Formerly known as Ultimate Boxxer, BOXXER have certainly made waves as the new kids on the block in the world of boxing. When it comes to promoters within the sport, some of the biggest include veterans like Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn that have certainly made their mark, but now Ben Shalom is looking to bring a fresh approach to the sport.
The founder of BOXXER is keen “to bring inclusivity, innovation and entertainment to one of the oldest sports in the world” by partnering with “some of the world’s leading media companies and brands to make this vision a reality.”
So, how successful has this been so far? In this blog, I’ll be delving into the origins of BOXXER before analysing how they’ve used Sky Sports, their values, and the power of online content to create a strong and successful brand that’s built on this goal noted above.
Of course, there are several angles that could be covered here, including a more in-depth assessment of BOXXER’s fight cards and approach to acquiring boxers. However, I’ll be approaching this as more of a top-level overview, looking specifically at the brand’s partnerships, coverage, and some of their marketing!
The Origins of BOXXER
The origins of BOXXER are built on a story of true determination and a passion for the sport. Ben Shalom grew up in Manchester, and recalls Amir Khan’s time at the 2004 Athens Olympics as one of his earliest boxing memories, followed by Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather in 2007 and David Haye vs Nikolai Valuev in 2009, all of which left him hooked.
After running events such as club nights and concerts at university and in his spare time, he combined this experience with his passion not only for boxing, but for improving the sport.
Speaking about the brand’s origins, Shalom said he’d realised through these initial observations and his friends that were boxers (some professional), that boxing was ‘the best sport in the world’. Despite that though, fighters were poorly paid and the events weren’t run particularly well.
And, whilst sponsors were somewhat interested in the events, that interest from broadcasters was lacking. With that in mind, Shalom started to attend shows regularly to further analyse how the sport could evolve, adapt, and improve.
He then borrowed £10,000 to obtain his boxing promoter’s licence, launching his brand from a small Cheetham Hill flat. After some serious graft and determination, hosting small boxing shows in the area, Shalom soon started to mix with local legends and some of the biggest names in boxing – like Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton – who spurred him on and supported him even further with his business.
Now, Ben Shalom is the youngest licensed promoter in the UK, but a successful one at that. Whilst his journey is still very much ongoing whilst BOXXER continues to grow, you can’t deny just how far the brand has come so far.
Besides the hunger, the passion, and backing from some of the biggest names in UK boxing, how exactly has Ben Shalom grown such a successful brand, and how can he continue to do so?
Leveraging the Power of Sky Sports
Sky Sports is vital in so many different sports, and boxing is no exception. Sky has supported British boxing for many years and as one of the main sporting channels, landing a deal with Sky has certainly been influential to the growth of BOXXER.
The four year deal with Sky Sports doesn’t just put the fights on a bigger stage, but it gives Shalom and his team access to influential figures in the sport that can take boxing, and his brand, from strength to strength. They’ve now got access to Adam Smith, Sky’s Head of Boxing, and John Wischhusen is also involved, bringing learnings from 26 years at Matchroom Boxing with him to help this growing brand.
According to Shalom, Sky Sports are on board with his vision for the future of boxing and the transformative approach that he wants to implement. Not only that, but the deal improves BOXXER’s ability to sign fighters, and thus put on events, whilst also drastically improving its funding.
So, on paper, the deal with Sky has certainly done wonders for the brand, and there’s no denying that it has. But, of course, it also comes down to the fights and drawing in an audience.
Enticing Casual Sport Fans
One of the big advantages of having boxing shown on Sky Sports on a Saturday night is football. More often than not, there’s a 17:30 kick off between two big teams, drawing in a significant audience.
Following that game, how many people keep Sky Sports on, and end up invested in the boxing that follows it? How many people, watching the game in the pub with their mates, end up having a few more drinks and see the fights that follow? And how many people having a night in are drawn in by the boxing ads and the promotional videos that are shown during the ad breaks of the football coverage?
These are what you’d call casual sporting fans, and it’s these casual fans that BOXXER could really entice and use as a way to build their following and increase their brand awareness. Given that Matchroom now has a deal with DAZN, a streaming platform, following their stint with Sky, it’s likely that they’re not going to have many casual fans tuning in.
