British Boxing in Pop Culture
Photo by Bogdan Yukhymchuk on Unsplash
Boxing first gained popularity as a widely enjoyed spectator sport in Ancient Rome! The term ‘ring’ came from a circle drawn on the floor that the fighters first fought in.
The sport later resurfaced in London in the 17th century. British boxing has evolved beyond the ring to become a cultural mainstay, affecting not just films and fashion, but also music and video games too.
British Boxing in Films
With popular and relatable themes like the underdog story and fighting for redemption, British boxing in films has a cult following for a reason. The 2000 crime comedy film ‘Snatch’ was set in the London criminal underworld. Written and directed by Guy Ritchie, this film features Brad Pitt as a ‘pikey’ named "One Punch" Mickey O'Neil. Goofy and tough, he delivers punches with power and precision, and continuously knocks out multiple individuals who are bigger and stockier than him with little effort.
A turbulent biographical sports drama full of rage and jealousy called ‘Raging Bull’ (1980 by Martin Scorcese) features Jake LaMotta. At 19 years old, he was a strategic fighter, frequently deceiving opponents by appearing to be exhausted before initiating his attack. The drama and intensity of boxing makes for thrilling films, often delving into themes of perseverance, redemption and struggle.
British Boxing in Music
The gritty, rhythmic cadence of rap and hip hop is perfect for the sharp cadence of shadowboxing – and just as boxers often listen to rap and hip hop to get psyched up to train, lots of musical artists are also inspired by boxing culture. The popular British grime artist MC Skepta is heavily influenced by boxing and fighting, and lots of his lyrics reference famous boxers and themes about fighting. In turn, boxers love his music too!
Moreover, famous British grime and hip-hop rapper Stormzy performed the walk-on music for British boxer Anthony Joshua for his fight with Charles Martin. Stormzy changed the lyrics of his hit 'Shut Up' to rile up Joshua's opponent. ‘Shut up’ is one of the most famous British boxing walkout anthems, perfect for riling up the crowd, hyping yourself up and intimidating your opponent.
British Boxing in Fashion
With brands like Lonsdale and Everlast having dedicated collections to boxing, this sport has been a major inspiration for fashion in the areas of streetwear and sportswear. Using bold colours, vibrant logo designs and athletic silhouettes, the distinctive gloves, trunks, boots, and robes used in boxing have crossed over into mainstream fashion. Bold stripes, logos and satin are often seen on athletic shorts, and the high-top boxing boots have also gained popularity as a fashionable item. The rise of ‘athleisure’ has seen boxing-inspired sportswear and athletic wear become more mainstream and fashionable, with celebrities like David Beckham and Kate Moss incorporating boxing into their style.
British Boxing in Video Games
Video games use British boxing as a technique and inspiration for battle-mode in games and fighting on split-screen mode. The nostalgic 1987 Mike Tyson’s ‘Punch Out’ set the tone for all future boxing video games. Furthermore, on British casino sites, there are slots with boxing themes. Earlier this year, the most authentic boxing game to date was released, with Undisputed providing fans with a massive roster of licensed boxers and bone-jarring action and visuals. The thrilling game-play experiences will get your adrenaline flowing like you’re in the ring yourself!
The Cultural Impact
British boxing has always challenged societal preconceptions – with many fighters coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and rising to staggering fame and riches and reverence. The resonance and shaping of the sport within British culture has resulted in a huge amount of well-supported and well-funded amateur boxing clubs in the U.K. These produce British boxers that are world champions, and boxers that are more willing to take risky fights as these fights often turn into big events and drawing bigger crowds.
Although challenged by sports such as MMA, the future of British boxing is bright! This is a sport that has been around for centuries and has seen many changes over the years. Permeating many facets of pop culture, the sport and cult following of boxing is predicted to become even more popular and exciting.