2010-2020 at the helm of Fighting Fit White Collar Boxing Part 1 – the undisputed truth, told from my perspective
By Neil Perkins
I wrote this blog whilst on a family holiday over New Year 2020. Social media was awash with 10 year images and breakdowns of the ‘past 10 years’ and I was inspired to write a quick blog on the subject above. It turned into a day and 96-hour journey into my mind and the past 10 years. This has made me realise that I’ve had more “work fulfilment” in the past 10 years than most have in their lifetime. If you speak to me about the history of my shows that I am truly passionate about what I have done and what I continue to do. I’d like think that everyone who’s boxed on my shows has learnt and developed form their experience? Here is to the ultimate boxer experience and continuing to develop people through boxing for the next 10 years….and beyond.
I thought I’d share my last 10 years at the helm of Fighting Fit White Collar Boxing. Told with my own brutal honesty and as always told entirely from my own perspective, I’m sorry if the bouts I’ve chosen to mention may have not mentioned bouts that you witnessed or boxed in. On many shows, I am organising back-stage, warming someone up or even on occasion throwing someone out of the venue! All the coaches and boxers will have special memories from shows, here is my recap of the last 10 years.
Our shows at Fighting Fit have always unveiled characters and I truly believe that the experience of fight camp and competing makes the participants better people. It tests their resolve, their grit and pushes them beyond their comfort zone. I’ve always said that if you aren’t in over your head, you will never know how tall you are. What the shows have taught me is those that have ‘lost’ a contest, learn more and get out of the Fight Camp experience than those who ‘win’ their contest. If the shows are good, the after parties have been better. A sense of euphoria, endorphins and camaraderie that can not be described – only felt. When I look at the history that I’ve helped create, these aren’t ‘boxers’, they are accountants, solicitors, barristers and police officers – becoming fitter and stronger than ever before and taking part in an experience they will never forget, that is special.
On October 2nd 2009, I was sensationally knocked out in Prizefighter 3, the Heavyweights. This show, live on Sky Sports not only launched Eddie Hearn’s career at the helm of Matchroom boxing, it signified the end of my fighting days. Like a crack addict going back for one more pull on the pipe, I flirted with boxing a few times since, signed promotional agreements and then realised I didn’t want to become permanently damaged. The hole in my chin where my bottom teeth came through causing 10 stitches after a sparring session finally signalled the end of my fighting days – except for a few cameo appearances.
It was Prizefighter or Matchroom that gave me a taste of ‘big promotions’ and my goal was to use one of my tag lines I’ve used since
‘To put Sunday League Level Boxing on a Premier League level platform’
The term ‘Boxer Experience’ was born in my mind. For my next show, I was back at an old stomping ground for March 2010 – Oceana Nightclub. It had been named other venues previously and has been named other venues since. I was their as Claire Sutton was corporate events manager, we’d met years previously when I was doing security at Fitness First as she was Sales Manager. Clare knew me as a doorman, saw me evolve into a Personal Trainer and in 2010 we were looking at 350 people at a show and I was excited about my biggest show – Clare has seen me develop a lot in 10 years since 2010!
Fresh Blood Friday, Oceana Nightclub, March 2010
With the experience of being a superstar whilst boxing on Prizefighter I thought I’d spice up my participants and looked at my production. The idea was born for pre-fight video’s – a very expensive cost. With the big screens at Oceana we played the pre-fight build-up of every contest before they walked out to box, it was a big place in our evolution. It was website designer Dan Ricardo (he built this website) who was the stand out of the show Rciardo was pitted against sales manager Jason Arnold who’d boxed extensively as an amateur for the reputable West Ham Boys, Ricardo who inherited the name the Latina Assassin (why and where I do not know why because he is Jewish) boxed superbly and showed an ability to adapt that most top pro’s would struggle to do. The show ‘Fresh Blood Friday’, was full of ‘fresh blood’ and it also birthed a new idea to those that have watched amateur boxing – you don’t always put the big guys last. It was age v youth, pressure fighter v boxer and accountant v teacher in Nigel Hood v Joe Phillips. What a contest that ended a draw and I’d say – the best bout I’d put on a show yet (to that point)! Fresh Blood Friday saw in excess of 350 tickets, it was a new level of success and the production had attracted more persons onto our next show. If Fresh Blood Friday saw our production go to new levels, the after party at the Jam House where we drank them of champagne set a precedent for the next 10 years partying!
