Reggie Martin’s the stars’ star in China

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No distribution to other 2nd party agencies or subsidiaries <<<Chris Farina/Chris Farina – Top Rank
Reggie Martin does it all at the Venetian Casino in Macau, site of Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri fight.

MACAU — Three years ago, Reggie Martin was awoken at 4 a.m. by the buzzing of his cell phone.

Kobe Bryant was on the line.

“I need somewhere to go shoot baskets, man,” Martin recalls him saying.

Bryant was making a public appearance at the Venetian Casino in Macau, and Martin, as the VIP/celebrity relations specialist for the casino, is the guy famous people call when they need a favor. So Martin hailed a taxi from his home and traveled the short distance to the Venetian, meeting Bryant at his hotel suite and arranging for the Lakers great to satisfy his early morning hoop dreams.

“That was definitely interesting,” Martin says.

He laughed at the memory Wednesday, sitting in a Venetian ballroom, dressed in a slick black suit and silver tie as a public relations flack sat a few feet away.

He was trying to describe what he does.

“They call me a superstar for the superstars as far as making sure everything is laid out for them,” Martin says in his relaxed Midwestern accent. “So it’s baby-sitter, caretaker, tour guide, bodyguard. They come to me because I know exactly what they need — the room they like, the food they like, the restaurants they want — the car service.”

As part of the Venetian Macao’s mission to infiltrate the highest levels of sports and entertainment, it relies on Martin, a 42-year-old African-American from East Chicago, Ind., to act as a liaison to non-gaming VIPs and celebrities.

“His primary function is to wrangle celebrities, if you will,” says his boss, Ed Tracy, the CEO of the Sands China, Ltd., a subsidiary of the Las Vegas Sands. “He serves a great purpose for the (casino’s) overall entertainment strategy.”

In this way, Martin is a throwback to the free-wheeling days of old Las Vegas, where larger-than-life casino hosts were trusted with bringing in high-rollers and making sure they left happy. But his current job description also fits in neatly with China’s current capitalistic approach.

“Remember something, the Chinese culture is very brand-oriented,” says Top Rank president Todd duBoef, whose company is staging the welterweight title clash between Manny Pacquiao and Huntington L.I.’s Chris Algieri on Saturday. “Gucci, Tom Ford, Prada, they want it,” duBoef says. “So they want the big celebrities. They want the David Beckhams, the Kobe Bryants. That’s what they want and that’s where Reggie comes in.”

Martin counts NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as a friend, a connection he forged through former Commissioner David Stern, who visited Macau as part of the league’s attempt to penetrate China’s billion-plus consumer market. Martin says he is also close to Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, who once played a preseason game at the Venetian in 2007 with the Orlando Magic.

The NBA’s U.S. national team played two games at the Venetian Macao ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, where Martin says he befriended Brooklyn Net Deron Williams. Martin says he called Williams nearly two years ago to see if he could make an appearance at the casino.

“That’s my dude,” Martin says.

Martin’s popularity is such that he was immortalized in a rap video called “Reggie Martin Style” about his celebrity-filled existence in Macau.

He says he counts Wolf Blitzer as a mentor.

Martin expects Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone to attend the fight on Saturday. Melody Thornton, formerly of the Pussycat Dolls, is scheduled to sing the national anthem. Stephen Baldwin and Dave Chappelle will also be there, Martin says.

“I’m the one who invited them to come,” he says. “Just personal relationships.”

And then there is Bryant.

Luckily for Martin, there was a hoop set up in the arena’s concert hall from a charity event Bryant attended, and the basket and floor were left untouched.

“So I looked like the man,” Martin says.

As fight week unfolded and Pacquiao and Algieri made the rounds, it quickly became apparent that Martin is nearly as well-known as the boxers. When Pacquiao made his grand arrival on Tuesday, he stopped to give Martin a hug. And during the final press conference on Wednesday, Algieri’s co-trainer, Keith Trimble, shouted to Martin out from the dais. “He’s just a very down-to-earth, genuine guy,” Algieri says. “It’s good to have him around.”

Martin was also chummy with Roy Jones, who was in Macau to train an undercard fighter. Jones remarked how rare it was for an African-American to be living in China, and Martin says he is often the only person of color at the casino.

“I like seeing Reggie,” Jones says. “It makes it easier when you come here. It’s almost like you’re home.”

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