I remember growing up in the gym, they'd always have one bag which was everyone’s favourite. It was usually the one that sagged the least, had the most consistent rebound and gave the best snap, crackle and pop.
Three years ago, I started working on the BOXRAW bag in an effort to address the long-standing challenges that had plagued the boxing community for decades...
The majority of bags, if not all, suffer from the same disease of weight drop where over time the filling falls to the bottom, meaning the top feels like a pillow and the bottom feels like concrete. It ruins the experience of hitting a bag because inevitably you have to vary the power and tempo of punches depending on which punch you throw.
Most bags are filled by hand and then feet, meaning that it's inevitable that over time, as the bag takes more punishment and gravity does its job, you're left with a deformed bag that can cause over-extensions or broken wrists.
Everyone loves the look of beaten bag with tape around it but, actually, it's a frustrating thing to have to deal with from the perspective of having to use so much tape that the bag doesn't split again and then ensure you've refilled it to the same standard you received it.
The latter often never happens meaning that it seems to have become just one of those widely accepted things in boxing. This was something I had a problem with.
I hated with a passion when you hit a bag and you didn't get any recoil, feedback or slap. It's the same when you're hitting pads - you yearn for the bang and regardless of how hard or fast you've thrown the punch, it empowers you to push that much harder.
Some bags were simply filled with the wrong materials or didn't have a layer on the inside to absorb punches, meaning despite your hardest efforts, it sounds like you're jumping on the sofa.
Finally, I felt like bags should be viewed as functional art. Outside of the boxing glove, they're probably the most iconic piece of equipment that a boxer uses, yet all of them looked the same and no one seemed to be innovating or stylistically trying to make even a marginal improvement.
The first step was to develop the foundations of the bag - the straps and buckles. I wanted the bags to be something that you were proud to show off, whether in a gym or at home so from the get-go - the buckles, rivets and straps had to be elite. A real heavy bag needed to weigh anywhere between 80-130kg, but with the added load from punching, the load could be anywhere up to 250kg.
I learned this the hard way. I spent some time developing a buckle but only took into account the load of the bag in insolation of the effects of punching. I ordered 10,000 of them to then later get a call from Spencer McCracken to tell me some of the buckles on the 150kg Fatman Bag had broken.
After more research, we realised that because of the triangular shape, the load was dispersed unevenly to specific stress points on the buckle, meaning we needed something 4.5x as thick and made from steel - not a zinc alloy like before.
Next, I looked at the materials that we'd use. I toyed with the idea of leather but the more research I did, I realised that no matter how great the leather was, even after treatment, it was eventually going to tear after years of thrashing with different types of gloves and going through multiple weather cycles.
These bags were going to be an investment for our customers and something we wanted them to proudly show off. While leather was traditionally associated with quality and the heritage of boxing, it didn't make sense.
We got to work on developing a microfiber that used a polyurethane substrate to create a three-dimensional mesh structure that could outlast any leather or PVC bag on the market but also be easy to clean.
Behind the leather, I wanted to add a layer of foam to help absorb some of the impact but also to help with the consistency of rebounds because inevitably the internal fabric would drop even when using a machine to fill it.
We tested loads of different foams for the optimal slap but in the end, we developed our own 10mm EVA foam for the perfect response when throwing heavy shots. Something not so hard that it would jolt your wrists but not so soft that it wouldn't give you the dynamic rebound required.
Finally, we had to find a solution for the sagging - the ultimate L when it came to bags. We tried different options to fix this but landed on the concept of using an internally closed, circular steel frame to mount at the top to maintain the bag’s shape.
This was a lengthy and expensive feature to test due to the placement of the ring. I didn't want it to be visible and take away from the traditional look of a heavy bag and that made it harder to mount and secure under stress.
After six months of testing, we finally found a technique to secure the steel while still allowing for a zip closure to enable more fabric to be added in time if it was necessary.
After three years of relentless research and development in the tireless pursuit of perfection, our range of bags will outlast, outcompete and outperform any bag on the market.