Broad Street Bash, Gatecrasher Nightclub, October 2010
I’ve learnt over the years that characters make shows. Broad Street Bash has more characters than any show I’ve put on prior or since. We’d switched venues and as much as I loved Oceana, this was our first ‘Super Show’ (500+ people) and Oceana would have burst at the seams, we moved to Gatecrasher as Claire Sutton had moved their now – we continued to evolve together. It was not a good start to life at Gatecrasher for Claire and with the infamous Simon Raine in charge of the club, we had to start early and be out early, the GM sprung it on as late notice and he was lucky to escape the venue without me ending up on a section 18 charge (that’s another story). Broad Street Bash had it all!. Tim Hufton opened the card to out-boxed jeweller Russell Jones following my instruction and the game plan to the letter to make me very proud, mortgage advisor Ed Clarke was squeezed out by IT worker Andy Jones, John Wright went head, body head to outpoint ‘The Polish Hammer’ solicitor Joseph Kotrie-Monson, policeman Arron Bell squeezed out Researcher Tim Pratt and we had Joe Wilson v Kevin Saunders, where Joe out hustled Kevin. The Latin Assassin Dan Ricardo brought the noise and carnival atmosphere. His supporters bellowing the song
‘Ricardo! He come from Jerusalem, he’s going to fuck him up’
It wasn’t a moody crowd and it was a jovial atmosphere. But for Ricardo to perform he had to outpoint a strong foe. The heavy handed third year Sports Student Anthony Rogan was the ideal nemesis. Again, I don’t know how, but he finds a way to win. Anthony Rogan has shown me to be as good a competitor as anyone I know in the past 10 years – Ricardo moved to 2-0 with another good victory
Now legendary UFC cutsman Bod Plant worked back-stage and we had the Davies ‘Terrible Twins’ (Llewy & Rhys) bringing their madness to the occasion. It was an epic show and a brilliant fight camp, it was the first time we’d utilised the ‘teams’ and fight camps. The Red Team of 2010 probably had one of the greatest senses of camaraderie we’d ever experienced.
Christmas Crunch, Oceana Nightclub, December 2010.
Shows are always like economies and for every boom, you have a bust. We had 500+ people at Broad Street Bash – our biggest show yet. Christmas Crunch was only 2 months later, and it turned out that is too short a distance between bouts. It had less than 100 tickets and four bouts scheduled when I agreed to give local property developer James Dickens some ‘competitive rounds’ before he boxed amateur. Ever the showman I swigged beer in between rounds and wound back the clock I played with the man mountain in a 3 rounds exhibition. This is after setting up a venue, running a show and cornering solicitor Gavin Tansley, who was narrowly beaten due to a blip in concentration and gearing away from the game plan against Michael Roberts. This is the downside of promoting, this show cost me £800 to put on. I got punched in the face for some debt, but we put on another entertaining night out.
The lesson learnt was that you need big characters and big volume if boxers for a show to work, this one had neither – except me!
Blood on the Canvas, Oceana Nightclub, March 2011
My work in 2010 paved the way for 2011 and good things started to come my way. I had No5 Barristers Chambers show lined up for the summer and they’d already started training. Blood on the Canvas in March had an air of anticipation around it, with Broad Street Bash (Oct’10) fresh in the mind. Prior to the show I met the managing director from Stave-Con Matt Davies (the Warhorse) for the first time. I remember him coming in the gym asking about sparring and I looked at this mad man who was happy to ‘jump in with anyone’ and every bit of my gut instinct told me ‘this guy will never come back?’ – how wrong I was! Matt elected to work with new personal trainer Anthony Rogan, now successfully competing as an amateur boxer and as a personal trainer. I still recall Anthony been more nervous than Matt as I seconded his corner to supervise the action – I have never seen a cornerman shake so much as he poured water into Matts mouth. Anthony was ecstatic when Matt beats Steve ‘Zippy’ Want (named Zippy, because like Zippy out of Rainbow because he never shuts up). We had visitors at the show form No5 chambers, they were nervous about their upcoming event with us. What happened in the final bout nearly cost me my July show with No5, but like all my adversities – it made my better and stronger.
I was in Tim Hufton’s corner against the Latin Assassin Dan Ricardo. As a ‘promoter’ it was hard sell, everyone except me and Tim believed Tim could win. As a coach it tested me to the max and I observed Ricardo’s excellent reflexes and superb counter punching – we just gave him nothing to counter. Tim executed the game plan to perfection, and he was coasting two rounds in. I am not one to make excuses as Tim’s loss not only enabled me to learn and massively enhance my brand – it made folk law legend.
