The posters for the inaugural Nothing But Trouble White-Collar Boxing Evening looked great, but there was some mumbled perplexity too. For those still puzzled, white-collar boxing is when men and women in normal office jobs belt each other for their own entertainment and for that of a tipsy crowd of partygoers. And it makes for a great evening.
The sport, said to be the fastest growing corporate contact sport in the world, first came to prominence in New York in the mid-1990s, and while most of the contestants have no prior boxing experience, they often undergo intensive training for up to 3 months before fight night. Being from the corporate world, there tends to be excellent equipment, coaching and refereeing involved to ensure the participants’ safety.
The first Cape Town example of white-collar boxing (that I was aware of) kicked off to a perfect start on Saturday evening at The Side Show Club on Mechau Street (formerly the Fez). The brainchild of businessman Hamish Bruce, the evening was in aid of Dare to Share, which provides food, shelter, support and security to Cape Town’s street children.
With a 1920’s prohibition theme along with a raffle, live music and top Cape Town DJs such as James Copeland there was plenty of entertainment to look forward to, and guests enthusiastically responded to the call to come dressed to the theme. The smooth jazzy sounds of The Dixie Swingers Jazz Band welcomed guests as they entered, and there was plenty of time for a few drinks and some gossip before the boxing began.
The set up in and around the ring was similar to that of professional boxing, with the ring announcer clad in formal attire and ring models in tiny skirts holding up boards indicating the rounds. Each corner had a coach and assistant who enthusiastically encouraged their boxers and gave technical advice. And as with professional boxing matches, lights and music added more glamour and interest.
The first fight match of the night saw Anya “Angry Bird” Klassen come toe-to-toe with Kate “Ko Katie” Ackerman. The two ladies gave good account of themselves as they exchanged blows in an entertaining match. Bouts were three two-minute rounds with no winner declared after each fight, but Kate was the winner for me, showing more composure and technical ability as she moved around the ring, constantly jabbing.
The second bout featured Roberto “Duran” Dionisio versus David “The Fast & Furious” Fox. Both boxers gave a spirited performance and showed great footwork and agility around the ring as they exchanged jabs and uppercuts receiving rowdy applause and encouragement from spectators on the opposite corners.
Probably the most interesting fight was the contest between Craig “The Viking” Stack and “Ashes”. The odds favoured Ashes for his crushing physique and the intimidating tattoos across most of his upper body. But The Viking wasn’t to be easily cowed and he took on Ashes with gusto. Ashes retaliated with class and character and at often times put The Viking under pressure. With the excitement building, fans for both boxers were jeering, shouting and booing as the two boxers exchanged blows and jabs. This bout had all the characteristics of a grudge match but at the end of the third round both boxers hugged as they received applause from an appreciating audience.
Other matches included James “Jimbo Unchained” Classen versus Wade “The Wolf” Skinner; Michael “Big City” Bullard versus Andrew “The Lumberjack” Wood; Ross “The Pikey” D’arcy versus Jerome “Fat Frank” Sheed and the last bout was between the crowd favourite Michael “The Big Cat” Prince up against Shaun “The Black Sheep” Clarke.
The boxing finished well before the crowd’s enthusiasm, serving merely to set the adrenalin pumping into the early hours. A superb evening with a difference.
The inaugural Nothing But Trouble White Collar Boxing Evening took place at The Side Show Club on 13 July 2013.