‘Somebody will die’: Rise of influencer boxing sparks safety fears | UK News

Feb 18, 2024 | Entertainment, News


Influencer boxing is taking the sport by storm – but it’s also creating serious safety concerns.

It consists of popular YouTubers and internet personalities fighting each other in the boxing ring.

But thanks to their cult following, some of them – like Jake Paul, Logan Paul and KSI – have become the most recognisable names in the sport today, and some of their payouts are said to be into the millions.

One of the biggest combat sports pay-per-view fights in 2023 came from an influencer boxing event held in Manchester, Sky News has learned.

The event, named the Prime Card, was dubbed the 'Super Bowl of Influencer Boxing'. Pic: Misfits Boxing
Image:
The event, named the Prime Card, was dubbed the ‘Super Bowl of Influencer Boxing’. Pic: Misfits Boxing

The show reportedly had over a million sales and was put together by the world’s most popular promotion company, Misfits Boxing.

Their first event in August 2022 drew nearly two million viewers on the DAZN Boxing streaming network, with 90% of them being new subscribers.

Kalle Sauerland, president of Misfits Boxing, as well as an established promoter in traditional boxing, sees influencer boxing as “the ultimate version of changing the sport for the better”.

‘Kids love that online beef’

Influencer boxing thrives on gimmicky characters with razzmatazz and zing – and its supporters say it offers a type of entertainment that traditional boxing doesn’t.

Scenes such as those seen at a press conference last year – with tables, mics, bottles and cake being thrown into the air by John Fury, Logan Paul and Dillon Danis – can go viral, resulting in millions of clicks for companies like Misfits Boxing.

Some influencers are commonly restrained by security to avoid clashes before the fight. Pic: Misfits Boxing
Image:
Some influencers are commonly restrained by security to avoid clashes before the fight. Pic: Misfits Boxing

Mr Sauerland said: “It’s a different type of entertainment. You’re not watching it because you’re going to see a jab like Muhammed Ali’s. You’re not going to see the feet of Muhammed Ali either. But you are going to get great entertainment.

“You’ve got storylines, you’ve got what the kids love that online beef, and I think that’s the secret of the success.”

The fairly new phenomenon rose from humble beginnings in 2018 with all fights taking place under amateur regulation – the event required every fighter to wear headguards and 16oz gloves.

The first influencer boxing event saw YouTubers KSI and Joe Weller fight for charity. Pic: KSI / YouTube
Image:
The first influencer boxing event saw YouTubers KSI and Joe Weller fight for charity. Pic: KSI / YouTube

However, as interest has grown, the scene has evolved from its original form and matched the professional game with the removal of head guards and the adoption of 10oz gloves. These changes were first introduced in 2019 and have since been in place.

The transition to professional rules has also been a contributing factor to more stoppages and knockout victories, which are a celebrated part of the sport and often used for publicity.

Knockout victories are common in the influencer scene. Pic: Misfits Boxing
Image:
Knockout victories are common in the influencer scene. Pic: Misfits Boxing

For a dangerous sport with the basic intent to produce bodily harm by specifically targeting the head, it raises questions on whether it’s even a space for novices to dabble in.

While it’s not legally required for companies to hire governing bodies to sanction their professional boxing events, given the number of health and safety protocols needed, it is advised to.

‘Somebody will die’

The British Boxing Board of Control, the only government-recognised authority for professional boxing in the UK, has been seeking to separate itself from the influencer boxing scene, since its inception.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Concerns over the rise of influencer boxing

Robert Smith, the board’s general secretary, told Sky News: “I am concerned. I don’t agree with influencer boxing, and the main reason being is some of the standards you see are very, very poor.

“And therefore, I’m fairly confident that a lot of people who take part in that, if they applied for a license with us, would not get one.”

He added: “Boxing is dangerous. Somebody can, will possibly die in the future. And obviously the trouble with that then is it’s not just influencer boxing, it’s boxing.”

Mr Smith's BBBofC are renowned for their stringent regulations.
Image:
Robert Smith, of the British Boxing Board of Control, says some standards ‘are very, very poor’

Just earlier this month, professional boxer Kazuki Anaguchi, 23, died from a brain injury that he sustained from his last fight in December 2023.

There haven’t been any serious injuries in influencer boxing thus far, however, on several occasions, influencers have violated the rules of boxing – in the form of illegal knockouts and failed drug tests.

Those actions have led to disqualifications and suspensions by the Professional Boxing Association (PBA), which has been in charge of regulating most influencer bouts.

Reality TV star Chase DeMoor received a suspension for continuing to punch his opponent after a knockout. Pic DAZN
Image:
Reality TV star Chase DeMoor received a suspension for continuing to punch his opponent after a knockout. Pic DAZN

Last year, the PBA withdrew from working with promotion company Kingpyn Boxing, due to safety concerns.

Sky News approached Kingpyn Boxing for comment, but it did not respond.

Last month, the PBA also parted ways with Misfits Boxing, though confirming that it has “always held high standards when it comes to boxer safety”.

Misfits Boxing has told Sky News it recognises the concerns and takes boxer safety “to the highest possible professional standard”.

‘It’s a disaster waiting to happen’

Former European champion Spencer Oliver almost lost his life in the ring after a right hook gave him a life-threatening blood clot in the brain and ended his fighting career.

Mr Oliver was put into an induced coma for two weeks and made a full recovery.
Image:
Former boxer Spencer Oliver was put into an induced coma for two weeks after suffering a blood clot

He also helped to organise the very first influencer boxing event in 2018, but the current state of what he started makes him feel “guilty” and fear that “someone is going to get injured in the ring like I did back in 1998”.

Mr Oliver told Sky News: “With the influencer boxing and where it’s heading now, you’ve got guys and girls coming out with no experience at all, they’re not conditioned at all, they’re going in there, and some of them are too one-sided, way way too one-sided.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

He added: “My message to the promoters that are involved in these matchups is make sure you get the matchmaking right because, at what cost? And it’s on your head if you don’t.

“It will leave a stain on boxing; God forbid something happens to one of them.”



Source link

Recent Post

Recent Event Post

Post you may also like

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Open chat
1
Scan the code
EventsChronicles
Hello 👋
How can we help you?