In the final round and having been outboxed, Ricardo did what top sportsman do, he changed the play and pressed forward. With 40 seconds to go and trailing by 8-points on the live score boards, Ricardo’s right had crashes on Tim’s chin and his tired legs buckle and he is reminiscent of Frank Bruno against Mike Tyson– candle in the wind starts playing in my head. Now for those of you who know amateur boxing, the referee should give a standing eight count for a big shot? On our score that is 1 point for the punch and 1 point for the count + 8 seconds to recover. Tim would have had 8 seconds to recover, I’d have made an excuse about the headguard to the ref and ripped the velcro off the back (you’ll see this is party piece of my coaches as you read on) and as soon as he walked over to the corner forcing me to re-fit it (gamesmanship). By the time the timekeeper is instructed to pause time there is 20 seconds left and he’s had 60 seconds recovery – now he hold on for 20 more seconds for a win against the Latin Assassin (I still don’t know where that name came from) and Tim becomes a living legend – that is if you know boxing and your using an experienced and vetted referee – I wasn’t! Now when that right hand did crash on Tim’s chin, his tired legs buckled and candle in the wind plays in my head as he rocks like Bruno against Tyson laid up on the ropes, unfortunately candle in the wind didn’t finish playing and the punches didn’t stop flowing. For 32 more seconds punches reigned in on Tim, volleys and volleys of right hands. The referee (who was an ex boxer) watched in awe as Tim slid up and down the ropes as punches detonated off his head. He lost the contest by 6 points, that was 14 points unanswered in a 30 second window – it wasn’t my finest hour. If people ask why I call for ALL boxing to be regulated, even with good training and appropriate matching this why – my experience and then I was still doing it better than anyone else. I leaned over from my stool in the corner, pushed the timekeeper out of the way to frantically rang the bell to end the contest with 8 seconds to go, it was a sour end to a great show.
Brian Dean from No5 agreed to meet me on Monday morning for some feedback to help me evolve my show and save our event. I’ve always vetted referees extensively since. Out our darkness comes light and folk law legends. Tim Hufton is the man who could have been King. I felt incredible guilt after….and I’m still annoyed I was robbed of my greatest coaching success.
Ralph Lewis QC Cup, Burlington Hotel, July 2011
No5 nearly pulled their July show at the Burlington hotel. We’d come so far, those in attendance who’d watched a grown man unconscious on his feet bamboozled for 30 seconds were a little uneasy. This was hardly the outcome they wanted for their QC and Barristers! The risk assessment was born and we started putting protocol in place to ensure future shows had set guidelines to make them safe. I had a set of rules to follow, rules that I had made. I’ve always said that shows need big characters, and Barristers are big characters. The Ralph Lewis QC Cup 1 braced the Burlington Hotel in July 2011. We had the ‘playboy’ Tim Pole, a criminal barrister who’d won a professional football contract before deciding law. Tim Pole was young, good looking, brash, boastful and he even drove a Porche – everyone wanted to see him lose! Mike Duck QC was combining meeting the queen and accepting his new role along with managing a big criminal case. We met the man who we branded ‘the king of the condescending compliment’ Jinder Boora who along with working as a barrister, he was a part-time judge (god help me if I ever stand infront of him). Everyone at No5 was a character and the nature of what they do as a job, meant we had a gym full of huge personalities.
