There was a time in the boxing world when boxers fought bare-knuckled. The focus of the sport was not necessarily on safety as much as it was on a shocking spectacle. In the years following, however, boxing has evolved beyond the bare-knuckled brawls of the past into a showcase of highly-trained athletes that require top-notch fighting equipment in order to safely and effectively compete at a top level.
Ozzie Akcakaya learned the value of quality boxing equipment as he began to box as a hobby and as a way to stay healthy. An internationally certified personal trainer and currently award winner pharmaceutical sales executive, Akcakaya had a clear thought when he began to learn the difference between “good” and “bad” gear — boxing deserves better.
As he told On the Ropes, “I didn’t find anything good enough, boxing gloves always had something nice and bad about them. I wanted to make an ergonomic padding that gives me a compact fit but also protection and durability on the bag, and that’s where ‘boxing deserves better’ comes from.” Both the padding and the entire construction of the glove had to be ergonomic with the principles of throwing and how the knuckles land on target.
Creating safer boxing equipment
Ozzie enlisted the help of his wife Alaina, a marketing and industrial organization expert who specializes in ergonomics, to expand on his idea of creating boxing products that offered a realistic experience without the bad habits that boxers often pick up from the use of subpar equipment. The result was HITNMOVE®, a line of boxing gloves and other equipment designed to be the safest, most comfortable, and ergonomic for elite athletes and beginners alike.
Ozzie and Alaina entered the boxing space with innovation at the forefront. An experience with Mayweather Promotions fighter Jalil Hackett got Ozzie thinking about safety, comfort, and precision movements with the standard 24oz conditioning glove. “I asked him why he was using a watermelon-sized glove,” Ozzie says. Hackett explained he used that size for conditioning due to the heavier weight.
Ozzie knew he could improve on the technology and do better for boxing. The company’s proprietary DR-T (aka “Dart”) Tech padding helps make HITNMOVE® gloves comfortable and durable for training. In the past, precise movements were difficult due to the massive bulk of the conditioning gloves, but the DR-T Tech created for both HITNMOVE®’s 24oz and 16 oz gloves offer greater protection for the boxer.
“Hackett wasn’t able to hit the [punching] bag or mitts properly because his gloves were so big,” Ozzie recalls. “It gave me the idea to make a weighted dart padding which ultimately became our innovative DR-T padding technology. The gloves have heavier padding but are the same size as the padding we use in 16oz gloves. After six months of trial and error, we were able to make our 24oz gloves the same size as regular 16oz ones.”
Another safety issue that was a cause for concern for the HITNMOVE® team was the training standard of shadowboxing, or practicing, with dumbbells. This technique can be dangerous and is not recommended in most professional or semi-professional circles. It is important, however, to choose the right amount of weight when one is shadowboxing, for safety reasons as well as to pay heed to the interior focus of the punching movement.
Through their research, HITNMOVE® has found that the ideal weight for punching training is between 1.5 to 2 lbs. They ultimately decided to go with a 1.5 weight for their new glove, which has an equal distribution of weight and ergonomics to be exactly what boxers need for training and safety purposes.
Bringing technology and innovation where it’s needed
For decades, boxing equipment innovation stayed relatively stagnant. As sports science and technology evolved, boxing stayed mired in the past, with equipment that was too bulky, did not provide a realistic experience during training, or was just generally unsafe. Ozzie recognized this innovation desert in the boxing world and was determined to focus his efforts on making things better.
One area of innovative focus for HITNMOVE® has been a redesign of the focus mitt, which is the mitt the boxing coach uses while the boxer is training. It is the ultimate tool for every boxing coach, but the design of the piece of equipment has remained stagnant for decades. With the old mitt design, coaches were not able to create accurate, real-world angles for body shots. Instead, they had to twist their arms to position the palm section of the regular mitt under their arms or expose the back of their hands to the body jabs.
Ozzie, with his knowledge of anatomy and physiology — not to mention his National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS) Level 4 certifications — recognized the anatomical danger that coaches were placing themselves in. Throughout his research, as HITNMOVE® worked with orthopedic specialists on a redesign, Ozzie discovered that many coaches end up with elbow and wrist pain from holding the old mitts.
Oddly enough, it was a turtle that was the turning point for the mitt design. One day while out on a run, Ozzie observed a turtle crossing the road. Seeing the animal’s protective shell, the idea of how to improve on the old focus mitt design came to him. The result of Ozzie’s tireless research (and his run-in with the turtle) was Turtle Mitts. These mitts are designed from orthopedic EVA foam to absorb the impact of punches and protect the coach’s wrists and elbows from impact and injury.
With a laser focus on the importance of safety, comfort, and precision movement for boxers, Ozzie and Alaina have disrupted the boxing world with HITNMOVE®. Ozzie hopes their various pieces of equipment harken back to a time when it wasn’t about making a quick buck with low-quality boxing products, but bringing quality to the ring. They stand by their mantra of “Boxing Deserves Better” and that belief goes into each and every product they bring to the market.