KOBOX Boxing Club has launched its PROUD campaign with Attitude – the UK’s best-selling gay magazine – encouraging gay men to pick up a pair of gloves and help smash away the current stigma attached to the sport. I've been very proud (pardon the pun) to represent KOBOX over these last few months as their ambassador for reasons just like these.
Not only are they championing fitness, they're also unashamedly egalitarian in the way that they promote their brand. The people behind KOBOX know the true definition of community spirit.
In this campaign Kris Pace, brand director at KOBOX has addressed a glaring misnomer that boxing is a sport exclusive to straight men.
'The lack of gay men participating in boxing, and boxing-related fitness, has needed to be addressed for some time now, and we felt this was a profound way to deliver a clear message to everyone within the sport.
We welcome anyone through our doors, from any walk of life, and the LGBT community is, without question, absolutely a part of that. On this occasion, after speaking to Attitude magazine and those closest to us, we wanted to start by challenging the perception that boxing is a sport predominantly for straight men in particular. But this is just the beginning...’ Kris Pace, brand director at KOBOX
Boxing clubs are, by some, still seen as hostile, intimidating environments to work out in. Many in the gay community rightly see boxing as an incredibly effective way to get fit, but many say they feel uneasy about trying their hand at it.
Has there never been any famous gay boxers?
Yes there has, and perhaps more than you think. Emile Griffin is considered one of the greatest welterweight boxers of all time. He killed fellow fighter Benny Paret in the ring on March 24, 1962 and was famously quoted -
“They forgave me for killing a man, but they couldn’t forgive me for loving a man.”
His bisexuality was only revealed after his boxing career; Orlando Cruz became the first boxer to come out during his professional career in 2012.
It's amazing to think that we still live in a world where we need these kind of campaigns, but the sad truth of it all is we do.
So what's the campaign about?
In the run-up to London Pride in July, KOBOX Boxing Club launches its PROUD campaign with a hard-hitting video, showcasing the isolation and exclusion some gay men may feel when thinking about taking up the sport.
The video is filmed in its London City studio, displaying the visceral environment of KOBOX that runs on the mantra of Fight Club Meets Nightclub. Through the use of deliberate homophobic rhetoric, the film sensationalises the stigmatisation some gay men feel when thinking about getting into boxing.
The video doesn't pull its punches (ok that pun was intended) and has succeeded in delivering some of the underlying concerns and emotions, felt by many people in the gay community.
‘No one should feel intimidated coming to a boxing class at KOBOX, or any other gym for that matter. Any perception that gay men aren’t welcome at a boxing club is outrageous.' Kris Pace
A host of names feature in the video – which is led by creative director Jerry Reeve – including showbiz journalist James Ingham, TV producer Joff Powell and comedian and TV presenter James Barr.