BOXXER need to use this to their advantage, and arguably need to raise the bar with quality, competitive cards. Khan vs Brook certainly drew the audience in from the get-go, and getting this fight agreed was something no other promoter had been able to do. They need to keep that standard high to truly leverage the power of Sky.
Creating & Demonstrating Clear Brand Values
Not only do BOXXER partner with leading brands and media companies to promote their fights, but they lead or partner with initiatives – such as those led by England Boxing – to give back at a grassroots level.
England Boxing is the national governing body for boxing in England, with the vision to ‘inspire and transform lives through boxing’. Working closely with England Boxing is crucial in BOXXER’s aim to bring inclusivity to the sport.
Take the Shields-Marshall fight as a prime example. Despite the fight being postponed due to the death of Her Majesty the Queen, it demonstrates how BOXXER aims to give back to the community. For every ticket sold through England Boxing members, BOXXER pledged to give £5 to an England Boxing amateur club. This move, along with the fight itself, was hoped to inspire and increase participation in the sport, especially amongst women and girls.
Rewind to the week before that scheduled fight when BOXXER took over M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, and there’s another clear example of how the brand has carved out clear values rooted in the aim of giving back and helping others through the sport.
BOXXER teamed up with Molly McCann to support Weapons Down Gloves Up – a programme that aims to keep youngsters away from violence and gun crime.
Not only did BOXXER support the initiative by actively promoting it, but they pledged the following: funding for future Weapons Down Gloves Up courses, digital signage at the arena on fight night, and support for the courses on the programme with visiting talent from BOXXER’s roster.
One thing that’s clear about Ben Shalom and his brand is that they are committed to changing the sport, whether that’s at a grassroots level or towards the top by breaking down barriers such as the belt system, judging, and regulation within the sport.
Whilst BOXXER have to ensure they keep casual fans engaged, it’s this commitment that is likely to entice long-standing boxing fans that are hungry for change within the sport.
Using Online Content to Drive Awareness & Engagement
From the get-go, Shalom has been committed to providing a modern experience through his brand and the fights, and much of this relates to the use of social media, modern streaming platforms, and content creation.
When starting out, Ultimate BOXXER hosted events that went beyond the traditional realms of boxing. One of the first events set eight unbeaten boxers against each other using an elimination format. For this event – dubbed ‘Prizefighter for Youtubers ’- and others that followed, Ultimate BOXXER partnered with UNILAD and streamed their shows live on Facebook to showcase their modern concept to a wider audience and even further into the mainstream.
The aim here was to promote the boxers through “online power and flexibility”, engaging a casual audience that have otherwise never been fully engaged with boxing. Putting the likes of Jack Fincham on the card – a Love Island winner turned boxer – also helped BOXXER to resonate with a newer audience, thus expanding the audience that they appeal to.
Since starting out as Ultimate BOXXER, the brand has continued to put out engaging video content online, much of which showcases the fighters and their stories – its the power of storytelling here that helps to entice a loyal audience. BOXXER have used Youtube to their advantage for this, as well as Meta, but they’ve also used YouTube to stream footage of their press conferences and weigh-ins, again somewhat living up to their aim of making the sport accessible.
The most important thing now is for BOXXER to maintain this momentum with their output of content, whilst also ensuring they’re visible across all platforms and in all formats, such as with a podcast like many of their competitors have invested in.
Final Round: Concluding Thoughts
Taking fight cards and their roster out of the equation and looking solely at the points explored in this blog, BOXXER have very successfully secured deals that are influential in their growth, demonstrated their clear brand values, and have started to leverage the power of online content with storytelling and streaming. Whilst much of this can help to engage a new audience, as discussed, there also needs to be a focus on engaging the casual fan too.
Of course though, the fight cards play a big part in that, and it mustn’t be forgotten that BOXXER are fighting against the tide – some would argue that boxing is on the decline, and politics with promoters, TV channels, and governing bodies is letting the sport down. That being said, that’s exactly why BOXXER exists – to break these barriers and make the sport accessible.
If, like BOXXER, you’re looking to build a credible brand through increased online activity and engaging content, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with the team today and find out how our full-service marketing agency can take your brand to the next level.