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How Oleksandr Usyk uses blockchain to punch above his weight in the boxing industry

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The world champion boxer Oleksandr Usyk is leading the boxing industry into the future with a new blockchain-based Web3 platform that connects fighters with each other and helps them grow their fan base.

Ready to Fight (RTF) calls itself the “first boxing Web3 app,” and rightly so, as it was built using blockchain and crypto technologies to help athletes find sparring matches — a need that was not previously met in the world of boxing.

Prior to RTF, finding the right sparring partner was normally solved through outdated methods of phone books and person-to-person connections.

Cointelegraph traveled to Valencia, Spain to meet up with Usyk and the RTF team to better understand why they chose to use Web3 tools to help meet the needs of the boxing community.

Oleksandr Usyk “Ready to Fight” press conference in Valencia, Spain. Source: Cointelegraph

During the press conference, Usyk explained how he had a vision for what would become this application since the beginning of his career, as it is a major need in the boxing industry when it comes to finding partners to spar with.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Usyk said:

“At the beginning of my career, there was no internet. We just found out things through going to different gyms to ask if [fighters] were ready. Now we want to make everything much more simple; just open Ready to Fight, make a few clicks, check for open gyms, and ask who is ready to spar. That’s all.”

Usyk then proceeded to show his own profile on the app, which was filled with messages from his fans and followers asking him questions directly to his inbox on his phone. Some were even asking for sparing advice.

These days, he said, all of his sparring partners were found through the RTF app, and now other teams and fighters are following suit. A successful example of this was seen at the event when we were introduced to 25-year-old Steven Torres, an amateur fighter from Reading, Pennsylvania.

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Torres described how he grew up in a disadvantaged area of the United States and didn’t have access to such environments before in his life. He found the RTF app via an Instagram ad and said getting on was “very easy.” Then that’s when the magic connections began to happen. He said:

“I uploaded videos, and they reached out to me. I matched the criteria to spar with Usyk. Being here is a blessing to spar with one of my favorite fighters. It’s a dream come true being at camp with him and getting to share the ring with him.”

The app has even allowed him to create his own fan base, accumulating more likes and support than on Instagram.

Web3 meets boxing 

When asked if he had ever interacted with crypto or Web3 before getting on the app, Torres said he was not a crypto user before RTF, but as the integrations will come in, he said the app puts him in the “right place” to begin.

Alan Duran, chief marketing officer of RTF, said that onboarding new Web3 users will be one of their major challenges with the platform.

“I think that’s our challenge as a platform — how to educate the users that come and are not crypto native. It is super important for us to be trustworthy and functional while maintaining utility for our users.”

Usyk himself reiterated that the choice to make this a Web3-based platform rather than building it using Web2 technology was that:

“We were attracted to blockchain because it is safe and convenient [to scale]. If you want to be the best, work with the best.”

Duran said that for now, the team is looking to make an impact in the boxing world with the app and then possibly take it into other sports.

“The universe could be so open to any kind of contact sports,” he said, “from MMA and karate to judo. In the end, the essence is the same: to connect people.”

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