On an early evening in East San Diego, chains wrestle against punching bags inside the Gladiator School of Boxing studio as 90’s West Coast hip-hop circulates through the gym. Walking in, there are several boxers training; throwing jabs and uppercuts onto the bags, hissing with each blow. As sweat glistens on their faces and puddles drown onto the mats, many shadowbox laced in unique Adams Boxing footwear.
Designed and by Carlos Adams, one of the athletes who trains at Gladiator, Adams Boxing shoes have quickly gained the attention of pro and amateur boxers across the world. Crafted to be the most comfortable boxing shoe ever, the first pairs of the Adams Boxing AB-V1 that released sold out in less than 6 weeks last autumn. A handful of pro boxers have worn them and appeared on ESPN and HBO as well as other networks, making them highly desirable, according to Adams.
Adams sits on a leveled platform tucked in the right corner of the gym as a customer who also trains in the facility walks up to him wearing the AB-V1’s. It’s his first day breaking in the shoes and he lauds they are nothing like he’s ever had: lightweight and undeniably comfortable. Adams thanks him, widely grinning before diving into the discussion about beginning Adams Boxing.
Frustrated after a loss and broken wrist during a match in Mexico in February 2014, Adams conceived an idea to produce plush boxing gloves for not only himself, but for other boxers who struggled with comfort.
“I broke my wrist and I went home and wanted to make the world’s best boxing gloves … that was my goal,” Adams explained.
Although his initial idea was to create gloves, he transitioned to footwear spending 9 tiresome months designing the perfect boxing shoe. He traveled to factories and textile shops in Mexico to sample his idea. “Out of nowhere I was messing around with boxing concepts. I made some shoes, I did 9 months of testing. They were so light that I could sleep in them.”
The desire to craft a beneficial shoe didn’t stem from capitalizing on the market nor for fame, but to provide athletes with needed support that was flawed. Inspired by the silhouettes of vintage Everlast boxing shoes and Reebok classics, mixed in with textiles seen on Japanese boxing shoes, Adams equated the perfect boxing shoe. The AB-V1 stands tall in a boot-like form covered in leather and mesh, heavy padding and is supported by a thin plush sole.
Originally he designed the shoes for himself, but later decided to make a limited amount for distribution. From there he created an Instagram page where he sold the shoes and attracted thousands of followers. Keeping in mind the shoes were a hobby, he transitioned his motives by upgrading his hobby into a business.
A former rep for boxing company Cleto Reyes, Adams pulled clients from there to market his shoes. He used similar tactics from distributing Cleto Reyes gear to market his own product.
“The whole year and a half I worked with Reyes I only sold one shoe, one pair. And now I’ve sold over a hundred,” Adams proclaimed.
However, Adams wasn’t prepared for the success when the AB-V1 sold out in last October. Once demand skyrocketed, he knew it was the beginning of his business career.
Grabbing the attention of some celebrities such as Manny Pacquiao (and others which Adams wished not to disclose), investors and business owners, Adams has chosen to remain exclusive and independent, doing most of the work himself. However, professional skater Manny Santiago stretched his hand to aid him in marketing and some visuals. The two met when Adams was still a rep with Cleto Reyes, selling gear to Santiago. They became close friends and when Adams presented his idea to him, Santiago was on board to help.
“He told me about the idea he had about making boxing shoes. And just like skating, you want to skate in really comfortable skate shoes that work. So he has the same mission,” Santiago said. “At such a young age, he’s already envisioning making something that will change the sport of boxing; which is shoes you can actually box in and be happy.”
As of now, Adams is currently expanding the business with more footwear, apparel, and gear options. He’s focused on designs for runners and trainers, gloves, and active wear. His humbleness and dedication to serve athletes with high-quality products proves his business will trail on and thrive.
Although Adams Boxing is expanding and growing each day, Adams “still feel like it’s my hobby, not my full-time job.”