Making the Change for a Better Future
A Q&A with Christophe Dessalles
Innovation and sustainability. That’s the goal of adidas, and the man leading the mission for the boxing branch of the multinational sportswear corporation is Christophe Dessalles, managing director of Double-D/adidas Boxing, which designs and manufactures all of adidas’ combat sports equipment and apparel.
The company’s first big step in protecting the combat athlete and the environment is the Speed 350 Tilt PRO Boxing Glove, which was developed with a patented tilt design that maximizes the fighter’s hand support and strength by allowing proper knuckle alignment, and is also made with sustainable materials, including cactus leather.
The design of the Tilt 350 was developed in collaboration with hand specialists, but all of the adidas Boxing equipment and apparel are tested in a very special lab located in Riverside, California – the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, which is home to four-division titleholder Mikey Garcia, former unified junior welterweight champ Jose Ramirez, welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. and junior bantamweight standout Joshua Franco, as well as several up-and-comers.
Robert Garcia, a two-time trainer-of-the-year award winner, has spent his entire life in boxing, first as a combatant and now as a coach and mentor. His feedback and the input of his fighters is vital to the continued development of adidas Boxing equipment.
In late June, The Ring was on hand as four adidas ambassadors, including MMA legend Anderson Silva and WBO 130-pound titleholder Jamel Herring, worked out with the new Speed 350 Tilt PRO Boxing Gloves during a photo/video shoot inside the RGBA. The combat sports veterans were joined by two boxing newcomers – 19-year-old Jalan Walker (8-0-1, 7 KOs), a featherweight prospect from South Central L.A., and 22-year-old Eric Priest (4-0, 3 KOs), a Texas-born middleweight who now makes his home in Hollywood and moonlights as a model.
The Speed 350 Tilt PRO Boxing Gloves will be available in the U.S. in October and can be purchased at the official adidas Boxing website.
The Ring caught up with Dessalles to discuss the new glove and adidas’ #CombatForChange mission.
How long have you (and adidas Boxing/Double-D) been on this journey to create gloves and equipment that protects the environment and the athlete?
Our journey to create sustainable products started a few years ago and is aligned with adidas International’s strategy. We are working towards a goal to use recycled polyester in all our products by 2024, which means no PVC (polyvinyl chloride, which is a toxic chemical), no dirty polyester, and in this journey our goal is to innovate with sustainable materials to protect the environment. In boxing, our first step is with cactus leather made in Mexico. We have been working with the company for over 18 months to develop a unique sustainable material for boxing equipment, one which answers all boxers’ needs. This is only our first step as we have several other exciting sustainable projects in the pipeline.
Is it satisfying/exciting to finally be able to announce the glove innovations and Tilt Technology to the combat sports community and to the general public?
We are very excited, as all boxers and coaches who have tried the Tilt glove have been blown away by this concept and technology, which we have registered successfully in 38 countries worldwide. They all told us that they could feel the difference when using the Tilt gloves. We know that with Tilt we have something very special which will help all boxers from all levels in their path to success – sustaining dreams! Again, the Tilt launch is only the first step for 2022. We have many more innovations around Tilt, which will excite the entire combat sports community.
How important is the feedback from veteran trainers and gyms – such as Robert Garcia and his Boxing Academy – to the development of equipment like the Tilt glove? How long has Garcia been an adidas ambassador?
It is vital in our pursuit to create great products that we develop all our products with top athletes and coaches like Robert. For the Tilt development or our latest boxing shoes, which will also be made from sustainable materials, we have developed them with boxers from several countries and continents to ensure that we answer their needs to be the best that they can be. After all, our motto is “Only the best for the athletes.” Robert has been part of the team for the past couple of years and a vital player in providing feedback, advice and support in the development of our products. Our collaboration actually started with the Fight Glove we developed with (three-division champion) Abner Mares and is now used by world champions, including Jamel Herring.
I think most boxers – and even folks who just occasionally put on gloves to work out – will understand the concept of the Tilt Technology and how it supports the wrist and proper knuckle alignment, but they may not grasp the significance of the cactus leather. What are the advantages to using it instead of animal skin or synthetic materials?
As a brand, our commitment is to help the environment whilst making the best products for the athletes and boxing enthusiasts. When you look at the benefits of cactus leather vs. PU (polyurethane leather) or (animal) leather it speaks for itself. Using cactus leather helps the athlete, the planet and the human race. Here’s a few facts to remind everybody of its benefit:
The cactus plant doesn’t use much water, its metabolism protects water, it is good for the air and good for the soil it’s planted in. Cactus leather is cruelty-free, organic, biodegradable and free of phthalates, toxic chemicals and PVC.
Do you think combat athletes and exercise enthusiasts who are not environmentally conscious will come around and be more aware of and supportive of sustainability and eco-friendly products by using this new line of gloves and becoming more familiar with how we impact the environment? Is that what the #CombatForChange campaign is about?
We are humble and trying to launch the best boxing products to help the athletes and make them in a very sustainable and ethical way. We could also talk about where our products are made, as all our factories worldwide are SEA approved, which stands for “Social and Environmental Accountability.” It represents our commitment to the people who make our products, not only in the most sustainable way but also ethically! In both the boxing and combat sports industry, we can say we are a long way ahead!