Boxing  

AJ’s star power brings Globacom back into sports sponsorship

Anthony Joshua

It took five years and four months for telecommunications giants Globacom to sign a new sports brand ambassador when it unveiled unified world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua at the beginning of the month.

The last time the company had a major sports personality as a brand ambassador was Victor Moses in 2013.

Since then, Globacom has eased itself away from sports sponsorship. Contracts with the Confederation of African Football, the Nigeria Football Federation, the Nigerian national football teams, Manchester United and the Nigeria Professional Football League all ran down without renewals as the company shifted its focus to entertainers, actors, singers and comedians.

The global rise of Joshua, a Briton of Nigerian descent from the town of Sagamu, has propelled Globacom back into the sports market. Joshua’s clean boy image has endeared him to top global brands like Under Armor, Beats by Dre, British Airways and Lucozade.

Little wonder that Globacom decided to tap into his brand and fierce pride for Nigeria with a one-minute commercial where the boxer talks about his roots and his success in the ring.
Like the typical rags to riches story, Joshua claimed to have reached the top of his sport by being tenacious despite all the “hard knocks” that life has thrown at him. “I can’t carry these heavyweight titles by myself, there’s always got to be someone in my corner.

That’s why I believe in Glo. We have that same tenacity, that Nigerian fighting spirit that makes us game changers,” Joshua said in the commercial. “You have to think deep to be a world champion. We Nigerians, yeah we know all about that,” he concluded.

The fact that Globacom has chosen to tap into the Joshua magnetism could mean many things. Since becoming a global sensation after his victory over Vladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium in 2017, the 29-year-old has not hidden his love for his roots. But he has not visited Nigeria despite visits to Jamaica and Dubai as he has kept his sights on greater glory by working to unite the heavyweight division as the undisputed world heavyweight champion.

Joshua continues to be a magnet for brands that see him as a very approachable and marketable superstar.

The 29-year-old is well-spoken, respectful (he visited Alexander Povetkin in his dressing room and bowed his head in respect after his technical knockout of the hard-hitting Russian in March 2018), good looking and could be on his way to breaking into the billion dollars earnings mark according to The Drum.

He has sold out more than 300,000 tickets during his last four fights at the Wembley and Principality stadiums.

He was ranked the most marketable athlete in the world in 2017 by SportsPro and finished number two in 2018 (behind Manchester United’s Paul Pogba).

He has cultivated his well-oiled image painstakingly, making use of social media to engage his 13.2m followers and sharing beautiful behind-the-scenes look at his life off the court.

His YouTube channel is also growing as he curates top HD videos of his pre-match activities.

In short, AJ is a cutting-edge brand. His well-chosen appearances, his brilliant social content all show he knows what he is doing.

First off, Joshua will defend his four titles against undefeated US boxer Jarrell Miller at the Madison Square Garden on June 1st.

It is a fight that has already broken pre-sale records at the MSG for a boxing fight. And with Miller shoving and bad-mouthing AJ at the first press conference this week, it is setting itself up to be a glamorous affair.

How will Glo make use of this fight to promote its partnership? Would we be seeing Joshua on a visit to Nigeria in the near future supported by his partners?

Is this a sign that Glo would be taking a closer look at sports in Nigeria and bringing its financial muscle to sponsor young boxers and boxing events? It is not enough to put in billions into a partnership with an already established athlete, in what ways will the company impact the domestic sports community from where its profits come? Globacom must commit to helping develop Nigerian sport by committing some of its profit into grassroots initiatives that can help us find the next Anthony Joshua from the Sagamu hinterlands.

Otherwise, young Nigerian sports people will continue to feel that there is no place for their dreams in this land. Globacom needs to become a game changer in domestic sports.

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