It was the quiet man of No5 Chambers who put in one of the many star performances of the night. Earl Pinnock as a towering, six foot-three man with a big frame, with wide shoulders and a deep voice he had a Frank Bruno presence about him. Earl has a quiet, methodical and gentle nature – when he speaks to you, you are aware that he is reading you. Early in the contest and with Anthony Rogan in his corner her triggered a right hand on his opponents, Lee Dawes head and Lee’s legs where gone. I have spent enough time around boxing to know that there was trouble on the horizon – my show was about to go sideways with a stoppage. Earl coasted in for the remainder of the contest boxing only on the jab. He realised it wasn’t about his ego, it was about the event and raising money for charity. I thanked Earl at the after party for not “closing at the show”, he replied ‘I don’t know what you mean?’ I replied ‘I think you do?’ He sipped his drink, smiled and congratulated me on a great show – it was one of the greatest acts of humility I have ever witnessed. If humility was in abundance with Earl Pinnock, it was lacking with Tim Pole. He was pitted against Richard Cusworth from Matt Macdonald. Mr Pole was already calling out his future opponents and he was brash and boastful. Richard Cusworth was self-assured, but very much a quiet man. Richard Cusworth had another asset – he was a southpaw (left-handed) and he carried unbelievable power in his left hand. As ‘the playboy’ danced to the ring for his audience and then bounced around he failed to realise that there was someone else at this party – the contest changed when Tim Pole let his lead foot move on the inside of Richards lead leg. Boxing enthusiasts will tell you -never let a southpaw get their foot on the outside – the left hand detonated on Tim Poles chin – to a chorus of cheers as he tumbled to the canvas. Tim Pole to his credit is enough of an athlete and a competitor to get through the contest – Tim Pole getting dropped is one of my finest memories of a show. In an event filled night, it wasn’t just Earl Pinnock who put in a performance. They say in sport, sometimes you are better to be lucky than good – Barrister/ Judge Jinder Boora scraped a win against Police Officer Arron Bell in a contest that he stole with the final punch of the contest. There were two ‘big game players’ from No5 who upset the odds to claim a sweet victory. Barrister Michael Wingrave out hustled and out boxed solicitor Jospeh Kotrie-Monson and then Barrister Matt Brunning gave away weight, age and experience but ‘got ghetto’ to disrupt IT worker Andy Jones boxing and snatch victory – it was will that beat skill in a contest that few thought he’d win (myself included). The big entrance of the night was John Maher coming out to the chorus of the ‘great escape’ against Mike Duck QC. Maher, in his 50’s and an ex-soldier marched to the ring and used his squat and powerful frame to march through the reigning attacks of Mike Duck QC’s long arms to turn it into a brutal contest that Maher claimed victory. Tony Mcdaid of No5 Chambers summed it up perfectly.
‘What a night, No5 won 4 bout to 3, it was epic, everyone loved it, Tim Pole got beat – and dropped…WHAT A NIGHT’
I learnt that when a boxer has boxed previously as a junior (Earl Pinnock) that they never lose that skill set and you need to be cautious when matching them – if Earl would have gone through the gears, he’d have stopped Lee Dawe – you can’t beat experience. I also learnt that Barristers can party far harder than I can.
Charity Hurts 3, September 2011, Holiday Inn
If this blog covers 2010-2020, Betty and Jack Nichollas could have wrote chapters about the dark ages of Neil Perkins and Fighting Fit Personal Training. Betty had lost her sister to Bowel Cancer and she was one of my longest serving clients. She asked if I could run a show to raise funds for the bowel disease research foundation and Tariq Isamil (Mr Ismail) – I obliged by running a show, organising an auction and then at the end of the night boxing. When you’ve had all day setting up a venue, the last thing you need is three men trying to make a name by pinging you infront of an 400+ audience – all in the name of charity. Made worse by the belly full of curry served courtesy of Raj Rana and Itihaas that did as good a menu that I’ve ever seen at boxing dinner show. The concept was different. A trainer boxing against three members, each member doing two rounds each whilst the trainer stayed in for 6 rounds. We decided not to score it – I don’t think anyone was going for points – it was brutal and charity did hurt. It was a pleasure to watch then apprentice Personal Trainer Luke Paddock box for six rounds against the St Ives Chambers Barrister James Picken, Supplement/ Fitness Guru Nathan Chan and marketing manager Ben Williams. Luke went on to box for an English Title and he was a pleasure to watch him slip and slide punches whilst he effortlessly countering. My three opponents had bad intentions – Joe Wilson (Chief Clerk St Philips Chambers), Brian Dean (Barrister, No 5 Chambers) and Sean Feenan (Entrepreneur) formed my opponents. An ex-soldier with deceptively long arms, Brian Dean took some nullifying, Joe Wilson with his explosive hands was a handful and Sean Feenan was easily controlled due to my experience. Joe Wilson caught me with a shot and did something that very few people have ever really done – he got me mad. At the start of the round he put his hands out to sportsman like touch gloves, as I offered my hands his burst on me with three straight shots, all of them hitting me flush on the chin and gaining my attention. I was mad and I set the trap – the stupid idiot too the bait! I used a trick that former British Cruiserweight champion Ron Norton taught me (by teaching me he hit me repeatedly with it) I switched to a southpaw stance and put my weight on the front foot enticing Joe to throw at my chin. I dropped my lead hand low to invite him in and when he committed with the jab a threw a thunderous southpaw lead hook (right) and chopped it down over his lead hand. When it impacted, I realised that I was boxing a head of chambers not a professional boxer – he was out on his feet. I caught Joe and held him up and walked him back to the ropes holding his sagging body up under his arm pits.
