Note: This article was originally written for Rough Asia and was published on 2 July 2018.
There is an endearing humility about Muay Thai brand, Boon Sport that you don’t get from most other fight brands. The big boys and competitors in the fight gear industry continually try to outdo each other with flashy designs and excessively slick marketing. Boon on the other hand, has elected to focus intently on refining their craftsmanship with a staple range of back-to-basics products. The brand’s modus operandi is as earnest as their signature brown boxing gloves – no-frills style that relies on expert craftsmanship and word-of-mouth.
Started in 2002 by founder Scott Marr with his wife in Bangkok, the couple started by selling Muay Thai and boxing shorts on eBay. The internet was fairly new to Thailand at the time so the conditions were ideal for starting an online business. Scott soon found a niche in custom Muay Thai shorts when they began to receive numerous requests for the service. Things were exceedingly hands-on for the founders in the company’s early days. Scott recounts,
“My wife took a sewing course, along with her sister. For a while there was five of us living and sewing in a tiny two-bedroom house in Bangkok.”
When an order for 500 pairs of custom shorts came in the email, the entrepreneurs took the plunge. They rented a building and Boon Sport was officially established. There were hiccups during the starting phase like all businesses but the brand has made a steady climb into a household name among Muay Thai fans worldwide.
Born and raised in Australia, Scott has been living in Thailand since 1994. He started training Muay Thai shortly after the move and even has a couple of fights to his name. Despite having no prior experience in the sports industry, he dived into the fight gear business backed by his passion for the sport and an enterprising spirit.
“I have always liked to build things with my own hands, that might be one of the reasons why we started Boon,” he explained.
Today, Boon has grown from the initial party of five to a modest family-run business hiring around 30 full-time employees. Despite the growth, the founders are still very involved in the whole operation. The company continues to be managed by Scott and his wife, both of whom oversee product design and manufacturing at 2 factories located in central Bangkok.
Boon’s gear and equipment have come a long way over the years due to feedback from fighters and coaches in gyms in Thailand and worldwide. Their products are sought after by Muay Thai purists and connoisseurs who favor the minimalist style and premium quality.
“We have always been about simplicity and quality! Nothing fancy, just back-to-basics quality. This is reflected in our choice of materials, such as our premium leathers, which I think make us stand out from other brands,” he said proudly.
In Thai language and culture, the word “Boon” means to make merit or to do good. It is the earliest Muay Thai brand to embrace the sport’s roots and culture by opting for a Thai name. Scott explains the rationale behind the choice of the name,
“We were looking for a meaningful name which suits what we do and where we come from. We think practicing Muay Thai and any other combat sports does good for the individual.”
The motivation behind the brand’s auspicious name has translated to real life philanthropy. Instead of consolidating its marketing efforts by partnering with big names in the industry, Boon chooses to sponsor many small gyms in the country. Without seeking any form of return or recognition, this has been the practice since day one. Scott shares,
“Over the years we’ve given quite a bit of gear and equipment to small gyms around the country, including several in Buriram. Muay Thai has always been an important part of Thai culture, I think it’s important to try to preserve that and also give kids some options for recreation.”
Scott credits the brand’s success to being at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. Perhaps some might attribute the success to positive karmic effects as a result of the company’s merit-making in supporting the Muay Thai community.
An online shop was finally launched last November, making the complete Boon catalog more accessible to an international audience. New products including new glove models and apparel pieces are in the works and will be added to the portfolio shortly. Demand for the expanding range of products is growing but Boon’s vision statement remains.
“Our ambition is to become the most trusted premium authentic Muay Thai brand recognized for its quality and craftsmanship. We are working on it!”
In the eyes of many of the brand’s loyal fans, Boon Sport may have already arrived.
Editor’s note: Click here to read my review of Boon Sport Boxing Gloves.