Blockchain tech is the boxing industry’s game-changer

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Boxing is the fourth most popular sport in the United States; yet, behind closed doors, it’s one of the most divided and inefficient sports industries. The growth of social media, extensive marketing campaigns by advertisers, and an influx of influencers stepping into the ring have helped with its recent growth. It is now estimated to have an estimated value of over $1 billion in the US alone and 300 million boxing fans globally.

Nevertheless, the industry faces significant challenges today, particularly for young, underrepresented amateurs who don’t benefit from this growth. Thankfully, blockchain technology has the potential to transform this.

Talent should be relative to career progression in any sport, but unfortunately, this isn’t always enough. The journey to becoming a professional boxer involves collaborating with several individuals across the globe, including sparring partners, agents, promoters, trainers, nutritionists, and masseurs, who use different platforms to connect and communicate. This fragmented landscape makes it hard for inexperienced boxers to find the right professionals, negotiate fair compensation, and establish mutually beneficial relationships.

With 17 weight classes in men’s boxing alone and four different governing bodies handing out belts, the industry operates within siloed ecosystems with opaque decision-making processes that often lead to disputes over rankings, fight negotiations, and revenue.

Access to substantial funding is essential for career growth, yet financial barriers often mean aspiring boxers miss opportunities. However, the top professionals can earn millions of dollars, like Floyd Mayweather who received $223 million from his fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2015; however, in 2018, the average professional boxer earned just $35,584 gross. The enormous costs associated with securing and paying for top-tier stakeholders, services, and equipment, traveling overseas for networking, and building a brand presence make the path to success economically unviable for most.

Many of these issues are experienced throughout the sports industry, but sports clubs, athletes, and governing bodies are utilizing the benefits of the decentralized blockchain to tackle them.

Blockchains like Chiliz facilitate the creation of fan tokens so sports teams can engage with fans and increase monetization, such as Tottenham Hotspur’s ‘Spurs Fan Token.’ The technology is also being used to streamline processes, such as Sports Illustrated’s NFT-based ticketing service, to combat fraudulent ticket sales and further incentivize fans. The symbiotic relationship between sports enthusiasts and crypto holders has led to strategic partnerships aimed at growing awareness, such as Lionel Messi and Bitget, the Arena in LA, and Manchester City and OKX.

In boxing, a range of exclusive NFTs were sold by world heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, with all funds going towards helping a charity in his native Ukraine during the war. However, blockchain’s potential to transform the boxing industry goes far beyond NFTs.

Decentralization holds the key to revolutionizing the boxing industry. The blockchain provides a single decentralized network to combine the fragmented ecosystems of boxing, removing centralized third parties and promoting transparent transactions and interactions between stakeholders.

A growing creative economy has seen the increased tokenization of real-world assets (RWA), and now boxers, promoters, coaches, sponsors, and other industry players can tokenize their skills and services on the blockchain. This gives them complete control over their data and career decisions, enhancing transparency, reducing costs, and streamlining processes vital for poorer, marginalized boxers at the start of their careers.

Not only this, but blockchain’s global accessibility to anyone with an internet connection creates a unified boxing community for boxers and fans, increasing networking opportunities and helping aspiring talents easily identify sparring partners to help them achieve success.

Blockchain’s transparency and immutability are vital in bringing trust to the industry. With all data stored permanently on the blockchain, such as records of athlete contracts, partnerships and financial transactions, it encourages trust between stakeholders and supports them to make informed decisions. Accessible to all, boxers can analyze past transactions to understand legitimacy, ensuring fair compensation and reliable partnerships. If an advertiser pays a boxer via that boxer’s agent on the blockchain, the boxer has complete visibility of the amount he should receive without the agent taking an unfair cut. Similarly, it can combat corruption, such as the eleven boxing fights at Rio 2016 that were thought to be fixed, by exposing the payoffs to judges or boxers involved.

With sensitive data about boxers and high-value transactions at stake, blockchain’s robust security measures reassure industry participants of their data privacy and integrity. Strong cryptographic encryption techniques protect transactions and communications, making it difficult for fraudsters to intercept or alter data without permission and preventing illicit or non-legitimate transactions. This high security gives confidence to boxing professionals, particularly those that are new or skeptical of blockchain technology.

Decentralization also reduces transaction costs and removes intermediary parties that might take a cut within the boxing industry. Cryptocurrencies are a universal means of exchange for enabling seamless cross-border transactions such as payments for coaching services, advertising endorsements and fan engagement. As a globally accessible currency, it widens the net of connections that can be made within the industry, allowing American boxer Mike Tyson to easily pay his Brazilian promoter, Rafael Cordeiro, without having to worry about exchange fees between currencies.

Fan tokens and NFTs are a great way to empower boxers to monetize their brand and interact directly with fans, bypassing traditional intermediaries and maximizing revenue streams for athletes. Fans are incentivised to purchase the token by unlocking access to exclusive content and decision-making processes.

The final piece of the puzzle can be solved through the creation of a unified, blockchain-based SocialFi platform housing the industry’s needs under one roof. Last November, the world’s first boxing platform, Ready to Fight was created, harnessing the benefits of decentralized web3 technology to bridge together the boxing, fan, and crypto communities. By providing a vast ecosystem for boxers to showcase their talents, network with industry peers, and connect with fans to monetize their content, Ready to Fight is set to solve the boxing industry’s issues once and for all.

Although a lot of work will need to be done to convince web2 users to adopt the technology, as the boxing community embraces blockchain innovation, the industry becomes clearer, fairer and more accessible for all.

Sergey Lapin

Sergey Lapin

Sergey Lapin is the co-founder and CEO of Ready To Fight, the first blockchain-based online boxing platform. Created in November 2023, Ready to Fight is a SocialFi platform aiming to help athletes (amateurs and professionals) interact bilaterally with promoters, coaches, sponsors, sparring partners, psychologists etc. on mutually beneficial terms, whilst connecting with fans and monetising their content. Transactions are powered by their native RTF token within a transparent, open and secure network. At Ready to Fight, Sergey oversees the direction and evolution of the platform, integrating his experience of the fragmented and inefficient boxing industry with the benefits of blockchain technology to spearhead a technological revolution within boxing. 

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