As Anthony Joshua invests in UK-based muscle therapy brand Pulseroll, we look at the growing role of technology in boxing and its impact on competition in the ring.
It might not be a popular development with the more traditional followers of the craft but boxing is rapidly becoming inseparable from its high-tech enhancements – not just because of the appearance of advanced sensors in and around the ring, but because boxers themselves are putting their weight behind promising tech start-ups. For better or worse, it’s something that’s now common to all sports in the new decade.
Boxing’s flirtation with high technology might seem a little ironic, though, given that it’s one of the oldest and purest sports out there, and very little equipment is required to get involved. However, as a fighter gets more proficient, and the stakes get larger, tiny edges begin to make the difference. Modern tech like Corner and 2, which analyze punching speed, force, and several other metrics, are designed to help boxers find these advantages.
Of course, that’s not all.
Broadcasters and interactive entertainment spaces like betting and gaming have injected technology of their own into boxing. Live betting, for example, which allows fans to bet on each round as it’s happening, alters the way in which fans enjoy the sport. The bet assist tool from bookmaker Mr Green claims to offer a competitive edge for its users when betting on sport too. It has no bearing on what occurs in the ring but it's nevertheless a good example of the ubiquity of technology in sport.
Antony Joshua joins Pulseroll as an advisor and advocate of the company’s equipment, having used its products regularly over the past few years. Pulseroll sells handheld, vibrating massage equipment that’s designed to increase blood flow and reduce soreness after training. The business already has a number of high-profile users, including the football teams Sheffield United and Norwich City.
Pulseroll, by virtue of the type of products it sells, exists entirely out of the ring – and this is arguably the only place it’s possible to innovate within the sport. Amateur and fitness-orientated boxing is a major growth area for investors, several of which come from a distinctly more professional background. Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, and former US National Team member Tommy Duquette all recently joined forces to fund FightCamp.
Another start-up in a similar mold to Corner and ROOQ, FightCamp is a ‘smart’ punch and kick bag that recently raised $90m from Tyson and Co. The concept ostensibly takes its cues from hardware like Peloton and LiteBoxer, which was also funded to the tune of $20m. The idea behind all these products is that the equipment itself can provide workout instructions, rather than a personal trainer or gym instructor.
But what relevance do these products have to competition in the ring? Directly, almost none – but Iron Mike’s reasons for investing in FightCamp stem from interest from the next generation, which bodes well for the sport's future. Joshua’s interest in healing and recovery technology is perhaps the most ring-relevant investment on our list, as manual massage is practiced by almost all professional sportspeople immediately after they leave the field.
Overall, the presence of technology in boxing can only be a boon for the sport – at every level.