CrossFit founder Greg Glassman has sold his company to tech boss Eric Roza after weeks of controversy surrounded the branded fitness regime. The terms of the deal will not be disclosed, a CrossFit representative said.
CrossFit has seen a mass exodus of sponsors, athletes and affiliates over the past few weeks due to Glassman’s remarks about the recent George Floyd protests on Twitter, in an email exchange and on a Zoom call, as well as two expose pieces accusing him of sexual harassment.
On Wednesday, CrossFit made multiple posts introducing Roza, an affiliate owner who has owned CrossFit Sanitas for a decade.
In an official release to affiliate owners, Dave Castro said “Eric is one of us” and that Roza started “boxes”, a reference to CrossFit gyms, at his tech company Datalogix and at Oracle after it bought his company. Roza also released a statement on his Twitter account.
Glassman’s downfall as CrossFit CEO began on June 6, when the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tweeted that racism constituted a public health emergency in the wake of protests that broke out across the US – and later worldwide – following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Glassman replied to the tweet: “It’s FLOYD-19”.
He then added, in another tweet: “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is ‘accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots.’ Thanks!”
That same day, Alyssa Royse, a CrossFit affiliate owner from Seattle, leaked Glassman’s response to an email she had sent him upbraiding him for what she saw as CrossFit’s lacklustre response to the coronavirus pandemic and its failure to come out in support of the George Floyd protesters.
“You're doing your best to brand us as racist and you know it's bulls***,” Glassman allegedly replied. “That makes you a really s****y person. Do you understand that? You've let your politics warp you into something that strikes me as wrong to the point of being evil. I am ashamed of you.”
And according to BuzzFeed News, before making his tweets, Glassman had told CrossFit staff on a Zoom call: “I doubt very much that [protesters and CrossFit users are] mourning for Floyd. I don’t think that there’s a general mourning for Floyd in any community.”
The allegations led many CrossFit supporters to call for his resignation and a subsequent apology did little to stem the criticism.
Glassman, 63, was also accused of sexual harassment by 12 women – eight former employees and four CrossFit athletes – according to a report by The New York Times at the weekend.
The unnamed alleged victims accused him and other CrossFit employees of discussing, as the Times put it, “how much male employees, primarily Mr. Glassman, would like to have sex with them and how lucky the women should feel to have his rabid interest”.
In his statement, Roza said: “My view is simple: Racism and sexism are abhorrent and will not be tolerated in CrossFit … I will be working hard to rebuild bridges with those we have lost.”
Following the announcement of Roza’s purchase, CrossFit tweeted a statement from Glassman, who said: “I started a company with some essential and elegant truths that nobody could, or maybe would, tell. It resulted in the fastest growing chain in world history. It did so well and became so popular that it has become a thing far larger than I could have hoped.
“The world has changed, but the magnificent human machine, the proven benefits of CrossFit, and its market opportunity remain unchanged. It is time for the founder to bid adieu and find other creative outlets.
“I have complete faith that Eric Roza … can shepherd CrossFit Inc effectively into this new world.”
The CrossFit Games are scheduled to take place August 17 in California in a stripped down competition due to coronavirus restrictions.
Additional reporting by Mark Agnew and James Wilkinson