‘Joe are you alright?’ I said in his ear. I then told him to bounce on his legs. I tucked up and instructed him what to throw for the remainder of the round to make it look competitive– he survived to fight another day. It would not be the last time that Joe Wilson’s chin would be detonated on.
Charity Hurts was a great concept. I’ve flirted with the idea for my 40th birthday of doing it again. I need an opponent and a cause worthy of it. I always joke about that show. I set up, cornered boxers, ate a meal and then boxed – if I had a broom stuck up my arse I’d have swept the floor as a ran around – who want’s to challenge me?
Kings 1, Gatecrasher Nightclub, November 2011
When men become kings. We had a cohort that had boxed prior and they wanted to box again – it made sense, a Prizefighter format to see who was the best.
By the time fight night came, the Welterweight was the only division that had four competitors. Matt Davies and Ben Mortimer met in the final and it was ‘the underdog’ who’d never boxed prior to ‘Kings’ who upset Stave Con’s MD Matt Davies in a close contest, to the pleasure of Bens uncle comedian, Bob Mortimer – my favourite spectator at any of my shows! Mark Stretton won at a canter in the Middleweights, but it was the Light-Heavyweights (group of death) and the Heavyweights where the anticipation lay.
That man Dan Ricardo faced off against the best gym fighter we’ve ever seen – Kevin Saunders of St Ives Chambers. It was said that Saunders spars like Tarzan, yet fights like Jane. Ricardo did what he always does – finds a way to win. It was Ricardo’s second fight that was a tougher ask – Dan ‘the Body Snatcher’ Boden. I’d describe Dan as the hardman from Salford, for a man who at the time was sales manager for the ‘Hello Kitty’ brand didn’t fit his fighting reputation. In 2009 prior to our show ‘The Rumble in The Crumble’ he broke chef Glynn Purnell’s ribs, forcing him to pull out of a contest with Kevin Saunders (that punch cost me £3,500) – the body snatcher had a fearsome reputation. Ricardo won again to become Kings champion in the group of death.
The heavyweights brought the excitement and the first of the heavyweight contests saw Joe Wilson (Chief Clerk St Philips Chambers) back again against the fearsome ‘Fun Bus’ Simon Smith. The fun bus is by trade a town planner who holds down a reputable job – he also does part time war photography across the globe, flying out to war zones and conflicts to take images – he is a little bit bonkers (and that’s coming from me) I recall walking through the crowd rushing to the changing room as I watched the first round unfold and I remember the Smith landing a solid jab that rocked Joe back onto his heels, like a shark that had smelt blood he dropped his lead hand and the lunged in with an almighty lead hook that landed on the point of Wilson’s chin – he went down like he’d been shot. When a boxer drops that heavily it is never good. It was like scene from Rocky as I tried pushing my way to the ring like Adrian trying to get to Rocky. Joe Wilson clambered around on his hands and knees as he climbed up with shaky legs to his feet, the referee continued to count to 8. Joe Wilson didn’t let go of the top rope, he later revealed if he had he would have fell over! Instructed by Tommy Langford in his corner (who himself went on to win a British Middleweight title) he spat his gumshield. Ever the seasoned boxer, Langford performed the oldest corner trick in the book. Wilson stumbled to the corner, using the ropes like a hand rail that your frail nan would use after a bottle of whisky to get his mouthguard put back in by Langford in the corner, Langford reached forward and ripped the back of the headguard off and told the referee that he needed to refit it – this bought Wilson important time. Unlike when Earl Pinnock had boxed Lee Daw in the Ralph Lewis Cup, the ‘Fun Bus’ was parading around the opposite corner baying for blood, he wasn’t looking to make an opponent save face. Time moved very slowly for me and I like Adrian from Rocky yelled ‘stop the fight’ as the referee after the called them back to box after the break, Wilson’s legs had not fully recovered and I feared what might happen next, he was about to get taken out. The Fun Bus marched across the ring and began his assault looking for the stoppage before the round ended. The fun bus made a critical error and he smothered his own work looking for the knockout and forgot about his jab, at the last exchange of the round Wilson rolled off the ropes and hit the Fun Bus with the same straight three shots he hit me with at Charity Hurts 3. It was a close to Rocky 4 as White Collar Boxing gets. Like in Rocky 4, the contest unfolded and Wilson out hustled him for a win. Brian Dean in the final was no easy feat and Wilson ground it out to become the Heavyweight King of 2011.
