Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Influencers in the Ring: How Social Media Culture has Changed Boxing

In the past year, controversial YouTube influencer Jake Paul has had three boxing matches, winning all three of them. His brother Logan Paul, known for his incredibly troubling video in Aokigahara Forest of Japan, had started to box at a professional level before him. When the Pauls first announced that he was getting involved in the legendary sport, many were confused and mad that the personality — who has had far too many accusations of racism, sexism, and homophobia — was infiltrating yet another industry. And fans of the sport were outraged by the fact that someone who had not been training and dedicating most of their life to the ring would just rise in ranks above others who did not have a social status to get them there. 

Weirdly enough, the Paul brothers’ involvement in boxing isn’t the only update in the sport’s world. The brothers, if anything, inspired other influencers to create a tournament, a league of their own. In mid-June, the “ultimate” battle between two of the biggest influencer factions will take place in the YouTube vs TikTok boxing showdown. The series of fights have already gained much traction, especially from the tension between the night’s most anticipated pair, Austin McBroom and Bryce Hall — both of which also have many controversies attached to them.

Although most of the influencers entering the ring have had some sort of training that guides them through this new industry, fans are still not convinced that this new influencer branch of boxing is as serious as the same boxing that many great athletes competed in. But is this just what boxing needs? The increase in “super fights” where the name is usually prioritized over general ranking of athletes over the years suggests that sponsors and — as much as they may hate to admit it — fans are more interested in seeing people they dislike duke it out against each other or get pummeled by the pros. 

One could argue, however, that influencer boxing isn’t really boxing. It’s more of a reality show with a long, slow build up rather than a sporting event. People want to discuss the boxing-involved drama out of the ring instead of the strategic moves in the ring. The buzz comes from trash talk and influencer alliances rather than breathtaking boxing moves. Like other forms of entertainment, the audience for boxing is getting younger and younger. And while there are still people that enjoy the pure form of the sport, it is clear that the younger generations are also entertained by influencers. 

In short, influencer boxing may be good for the sport as a whole but fans most likely don’t see it as a sport; it is a hybrid form of entertainment but not something that will create boxing idols or people in the sport to look up to.