five athletes and decided to incorporate.”
McKenzie and Sure Sports now work with thousands of athletes. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a real demand for services like Sure Sports, as several top prospects in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft opted out of the college football season to focus on preparing for the pros.
Among the other services Sure Sports offers in addition to the ones previously mentioned, there are loans available for business ventures, along with financing for paying insurance premiums, loans for free agency and even during arbitration.