Unless you’ve been living under a social media-less rock, you’ll have seen the various posts about fights due to take place between a handful of celebrities and the promotions they’ve been putting out for people to see.
The likes of TikTok and Instagram are advertising hotspots, with one post gaining enough traction to boost a profile tenfold. The types of content that people find interesting and eye-catching enough to resist the temptation to continue scrolling vary, but for the most part, we all love a bit of drama. So it’s no surprise that when an influencer starts calling someone out, we tune in and find out as much about the situation as possible.
This is the case for several social media stars who are now turning their career in a new direction: boxing matches. And by posting a threatening video luring another influencer into a match, they’ve made use of the above tactic to keep us all enthralled in the drama. Only-Fans alum Elle Brooke, was due to fight fellow content creator Astrid Wett on July 16th at an event hosted by Kingpyn Boxing until she pulled out due to safety concerns, leaving a vacant position for Brooke’s opposition.
In steps AJ Bunker, Love Island season 7 star. Bunker and Brooke are now set to hash out their online beef in what has now been dubbed a ‘grudge match’. But is it all just for show? AJ stepped in just ten days prior to the fight’s planned date, and she admitted “I’d never even heard of Elle and that’s not in a rude way – she’s a completely different sort of audience to my audience. It was never about clout chasing because for me I’ve actually fallen in love with the sport and my two previous fights have been postponed.”
The British pair aren’t the only social media stars who find themselves in this situation, however, with TikTok users Simple Simon and Ed Matthews are also set to fight under the same event alongside several other competing duos at The O2 London on July 16th. One Youtuber at the start of the year even attempted a fight with professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, with the mere talks of that match sending social media into a spiral. So why are influencers really going down this road now?
For Bunker, the fight brings an opportunity for her to “get in the ring and do something I love and get that experience”, as well as “to inspire girls to get into something they’ve never dreamed about doing before because I never thought about doing this before and I’ve fallen in love with it.”
“For me, if anything I want to influence girls, empower girls, and not even just girls, anyone who’s been bullied or trolled.”
AJ doesn’t want to go down the same route Elle has taken online, with her social media being solely aggressive spats at her opponent. Instead, she said “I love the sport but where we have seen Elle come for me, I’m not doing that. I’m not disrespecting anybody; I just want to fight. I want to do something I love; I want to continue influencing, empowering young girls and showing them something, a sport they probably hadn’t considered before”
“I get messages from girls saying they look up to me, so who would I be to turn around and trash talk someone?”
The Jump From Love Island To Boxing
Entering the show as a bombshell, she certainly turned heads and this occasion isn’t too far from her TV origins. AJ stepped in to fight last-minute, reinstating her bombshell title and she’s surprisingly feeling rather chilled about the whole scenario.
“I’m feeling quite good about it actually. At the moment I’m honestly surprisingly calm about everything and I’m doing everything I can to feel prepared for the fight.”
“I wanted to change my lifestyle. I just ended up falling in love with it. It’s definitely come as a shock, but yeah, I did not see it coming.”
“I never thought I’d get into something like fighting or combat sports but I absolutely love it.”
“I can’t wait! I’m excited! Buzzing, I can’t wait to get in there!”
The influencer expressed her reasoning behind stepping into the ring as a personal journey for herself – “I thought, at the end of last year I was going out quite a lot, I was drinking quite a lot, and if anything this is going to be really good for me. It’s going to be a really good lifestyle change, it’s gonna make me go to the gym and hopefully give me more direction.”
Training has also helped her overcome obstacles such as her anxiety, explaining “for me, the reason I didn’t use to go to the gym before was that I used to get anxiety going to the gym on my own, I just wouldn’t be able to do it. People probably look at me and think “you must go to the gym” but I literally couldn’t step foot in a gym on my own, I used to get so nervous.”
“I’m really fortunate to have a really, really good coach who’s been seeing me every single day, literally pushing me so hard. It’s been painful: I’ve had busted lips, and nosebleeds, I’ve been sick during sprints, I’ve literally been pushing my body to the absolute limit because I don’t have the time, I don’t have the luxury to take day breaks or take it easy.”
“This week now I’m not meant to be training, it’s very much you’re meant to be winding down and doing very light work so yeah, it’s been intense, but I love a challenge! I’ve loved the journey and that’s why I can’t wait to get in there.”
Overall, the career move seems to be an incredibly positive one for AJ and she’s learnt more than just the expected techniques on how to fight. “It gives you self-confidence, self-belief, it gives you this whole thing of ‘I can do it’ and gives you this inner beast you didn’t know you had. It empowers you.”
“You’ve got to take these opportunities, you’ve got to take the experiences and you’ll never know until you try it, and that’s how I live life, to be honest. I’m quite an adventurous person, quite spontaneous, I’m quite a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so for me, it’s just something I want to try.”
Despite the online remarks, her motto remains an uplifting one: “People who make those comments are nothing but haters and trolls.”
“It’s not about becoming a bit relevant because at the end of the day, I’ve got my following and I don’t need that to grow. If I want to become relevant I can find other ways to do that without needing my face to be smashed in or intense training. I’m sorry but there are other ways to stay relevant than fighting someone I’d never heard of before and putting my life at risk.”
“I think that boxing looks like quite a brutal sport, and don’t get me wrong, it is, but I hope that girls just try it, maybe not even getting in a ring, just getting some gloves on, take it on a pad because it does feel so good. For me, that’s all I want to do – just influence people into something they had never considered, because, as I said, before Love Island I never once thought about getting into something like this. I actually do love it and that’s genuinely coming from my heart!”
Tune into Kingpyn Boxing at 7pm on July 16th to watch the PPV fight.