By Abraham Tejeda
Jessica Richman’s love affair with combat sports had a unique genesis: it began during her early days studying as an undergraduate at Williams College when a friend suggested that she take a boxing class.
“I found out that hitting things is fun. Hitting things hard is even more fun,” she gushed. “And I found out that I was pretty good at it.”
She was so good, in fact, that what started as a way to keep in shape led to Richman training to compete and becoming the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Boxing Association Champion in the 141-pound division.
Richman ultimately graduated from Williams College magna cum laude.
“At first, I settled for training randomly– whenever I was able to,” she explained of the struggle to balance her studies, teaching fitness classes at Williams College, and training in boxing.
Following her graduation from Williams, she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. While there, she helped establish the school’s boxing team and the annual charity fundraising event pitting the Penn Law boxing club against the Wharton School’s boxing club.
The training continued through law school. Richman obtained her degree, but still consistently spent time in the gym honing her skills, even while working for one of Philadelphia’s oldest law firms. While spending time around fighters of all levels, Richman began to notice something about many of the professional fighters she knew.
She explained, “There is not only poor management, but in many cases a complete lack of management.”
Richman described instances of fighters being called at the last minute for fights, denying them the opportunity to train properly, or being pitted against fighters haphazardly, with their management not doing any research on opponents.
“I got tired of seeing my friends get the short end of the stick, and I was comfortable with contracts and negotiations so…”
Richman’s legal expertise and passion led her to begin managing fighters, alongside her husband, Jason Sargus, a champion of multiple grappling sports and former Division I Wrestler for West Virginia University. Richman manages her fighters with the motto “Protect yourself at all times.” She meticulously reviews contracts, ensuring that any agreements related to fights are written clearly, and she informs her fighters of their rights and obligations. Richman’s care in reviewing contracts is something seemingly uncommon in a sport notorious for agents leaving fighters ignorant and, in many cases, broke.
It has not been easy for Richman in the sport, but not for lack of legal expertise or knowledge of the sport.
“The fight sport is a macho sport, and women are underrepresented in it, largely because there has traditionally been a lack of access for women. I show up at meetings sometimes and managers….