As a musical icon, Madonna has long made her personal life a component of her art, but she has been pretty quiet about her relationship with Joshua Popper. The new couple seems to have been dating throughout 2023, but they have not spoken publicly about their connection despite lots of curiosity.
For fans of Madonna and of boxing coaches, here’s everything to know about their nascent relationship.
Who is Josh Popper?
Popper has popped up all over the place, though he is primarily an athlete. He was born in 1993 in New Jersey and graduated from Holy Spirit High School in Absecon in 2011. He went on to be a successful college athlete at Rowan University, where he played defensive lineman and eventually helped win the team a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship in 2013. In 2016, he attended the Arizona Cardinals rookie minicamp as a potential candidate for the NFL but got cut before the season began. In 2017, he briefly joined the Indianapolis Colts but got let go there as well.
He moved to NYC in 2019 and has worked as a boxing coach, eventually owning his own gym. On the Bredwinners website, Popper says he is a “lifelong athlete and a full-time coach.”
He frequently competes and in 2023, he was named the NYC Ring Masters Heavyweight Champion at Madison Square Garden. Popper also has something of an entertainment career, and is repped by modeling agency Soul Artist MGMT. He even appeared in season seven of Summer House. The show’s star Samantha Feher met him at a training session at a gym and then invited him back to the Hamptons. However, she lost romantic interest when he didn’t jump up and dance on a bar with her, according to a confessional about their night out together.
“I’m looking for the guy who will jump up on the counter and dance with me, not the guy who’s gonna watch,” she said.
Feher has said more about Popper’s potential romance with Madonna than either of them have, telling Page Six they’re still friends and she reached out to ask him about it.
“I mean, we messaged about it jokingly, like, ‘Oh, if this is true, that’s baller,’ and he’s very vague,” she said. “No one knows the truth.”
She added that it was “the coolest thing that’s ever happened to” either one of them.
How did Madonna and Popper meet?
Madonna’s son David Banda began training at Popper’s boxing gym, Bredwinners, which is located in New York City.
How long have they been together?
The exact date that their romantic relationship commenced is a bit of a mystery, but it was likely some time between Banda beginning at Bredwinners and Madonna and Popper’s first co-appearance on Instagram. In February 2023, the singer appeared in a series of photos with her alleged boyfriend after his boxing match held in Brooklyn at Gleason’s Gym.
In the caption, he wrote, “Another W for the books ‼️ I wanna thank my coaches, my team, and my Bredwinners family for pushing me to be my best in and out of the ring. I got some good people by my side.”
In March, she attended another one of his matches, and in April, they took in some music at a piano recital according to her Instagram Stories. Then, when Madonna shared that her Madonna: The Celebration Tour was going to Mexico, Popper was spotted in a dinner scene in the Instagram announcement video.
On Wednesday, December 13, they were more public than usual. Popper appeared on stage at her sold-out concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Popper helped Madonna judge a Vogue-inspired set piece called Estere’s Ball, where they judged Ballroom dancers who performed for them. She gave him a kiss on the cheek for his assistance.
Popper later shared a shot of them both holding up “10” signs to their favorite dancers on Instagram, writing in the caption, “10’s all around @madonna.”
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.