Promoter Eddie Hearn & Claressa Shields have hit out at the role which the rise of “influencer” boxing and saying it has a detrimental effect on the sport and, in particular female boxing, which has ultimately developed and grown in legitimacy, quality and a profession for those involved.
Controversy arose this past weekend when apparent influencer Daniella Hemsley exposed her breasts following her performance at the Kingpin boxing event featuring several of these called influencers showcasing their skills in the ring.
The move by Hemsley, which was nothing short of a personal PR stunt with no intellect attached, caused outrage with Hearn, who primarily broadcasts his entire Matchroom Boxing events on the DAZN platform. Influencer boxing promotions including Misfits and Kingpyn have seemingly found themselves at home on the DAZN platform, of which Hearn is the most prominent and active promoter on the network regarding professional boxing.
Hearn, who promotes several female boxers, including the likes of Katie Taylor, Chantelle Cameron, Terri Harper & Alycia Baumgardner, wants influencer boxing as far removed from professional boxing as possible.
“My opinion is, I hate it,” Hearn told Boxing Social. “I hate it. We’ve worked so hard for women in boxing to be respected for their ability, for their merits, for their hard work. One thing we must understand is that ain’t boxing. That needs to be pushed. All that stuff — Misfits, Kingpyn, all that stuff. It needs to be booted so far away from professional boxing, and we really need to disassociate ourselves with what it is.
“It does great numbers. It’s entertainment. It’s all of those things and what we saw there [with Hemsley]. For me, what I’m trying to do and what we’ve been doing for years and years, the sacrifices people have made to be respected — again, it’s not boxing. But at the same time, I think it’s more of a reflection of society than a reflection of good or bad for boxing. I don’t like it.”
Hearn also feels the move by Hemsley is nothing but her seeking “clout” and that, ultimately, reflects current society. Hearn would much rather female boxers be seen as role models and referenced his daughter’s experiences with Katie Taylor as someone young girls can look to and aspire to be like.
“The problem today is you want kids to have great role models,” Hearn said. “I have two daughters. When my daughters spend time or have met Katie Taylor, it’s the greatest thing that I could ever see — them looking at a female who has achieved so much and shown them that anything’s possible, even when everything’s stacked against you. Anything’s possible. I think what we’re lacking in society at the moment is role models.
“Unfortunately, we now live in a world where role models, or influencers, are not necessarily doing things that the older generation, which I class myself as, or parents would want your kids to see or think is acceptable. [It’s] nothing to do with women, nothing to do with men. You want your kids to behave in a certain way. That’s not a way you’d want your kids to behave, in my opinion. This is only my opinion. But we live in a fucking mental world. Unfortunately, clout is just being chased all over the place. To each their own.”
Claressa Shields, multi-weight and twice undisputed champion, stated that Hemsley’s move was ultimately wrong, saying “Wow….. this is a step backwards for women’s boxing. Stop this shit.”