Suzi Wong - The Art of Boxing

The ring walk - a time when as a fan you can make an immediate judgement as to how a fighter looks.  Are they drained or have they put on too much weight since the weigh in?  Are they confident, bouncing on their toes and embracing the crowd - or more of a shrinking violet, head down and in the zone?  Then there is the ring attire.  Flashy and bold, or understated and blending in?  What viewers may not realise is the lengths gone to by fighters to ensure they look and feel the part come fight night - well, we decided to speak to the people behind the outfits to find out more about what goes in to the presentation of a fighter when they take the centre of the ring.
 
Suzi Wong are the go-to company for fight wear.  Having been in the sports design industry for over 30 year, it is 15 years since they branched off into specialising in boxing clothing.  So how did the link up come about?  Over to Melissa Anglesea of Suzi Wong:  "My Dad John was working for a sports company designing and dealing with sponsorships at the time.   They were sponsoring a boxer and the shorts available for personalisation were not good, we decided to make our own after being involved in manufacturing all our lives.  It took on from here, with the likes of Ricky Hatton, Michael Gomez, Anthony Farnell, Carl Thompson, all local fighters wearing the kit and here we are today."
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director
  5. Managing Director
Suzi Wong are a family business, who are based out of their studio in Lancashire.  The names they have mentioned thus far may all be synonymous with the West side of the Pennines, but how far reaching are the Suzi Wong products?  "We ship internationally weekly from both our online shop where we offer ready made shorts with customisation at great prices or custom.  We ship to US and Australia regularly and have a great following over there, plus most European countries.  We are the only specialist boxing short makers in the country and we are very proud of this.  Of course we get asked to make Thai boxing shorts, kick boxing and MMA, but we stick to what we know works."
 
Suzi Wong cater for the very elite fighter through to those that have just started in the sport.  Shorts can be made to customised design, including names, colours and designs.  So what is the start to finish process when it comes to the design and making of the all important clothing?
 
"Generally I am given a colour they want to work to, I will send fabric samples if requested and then a copy of different designs I think will suit the fighter" says Melissa.  "Some come with particular styles in mind, but most trust us and are always happy with the final outcome.    
We work with many different materials since we started out just making satin shorts - we now make shorts from velvets, suedes, leatherette, satin, sparkle, faux furs and faux snakeskins."
  
Quite the leap from the first set of satin shorts then.  But has there ever been a fighter come to them that has created too much of a challenge to be emblazoned on a boxer?  "No we can do anything, we are skilled designers, manufactures and creatives, we can always do something someone has in mind, its just a matter or time and price if someone wants something really specialised.
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director
So once the needle and thread are put away and the fighter is back in camp, is there an affitinity grown towards the individual?  "Of course, we are trusted with the ringwear for some of the fighters biggest nights, so over the years we will have seen them grown from young kids to mature men and women, fighting for world titles on the biggest stages under the bright lights of TV.  We become friends with the fighters, know them on  a personal level and this helps to know what a figher wants, as you then start to understand there style.  Its fantastic to be part of all their journeys."   
  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
With major fights being screened to thousands, if not millions, around the world there is a need to get the look right.  For instance, the Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather fight in the US alone generated 920,000 PPV purchases.  That is a lot of homes to have your product broadcast to, plus the millions internationally.  So was that the highest profile event Suzi Wong have been involved in?  "Yeah, I would have to say Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather as this no doubt grosses the views on TV.  Or there is George Groves vs Carl Froch in recent time where both fighters wore our kit in from of 80,000 at Wembley."
 
Finally, as a designer are there any particular favourites that Melissa has worked with over the years?  "I couldn't single out any one individual.  But I do like to work with fighters who like something different that the norm, this would include James Degale, Kal and Gamal Yafai, Charlie Edwards, Callum Smith, Sam Egginton, Brian Rose.   There are always great to work with and like to try new fabrics and styles, which is great fun for me when designing."
 
So there you have it - the life of a boxing kit designer.  Fighters have a high pressured job when stepping out in front of millions of TV screens in Vegas, or 80,000 at Wembley - now you can spare a thought for the people who have made sure they look the part.
 
Many thanks to Melissa of Suzi Wong for her time.  To check out their full portfolio and range head to www.suziwong.co.uk