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How to market Boxing to expand its demographic and popularity

By Wil Patino: With the increasing rise of the NFL and combat sports like the MMA growing in popularity, I want to discuss how the same can be done with Boxing. The average age for a viewer is somewhere between 35 and 50, depending on which statistics you go by. So it would seem to me that we need to reach a younger demographic. There was a time where kid’s role models would be boxers over other athletes of other sports. Muhammad Ali is a prime example of someone people looked up to and had posters of, in iconic fashion.

When I was younger I remember watching my first fight back in a time where I never saw or cared about boxing. I couldn’t escape the event because it was all over the news and hyped up to be the fight of the century, or so that’s what the media was saying. It’s actually the only fight my parents ever purchased on PPV. It was De La Hoya vs Trinidad in a fight of the unbeaten. So it was exciting as a casual fan watching undefeated champions go at it with the “O” at stake. I remember as a young kid seeing BIG PUN and Fat Joe rapping their classic as Trinidad walked his way into the ring. I didn’t know any of the fighters, but seeing BIG PUN, a musician I recognized was exciting to me. Made me feel like what I’m about to watch is important. So in a way it influenced me to watch more. At the same time though I did watch the fight and although it was not an explosive one because it was more of a technical fight. I grew to appreciate it and immediately enjoyed the event and wanted to see more.

With that being said, I believe there are certain “gimmicks” we can implement to the sport of Boxing to reach our younger viewers. The Super Bowl is an event that is huge due to all the “gimmicks” involved in entertaining the viewing public. The singing of the national anthem by celebrities, the fireworks show displayed, the jets flying over the stadium and overall atmosphere of the game. We should incorporate some of these or similar tactics to our sport to get people more excited for Boxing and reach the masses.

So much more can be done to the ring walks to make it more dramatic, entertaining, and epic for the fans. Now I’m not saying we have to make it a circus or go overboard, but there can be ways to turn the ring walk into a mini show of sorts before the bout begins. Prince Naseem, Vitali Klitschko, Mayweather, and others have embraced this idea in the past before. We all remember Prince Naseem’s entrances and who could forget Mayweather dressed in Mexican colors walking into the ring with 50 cent before the De La Hoya fight. Even Mike Tyson’s entrance when arriving to fight Michael Spinks was very dramatic yet simple. These are all subtle changes we can make to entertain and expand our viewership.

We can have recognizable faces singing the fighters national anthems before an event. Would be nice if it was sang by an artist that is in the spotlight and at the top of their game at the time they perform. Making it something the casual fans look forward to. (Like the NFL does with the half time shows) Maybe a light show of sorts, like we see in the Olympics to get the fans at the event riled up and ready for action. It may sound like a lot but these are small changes that CAN be done. Also is it me or have I seen better highlight videos edited by people on YouTube then what they play on the screens before the fighters walk in to the ring? We can show more epic videos to have people anxious and on the edge of their seats before the bout. That feeling is something that I believe can only be felt in boxing. As Max Kellerman once said there is nothing like the moments right before the bell and after the bell in a championship fight. It gives you chills!

Some of these commercials for fights I’ve seen seem so low budget and underwhelming. “Gorilla Productions” is a good example of the way a promotional boxing video should be done. Go check him out on YouTube. “Gorilla Productions” also has great highlight videos, honestly that video editor needs to be hired by someone (HBO/Showtime) to promote these events. I also think that with all these licensing rights that HBO and SHOWTIME own hurt the exposure of boxing. Boxing should be able to be highlighted and clips of big events should be seen on sport programs (ESPN) and News channels. So people are more exposed to it, instead of the usual 3 or 4 pictures they show when they have a small 30 second segment of the event on these networks. Seems like after every main event I can’t seem to find an in depth post analysis anywhere. Except for online where I would have to search. As boxing fans we have grown to learn we must search and find boxing, boxing doesn’t search or find us, which is the biggest problem when it comes to the exposure of this magnificent sport.

Last but not least, when I speak of these changes I speak only on the Main Events. Fights that bring in the big bucks. In my previous article I discussed rule changes that are needed in boxing to improve the sport. So I know there are a lot of things that can help improve and expand the sport, but this article is about exposure for the sport. Would be lovely if one day a major fighter who becomes a free agent without a deal on a network, can try to set up a main event on a major network like FOX to truly expose our sport to casual fans. Something I wish would be done, just imagine if we didn’t have to pay and the fight can be seen by anyone with a TV with huge amounts of promotion like a super bowl. One can dream right? Of course boxing politics come into play that can ruin that. What do you think are some ways to bring Boxing to the forefront and make it one of the major sports like football, baseball, and basketball are today?


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