The Kings will always be a favourite of mine, legends were made! You couldn’t force a show like that again. I hope one day to have all the boxers with enough ability, that are well matched and willing to lay it on the line again. 2011 was the biggest year in our history for multiple reasons. I learnt some valuable lessons and the Kings was the crowing of a great year.
The Comeback, Gatecrasher, March 2012
The Comeback didn’t go down as one of my favourites. It was my first show with more than 600 people in attendance. I still have the sofa and the furniture in my front room that were paid for by my most ‘commercially successful’ show at that point. I just never got into it. Winstone Clarke v Mo Lattibedgrie was a good contest on the show, Clarke out-witting the strong opponent in a solid contest. Lee Dawe again got a rough ride matched against strong first timer Leo Clarke who outpointed him over three round and James Picken got a win for St Ives Chambers, he boxed well behind a long jab to beat St Philips clerk trier James Wackett who caused the infamous impetigo gate (the scabby little bastard didn’t tell anyone he had impetigo and four of the boxers on the show contracted it from sharing head guards) . Tim Hufton picked up a comeback win against Simon Pearce. The sour point was from Bruce Thompson and Russell Jones and the aftermath of Bruce’s reaction to his victory. It was as entertaining and enthralling of any contest I’d ever witnessed. Bruce is a very successful business owner who along with a direct marketing business, he has mortgage brokers and property portfolio, like a lot of business owners, he was a control freak. Russell Jones who he was pitted against had a point to prove. He’s recently split up from his long term girlfriend and I advised him against entering the November 2011 Kings in the ‘group of death’ as I didn’t feel he was good enough to compete with the other participants. At the opening bell Russell marched across the ring and proceeded to beat Bruce from pillar to post, dropping him in the process. Bruce looked like a man genuinely scared and as disappointed as I am at his reaction in the aftermath, he did what only those in a Rocky contest would do – he turned the contest around and controlled the tired Jones behind the jab and set up scoring right hands to win the contest. It appeared like a win win? Russell got to unleash is rage and Bruce had the real rocky story climbing off the canvass to win.
It was disappointing as Bruce Thompson is one of a handful of people who had a bad experience on my shows – Why I don’t understand, I don’t have to live in other people’s head though.
Ralph Lewis QC Cup 2, Aston Villa Holte Suite, July 2012
The first Ralph Lewis QC Cup was good, I’d argue the second one was better. Like in all of our shows, lessons were learned. The tone for a great evening was set with Punter Southall’s Andrew Constantinou boxing Ben Mortimer to a draw in an epic, back and forth contest. Lessons were learned as Gavin Tansley in his fifth contest boxed Dr James Brunning. In the build up, Brunning had looked the stronger of the two and I recall a final meeting with Paul Gough for a second opinion as I contemplated pulling Tansley out, Gough’s opinion that Tansley would have enough to survive the contest. Tansley shocked us all and his experience told as he dropped and controlled Brunning – again the lesson learned, ring time is everything and you can’t beat competing. The War Horse Matt Davies was back for his fourth contest and he boxed to instruction to out point the king of the backhanded compliment Jinder Boora. There were two contests which are in my favourite fights I’ve witnessed on shows. Permidner Devgun v Anthony Burgess was good, Ed Milburn v Mark Lennon was better – all of the Holte Suite was on its feet cheering. Devgun v Burgess was a draw, Milburn edged the win against Lennon in a contest that was so high scoring it could have been a cricket match.
The Ralph Lewis QC Cup 2 was a huge success.
Kings 2012, Gatecrasher, November 2012
Trying to replicate the 2011 show didn’t work, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy this show. Numbers wise it was poor at just over 400 people. The new weight division saw Joe Phillips squeezed out by Baz Macvana at 63.5kg Matt ‘The Warhorse’ Davies beat Ben Mortimer in the Welterweights final to make it one apiece and Joe Wilson did what he became accustomed to doing – got buzzed and then out hustled Adam Kearns at Cruiserweight to become a two weight champion. In the final there was a platform for future shows. The tank John Maher in his 50’s stepped up to box Kris ‘the Pole’ Blaszyck in the heavyweights and pushed a man thirty years his junior all the way. Kris was then outpointed and beat my Mark Perry in the heavyweights final. He claimed if he boxed Perry ‘fresh’ that he’s beat him comfortable. Mark Perry honoured the request for March.
