The sports and fitness industry is booming in the Middle East with the growing participation of the youth and expatriates which constitute over two-thirds of the region’s population. A love of combat sports, booming fitness culture among millennial, growing media traction and upcoming big sports events has underpinned the growth of the Middle East boxing gloves market. It is estimated by research company Fact.MR that this market will cross $3 million by the end of 2018.
Home to about 150 million millennials, the Middle East has witnessed a major shift in lifestyle in terms of changing food preferences and combating rising levels of obesity. The fitness business is booming in the region and this has seen a rise in boutique fitness gyms in the region, in which boxing and kickboxing have emerged as of the popular fitness exercises. Combined with different full body workouts, kickboxing has become famous among fitness enthusiasts. With boxing gloves being an indispensable part of the sports, the gloves market is expected to rise steadily in the region.
The Middle East has hosted several boxing events in the past and some of the leading international boxing promoters – such as Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions, and many others from around the globe are dipping their toes in the region. With the leading sports vendors penetrating their roots across the world, the Middle East’s boxing industry presents a lucrative opportunity for those operating in the boxing gloves market.
Television broadcasting and digitalization is another trend impacting the promotion of boxing in the Middle East. For instance, the AIBA World Boxing Championships 2015 held in Doha, Qatar reported 500 million TV viewers worldwide. Further, growing internet subscriptions in the region have led modern sports enthusiasts to use online platforms outnumbering TV viewership. Separately, a well-received reality TV show – Fighting Fit Dubai – is returning in 2019. It portrays the lives of boxers and marks the evident popularity of boxing in the Middle East.
However, as injury rates in professional boxing matches are higher, the adoption of boxing as a career or a recreational sport as compared to other sports is lower. In addition, despite a wide viewership, boxing streaming still eschews free airwaves, categorizing the viewership on free, basic or premium cable channels with the intention to extract maximum money from avid viewers. Along with challenges of free broadcast, higher tickets for small battles as well as championships are trapping the growth of boxing in the Middle East.
While challenges of broadcast sponsorship and higher gate revenues confine popularity of boxing to the Middle East, adoption of boxing as a fitness exercise will underscore Middle East boxing glove sales in the future.