This website is exclusively devoted to Garry Kasparov, it deals with his life and times including: Kasparov Today, Biography, Photo Album, Speeches, Simuls, Appearances, His Books, Merchandising , The Kasparov Chess Foundation, and details of his worldwide representatives - S.M.S.I., Inc.
Owen Williams in his Palm Beach office.
Owen Gordon Williams born in Idutywa, Transkei South Africa 23rd June 1931.
Educated at Selborne College, East London, South Africa he gained worldwide attention as "the potato peeler for Wimbledon". He worked his passage on the Royal Mail Steamship PRETORIA CASTLE from Port Elizabeth to Southhampton and qualified for Wimbledon. He played the tennis circuit for next seven years including the four GRAND SLAMS, Wimbledon, US Open, French and Australian Open, unusual because not many of the "circuit players" of the day played the Australian Open.
The fifties spawned the term "tennis bums" an affectionate title for the elite band of pioneers playing tennis full-time following World War II. Circling the globe living out of a suitcase with no visible means of support were to his mind the equivalent of earning a PHD with Honors! Then business, marriage and family beckoned and the globetrotting came to an abrupt halt. His first business in 1957 was an import/export agency in Johannesburg where he lived for the next 22 years founding, owning and operating more than a dozen different businesses. The Johannesburg Sunday Times labeled him the largest one-man conglomerate in Africa. His start was with sports goods importation, then followed in quick succession "Queen Anne", Rare Scotch Whisky, Bollinger Champagne and cigars. He introduced the "Herring-bone" tennis shoe to SA followed by a public relations company and publishing several magazines. His success in tennis led to the promotion of six other sports, golf, squash, field hockey, ice hockey, indoor horse jumping and grand prix motor racing, but tennis was never very far removed from the axis of his life.
In the early 60's Williams, a self-confessed work-a-holic took over the ailing South African Tennis Championship and in one year took it to second in attendance behind Wimbledon (250,000), and well ahead of the US Open (30,000), the French (25,000) and the Australian (16,000). The SA Tennis Nationals grew to 125,000 spectators constrained only by the limits of the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.
Owen Williams with his trademark cigar.
Gladys Medalie Heldman the influential publisher of "World Tennis' magazine" journeyed from New York City to Ellis Park to report on the tournament then being called the 5th Grand Slam. This led to Williams appointment in 1969 as the first-ever Tournament Director of the US Tennis Open at Forest Hills. Heldman credited Williams with almost single-handedly pumping life and a new vision in tennis tournaments and tennis promotion. "He attend to the minutest details" whilst painting a canvas filled with sponsorships, private boxes, corporate hospitality suites and tents, promotions with high fashion and generally a pizzazz hitherto lacking in the game"
The Forest Hills event was an enormous success and the tennis boom began. Williams innovations included the US Open Club (still existing today), 300 new boxes and corporate entertainment hospitality tents. That year the US Open made a larger net profit than the gross income of the prior year. Spurred on by US Open Chairman Joseph F. Cullman III, Williams signed a five-year contract with CBS which survives and flourishes nearly 40 years later at Flushing Meadows.
The South African tennis championships regularly drew the top ten men and women and in 1974 Williams succeeded in persuading the government to give Arthur Ashe a Visa to play in SA - a Visa with a double catch to it. Williams had to assure the South African Government that Arthur would not try to start a riot. On the other hand, Arthur wanted assurances that he would not be beaten up or arrested. Ashe visited SA three more times and he and Williams started "The Black Tennis Foundation"
Rebecca and Owen Williams.
This golden decade of SA tennis led to Williams election to the new ruling body of men's professional tennis - the M.I.P.T.C. (the men's international professional tennis council) a body formed as a direct result of OPEN TENNIS and the subsequent tennis boom, an explosion handcrafted by Williams and 7 others: Jack Kramer, Donald Dell, Cliff Drysdale, Arthur Ashe, Derek Hardwick, David Gray and Phillippe Chatrier. They preceded the eventual power of the super agents.
Lamar Hunt then lured Williams to Dallas to run World Championship Tennis. As CEO of WCT, he organized an incredible number of worldwide events and finally retired after ten years in Texas.
After four years of retirement living in New York City, Williams moved to Florida to become Executive Chairman of MASTERS INTERNATIONAL, a start-up sports marketing company.
The #1 golfer, Nick Price was the major client as was Ernie Els for a short period. Other golfing clients included Robert Allenby, Michael Campbell and David Leadbetter. Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player of all time joined Masters on December 14th, 1995.
|S.M.S.I., Inc., The Kasparov Agency|
Williams & Kasparov left Masters on April 1st, 1998 and started SMSI, Inc. (Sports Management Strategies International).
The world of chess has brought an exciting and challenging new DIMENSION to Williams' management expertise.
The conversion from tennis globe-trotting to the chess tour brought about a new set of destinations. The world of chess includes the old Yugoslavia, places like Reykjavik, Linares, Bled, Wijk-aan-zee, Leipiz, Jerusalem, and parts of the old USSR.
|There Is Never A Dull Day|
There is never a dull day - is how Williams describes representing Kasparov. From a chess simul literally cut out of solid ice in an Icelandic sub temperature blizzard to a "live" match via the CNN TV Studio in Manhattan against Boris Becker who was in the CNN Studio in Munich studio, to the first Man and Machine vs Man and Machine match in Leon, Spain or a four and a half month long "Kasparov vs the World" on MSN network, with a menu like this how can life ever be dull.
SMSI is the exclusive worldwide agent of Garry Kasparov.
The site Kasparovagent.com will provide a deep insight into the life and times of the greatest chess player of all time.