The Kings format was dead, I am not saying I won’t ever run it again. You just need the right cohort with the right ambition. On a show front I didn’t enjoy 2012 as much as 2011. The Comeback, despite 600 people left a bad after taste and the Kings was flat. 2013 was on the Horizon though
Fresh Meat, Gatecrasher Nightclub, March 2013
This was the birth of a new era. This was our first show with over 700 people in attendance and it was the first show with a female bout. Fresh Meat was one of our special shows.
If the fight night was good, it was because the fight camp had been brutal, partly down to one man – ‘The Hands of Stone’ Ciaran Darby. Ciaran manages a portfolio of properties and I will say to any of you – never owe him any money, he hits too hard! Ciaran has an ability that you’d love to put into any boxer, the ability to turn your lights out with a single punch. He never looked angry or tense when he throws, relaxed and flowing – but when it lands you know. We spent a fight camp treating sparring partners for concussion. The hands of stone was matched with Anthony Conniff, a psychiatric nurse who photographer David Rann described as having animated features that are great to photograph. Conniff was a hard man and his bulldog like features meant he wouldn’t take a step back from Darby – the one thing you didn’t want to do is back up and let him set you up. They wrestled and exchanged for three rounds and I was glad that both came out unhurt. Darby picked up the win
It was Julia Sturgess who was our first female to walk out on a show, five years after my first event. I remember they got her entrance song wrong and there was some commotion prior to the contest starting. Julia, an actuary by day boxed percentages and kept Julie Haycock at bay with her long arms to pick up a good points victory. If Julia and Julie did good, Jo Quinn did one better. The Kiwi marketing manager boxed a punch perfect display to the level I’d never seen prior to win boxer of the night. The girls had arrived.
There were wins for tax adviser Daffyd Davies against solicitor Sean O’Toole and Kris ‘the Pole’ Blaszyck got revenge over Mark Perry. Lee Dawe after two rough rides on previous shows got the win with a polished performance against Phil Walsh. It was down to the little guys to close the show and Scott Cooper was epic against John Nicholls in a show closer on one of our best ever shows.
Ralph Lewis QC Cup 2013, Aston Villa Holte Suite, July 2013
Our third Ralph Lewis QC Cup and we were back at the Holte suite. The feedback from No5 is that they were struggling to get Barristers who could commit. We had our first female bout of the card. Elaine Mitchell (Mills & Reeve) boxed solicitor Sat Bains in an milestone contest. Michael Maher (No5) had an enthralling contest with freelance writer Ed King that King edged and then there was that man again Jinder Boora (No5) who had a technical contest that ended a draw with Andrew Constantinou. It was the man Jinder Boora we’d dubbed prior as ‘the King of the backhanded compliment’ who summed up the show and really the concept of white collar boxing perfectly as we both stood and cheered the final contest along with everyone in attendance for No5’s Ecky Tiwana vs Property Developer Chris Rosier
Jinder summed it up his contest and the evening perfectly.
‘They don’t want to see or appreciate technical boxing like mine. They want to see unfit, novices punch the hell out of each other’ – that is exactly what Chris Rosier and Ecky provided, appropriately matched men in their 50’s trading off and giving it their all – it ended up 28 each, everyone was cheering them.
Ring Kings, Gatecrasher Nightclub, Nov 2013
Ring Kings was a cracking show that provided great entertainment and controversy, even if it didn’t sell lots of tickets and make me lots of cash! We had the personalities and an interest from the casual party.
