President & Co-founder
Heritage: Dominican & Puerto Rican
By: Frank Morris Lopez
Jhoancy Zapata never finished high school. Now this Boston native is breaking barriers as one of the few Latinas in the sports management industry.
At age 16, Zapata gave birth to her first child, prompting her to drop out of Boston Arts Academy. While she went on to get her GED from Mujeres Unidas Avanzando in Dorchester, she never attended a traditional college or university.
“I was a makeup artist. I went to school for makeup in New York. I did a few fashion shows, worked for Sephora, worked for Blue Mercury. Then everything changed,” Zapata said. “It went from makeup — all girly, pretty and cute — to now it’s like dirt, baseball, sports, sweaty.”
In her new life chapter, Zapata finds herself negotiating millions of dollars in contracts and endorsements for professional and collegiate athletes. It’s what she does as the president and co-founder of Z-Axis Sports, a boutique marketing and sports agency.
The idea started while her husband was working on a capstone project for his executive master’s of business administration from Suffolk University. After picking the brains of former Red Sox players Manny Ramirez and Pedro Ramirez, as well as her own uncles who played baseball — including Quilvio Veras, who played for the Marlins, Padres and Braves — the couple put the company together.
Five years later, Z-Axis Sports has grown to a company of 10, with now more than 20 athletes on its roster. Zapata has negotiated contracts north of $4 million for her clients with companies including Gatoride, Adidas, Oakley, Armani, Microsoft, J. Cole, Puma and T-Mobile. And in under a year, she negotiated more than $3.5 million in NIL (name, image, likeness) endorsements for breakout Dominican basketball star, Hansel Emmanuel.
Zapata fashions herself a tough but fair negotiator with a lot to offer and who’s loved every minute of being an entrepreneur. “I feel very proud of myself,” she said. “I feel like we all go through times when we doubt what we’re doing or if we’re doing the right thing or if we’re doing enough.”
She said her main goal is making sure her family is proud of her, too. To her Puerto Rican father and Dominican mother who worked so hard, she says, “this is what we have, this is for you.”