Forbes nod for entrepreneur who began with schoolboy sweets hustle

A Coventry entrepreneur who set up a sportswear empire from his childhood bedroom has been included in this year’s prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Ben Amanna from Coventry founded boxing sportswear brand BOXRAW in 2017.

It has since dressed the likes of Michael B Jordan, Gervonta Davis, Tommy Fury and Ryan Garcia, and hit sales of £5.2 million in 2020.

Mr Amanna says he founded BOXRAW to shift boxing away from being an elitist sport, and also established Boxing Is Love, a charity that sets up boxing gyms for children in Liberia.

Coventry-based BOXRAW plans to double its 39-person team this year, but the hustle is nothing new to Mr Amanna, in fact he is an old hand.

He was running a clandestine sweet empire at his school by the age of 12, and by age 22, his first business, a garage in Coventry, made an annual turnover of £1.2 million.

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Speaking to CoventryLive fresh from hearing about his Forbes nod this week, Mr Amanna said he’s « just getting warmed up. »

« From the age of 12 I was hustling on the streets » he told CoventryLive over the phone.

« The boxing gym was my second home it took my away from a life on the streets.

« I realised boxing had the power to change the world, it did it for me, it’s very important, the importance of mindfulness.

« The vision for BOXRAW was to be why people got into boxing. »

Mr Amanna said he got into boxing at the age of 12 so he could outrun school bullies, and said his haven became Coventry’s Red Corner boxing gym on Walsgrave road.

But he also had built an acute sense of how to survive at school, and that was through buying and selling.

He started off by using his 50p emergency bus fare to buy and re-sell sherbet stick sweets.



Ben began boxing as a teenger in Coventry

Interest grew and he realised the power of the market he had cornered, and branched out from selling sweets to USBS, CDs, and IT software.

« From the age of 12 I was hustling on the streets, from my dad it was almost expected, every single week my dad would ask me how much I had made » he said.

By the time he was in year 11, the Blue Coat school student had set up an empire, getting a taste of the success that was to come.



Ben with friends at secondary school in Coventry

He then attended Bristol University, and « went from being a rich kid in secondary school to being a poor kid. »

At Bristol University he started a boxing club that gained more than 900 members with sessions over six days.

After graduating from Bristol, he returned home to Coventry and set up a garage on Walsgrave road ‘The Autohaus’.



Ben’s childhood bedroom in Coventry where he launched BOXRAW from. He recently just moved out

By the age of 22 he had achieved a £1.2 million annual turnover with Autohaus, and was driving super cars around the streets of Coventry, but things didn’t feel right.

« It brought me to a point of depression, [I was] chasing the next bit of cash for what? For the purpose of flexing on Instagram? » he said.

Mr Amanna was training for a fight at the time, and decided to set up his sportswear brand BOXRAW in 2017, a move that merged his love of boxing with his business acumen.

He told CoventryLive he is trying to shift away from boxing being an elitist sport to something that is for everyone.

« I want BOXRAW to represent an attitude to life.

« I want to be the reason why the world got into boxing, I’ve had cash, it doesn’t bring happiness, the idea of owning a space I want to dominate, I want to win. »

Selling everything from tracksuits to handwraps, BOXRAW has a 39 strong team based in Coventry, with plans to double that in the next year.



Ben with Vasyl Lomachenko in the changing rooms at Madison Square Garden ahead of his fight in 2018 that saw him become a 3-weight world champion

The US is the biggest corner of their market, occupying 40% of their sales, which is why Mr Amanna wants to open an office in New York as soon as possible.

They employ local university students, and the plan is to open a BOXRAW complex right here in Coventry.

His charitable arm, Boxing is Love, builds aims to being about change through boxing, which he has kicked off by building a community boxing gym for children in Liberia.

« We try and make the programme focus around the principles , add value to the local economy, staff the local gyms, create systematic change, knowing what boxing did for me, firmly shifted the trajectory. »

Mr Amanna has only just moved out of his mum’s house, where BOXRAW began, but says he hasn’t even scratched the surface.

« I’m living my dream, I grew up in a boxer’s space, I had posters of these guys on my walls as a kid.

« [We’ll have] every major boxer under the sun wearing the brand. »

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