Urban Fitness League Will Launch With World Cup In Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Urban Fitness League will launch Tuesday on Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., with its World Cup. The event will serve as a showcase for extreme calisthenics athletes, with a U.S. team facing a World team. Int’l athletes will represent Brazil, Serbia and the U.K., among others. The competition will highlight the convergence of creative calisthenics with extreme body weight exercises. UFL CEO Ben Sturner said, “The league’s very unique because of its integration with sport and music and style.” The World Cup will feature individual exercise battles on customized urban equipment as well as freestyle contests incorporating music that will be judged on creativity, endurance, form, strength and style. UFL Dir of Content Rain Bennett said, “The one thing that differentiates this culture from other fitness cultures that are similar is the creativity. It’s an art form.”
Sturner, along with former NFL SVP of Events Frank Supovitz, former National Lacrosse League Commissioner George Daniel and former HBO Sports exec David Itskowitch, will manage the UFL. “This is something that’s very global. It’s being practiced in Europe, all over the Middle East and China,” Sturner said. “We have people coming from Serbia, we have someone coming from Spain, from London, Brazil, Belgium — these athletes are hand-selected, so we have the best in the world.”
The UFL will launch in ’18 with at least six franchises, each of which will be independently owned. The franchise bid process will begin soon after the World Cup. Factors that will be considered in the process include the popularity of urban fitness in each prospective city, partnership commitment and venues. “One of the things that will be unique is that each franchise will have a captain that resonates within their community,” Sturner said. Former NBA basketball player Stephon Marbury, who has spent seven seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association, will be president of UFL China. “I’ve seen it growing up, so I’m not a novice to this,” Marbury said. “It’s not something that’s new. Calisthenics isn’t new. It’s just in a form and structure that will allow people to know about it.” Other int’l UFL influencers include former MLB player David Ortiz, from the Dominican Republic, and fitness professional Simeon Panda, of the U.K., who will be coaching the World team at Tuesday’s World Cup.
Turkish Airlines will be the official sponsor of the UFL World Team. Other sponsors include sports drink Body Armor, food brand Health Warrior and Ojo Scooter. The UFL is currently negotiating deals for automotive, telecom and insurance sponsors. The league recently worked with LIFT Marketing on its brand development. Former NBA Senior Dir of Int’l Programming Stephanie Schwartz is handling merchandising, with UFL apparel being sold online and at shops that will be set up at the event.
Source: UFL In advance of the UFL World Cup, Bennett has been filming a global seven-part documentary following UFL athletes and telling their stories in and out of competition. The league also partnered with broadcast platform Livestream and will be streaming the event on its website. It will feature an eight-camera shoot, coordinated by Bennett and Harry Cicma Production, to showcase the spectacle for potential TV partners. Urban fitness events have been televised in Europe on Eurosport, and the UFL is looking to capitalize on the popularity of the movement by using the World Cup as its pilot. ESPN Int’l will cover the league in the Caribbean, Australian and Asia-Pacific markets, while the UFL is currently in negotiations for TV partners in Europe and South America.
The UFL World Cup will commence at 6pm on Tuesday at the Ford Amphitheater on Coney Island. Sturner hopes to use it to create a global fitness enthusiasm. “This sport is accessible all around the world,” Sturner said. “We want this World Cup to be a tradition. … We want to grow it and we want to have UFL-branded countries.”