How Do Aesthetics Play Their Part In Boxing?
By Space Coast Daily // August 22, 2023
It’s 1996, arguably the height of Heavyweight Boxing. Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson are in a follow-up fight from seven years previous. Mike comes back stronger, leaner and more menacing than ever, intending to beat his opponent again, but was this done before they entered the ring?
The aesthetic prowess of Tyson scares many who hold Frank Bruno dear to their hearts, like a national hero. Mike Tyson, for all his subsequent PR nightmares, is still regarded as one of the best boxers of all time.
The world has changed since the days of Frank Bruno and even Lennox Lewis, with the likes of Antony Joshua performing like the ultimate powerhouse. For those who remember these magnificent late 90s early 00s boxers in the ring, it is clear how much things have changed in the 25+ years that followed.
Not only the commercials of the sport but the Aesthetics of the sport too. If we look at the financial side of things, Bruno’s net worth is estimated at 10 million, whilst Antony Joshua has an estimated net worth of 120 million, more than 10x Bruno’s.
Comparison of Bruno and Joshua
- Height 1.90cm vs 1.98cm (8cm more)
- Weight 112 kg vs 115.8kg (Almost 4kg more)
- Reach 82in (208cm) Equal
The role of aesthetics in Boxing
Known for his muscles and incredibly ripped torso, Antony Joshua is tall and menacing, and his significant physique makes him intimidating. The idea of looking the part is to ultimately influence your opponent and increase the chances of winning.
Joshua is a big guy, both aesthetically and physically. His presence can be felt. However, despite all this immense bravado, Antony Joshua is a down-to-earth and grounded professional. We can see glimpses of his character and professionalism in this interview.
“It is a collection of aesthetic constructions, including the shape of the ring, the predictable rhythm of timed rounds, the uniformity of the boxers’ glamorous attire, and the stylisation of the combatants’ postures and punches. In The Art and Aesthetics of Boxing, Scott explores the ways in which these and other aesthetic elements of the sport have evolved over time.” – Author David Scott.
What about Tyson Fury?
There is always the counterargument that while aesthetics help, you don’t need them to be a great boxer. Tyson Fury, another British boxer with a worldwide presence, is far from ripped, but his physical stature and genetics make him a fantastic fighter. With a reach of 216cm, 8cm more than Joshua, and 8cm on him in height, too, Fury is a beast. While traditional aesthetics might not entirely apply in this case, Fury has a presence, thanks to his stature, bald head, beard, and aggressive approach, which are his fighting narratives. These things make him a concern for anyone entering the ring.
Why Aesthetics work
Aesthetics work because they speak to our emotions and ideals. They contribute to our perception of a person or thing. They encourage excitement and conjure feelings that intrigue and enthuse us. Positive or negative, they leave us with an impression and memory of that person/place or thing.
Increase intimidation – If you appear more prominent and stronger than your opponent, this can give you the upper hand by unnerving them. These kinds of head tactics are well-known in Boxing at all levels.
Encourage training – Seeing results encourages more effort, so aesthetics can play a big part in keeping you motivated. Like when you start at the Gym, the change you see helps to keep you motivated to keep going. Looking good and staying focused can be helped by keeping your aesthetic goals in mind. If you are looking to start Boxing Fitness, Mirafit can help.
Increase confidence and performance – Confidence is essential going into the ring, so feeling confident beforehand is a critical advantage, one that can help give you the upper hand. Featherweight Boxer Naseem Hamed intimidated his opponents by boxing with his hands down and dodging punches. The showman reportedly netted 30 million during his fight career. He retired in 2002 and was sponsored by the global brand Adidas.
Aspirational to fans – Aesthetics help us feel contentment and hope. They connect us to the world around us and explain why fans are enthused by a personality like Antony Joshua. It is part of why he is so popular with all ages.
Present professionalism – Any athlete that trains and looks the part will enjoy the additional benefits of looking professional. These can include more significant social media followers, better sponsors and more TV appearances.
Improve sponsorship opportunities – A fitter-looking athlete, usually one that is winning, can command more money from sponsors. Like a sports car, shape, grace, performance, and looks are significant in the decision-making process.
We have looked at how and why aesthetics work. They provide you with a presence and build a firm picture of how you might perform.
The benefit of aesthetics in Boxing includes intimidating your opponent, making you more desirable as an athlete to sponsors like Underamour in Joshua’s case. Underamour typically works with sports persons who are seen to take the sport seriously and train hard to be the best they can be. The fitter type of physique typically means that you are more invested and commercially focused on your personal brand.
As David Scott states in his quote, Boxing Aesthetics is more than just size and muscles. But these are definitely part of it. Naseem Hammed’s aesthetic was his confidence, his swagger and the impressive Southpaw strike that left 31 of his 36 fights in a knockout. He also had a fantastic physique like Joshua, just on a featherweight frame.
Antony Joshua will continue his impressive career in the steps of the giants like the Brunos, Tysons, Lewis and Hammeds and keep making his mark. Just days ago, he worked on his aesthetic by doing pushups on his Twitter feed and sharing this with his fans. If you want to return to boxing fitness, consider Mirafit’s boxing packages.