The first time in my history that the licensing officer has had ‘intelligence’ about my shows. We had Mark Perry back after his defeat from last year, back boxing against first timer hard man Carl Wilson. Now, I don’t take much notice of when people refer to someone as a ‘hard man’ – when I say it, it carries some credibility. There had been some ‘spats’ between Carl’s and Marks fans on social media that West Midlands Police had picked up on, coupled with a large ‘Zulu BFC’ contingent coming to support Neville Crawford we took the decision to move the ‘problem bout’ early on in the card, the licensing officer obliged and doorman were shitting their pants! This was fuelled by the added animosity that one is die hard Aston Villa and one is die hard Birmingham City. With Wilson power it was always ‘edgy’, but Perry did something very well – boxed controlled at range and disciplined for a seasoned win. The crowd were impeccably behaved. Added to the mix with ‘know football hooligans’ we had a load of police officers in attendance to support Sergeant Arron Bell of West Midlands Police who picked up a good win against Journalist Daniel Treasure in a contest that many would have considered an upset. The ‘War Horse’ Matt Davies boxed a man 20 years his junior who was slightly heavier, bigger and stronger. I have never seen him with such a smile on his face after getting outpointed by gym favourite Pavol Kinkovsky in a 3 round war. Neville Crawford unsettled Nathan Anibaba and was the aggressor to upset Nathans smooth boxing as he picked up the win, but we saved the controversy for Wilson v Saunders 2 – as perplexing of a contest that I’ve ever witnessed. Remember the quote about Kevin Saunders from St Ives – he spars like Tarzan, fights like Jane. This was very similar. The controversy from Kevin’s perspective was the risk assessment at the weight. Our risk assessment was states that contests must fall within 10% of each other. Saunders advised he’d be bellow 81kg, Wilson foolishly agreed to make it, with three weeks to go and 89kg it wouldn’t have been safe for Wilson to box at 81kg, to satisfy the risk assessment I made Wilson make 86kg. He weighed in at 85.5kg, Saunders weighed 80.1kg. That is Saunders ‘controversy’ I recall watching in the crowd with long term gym members Katie Kershaw and Dan Ricardo as Saunders was doing in the ring what we always knew he was capable of – boxing beautifully at range with flowing shots. Going into the last round, Saunders was boxing well and winning, I turned to my co-spectators and said
‘he can’t throw this one away?’
Wilson pressed forward for the win and he was prepared to take one, two or three to land one. He was in search of a win. Saunders body language was starting to look uneasy. Ahead on points and with less than a minute to go, Saunders did something that my brother does when I’m beating him at Monopoly, he threw a tantrum and stopped playing. He dropped his hands and turned away and enabled Wilson to score shot after shot to steal the contest. On his death bed if Saunders told me he’d taken a bribe to throw that fight, I’d believe it – it was the most perplexing contest I’d ever seen. I remember turning to Katie and Dan
‘what the fuck have I just seen?’ Tarzan disappeared and out came Jane, I was perplexed. I am still confused by it.
At the after-party Barristers, Drug Dealers, Company Directors, Accountants, Police Officers and Football Hooligans enjoyed a wicked after party. Leaving Bar Nuvo, I asked the doorman if you’d had any problems, his reply
‘Only this dickhead flashing his warrant card trying to get back in after pissing up the bar’ I put him in a taxi and gave the driver £20 to take him home, there were people in that bar that wouldn’t be so accommodating to him and his profession– to protect and serve.
Raw Talent, Gatecrasher Nightclub, March 2014
Raw Talent was not a commercial success and it was our poorest March show for some time. This was largely down to our market place been challenged by Ultra White Collar Boxing and the abundance of ‘8-week free training’ organisations. We’d become lazy and from marketing perspective we were not only not targeting our existing client base, we were been squeezed having ‘competition’, it either kills you or makes you stronger. Our usual bustling March show only featured 7 bouts compared to 10-12 for a busy show.
Jeweller Steve Quance engaged in an entertaining draw with Phil Walsh, former infantry solider Dan Hudson was outworked by the ‘granite man’ Anthony Conniff in good 3-round battle. Mark Cheetham was too big and too strong in beating Nathan Anibaba and there was controversy as James Huggan spat his gumshield to buy time and outpoint Edgbaston County Cricket Grounds Tom Rawlings. Anaesthetist Katie Ramm didn’t put Sheida Gadaffi to sleep, but she was way too much for her Persian counterpart – lessons learned from this contest is that just because weights go, abilities don’t and don’t allow family members in the corner as Sheida’s boyfriend offered little for constructive advice for a boxer in need of direction. It was the show close where James McGowan out in a boxer of the night performance against Adam Lightfoot. We were sliding and needed change, our shows in numbers were moving backward, it would get worse before it got better.
High Voltage, Electric Nightclub, November 2014
I close my first five years of 2010-2020 with a show that was my last show to run at a loss, but for some very strange reasons one of my favourites. I was back at Oceana (now Electric) and it was Claire Sutton back as corporate and events managers looking after the show. It close 5 years of my history and sprung board my future success. The term ‘boxer experience’ would be emphasised after this show and even though mistakes I’d made prior would be made again and re-enforced it is my ‘failures’ that have made me evolve.
My summer 2014 show had to be cancelled, sparring had reduced in the gym and prior to High Voltage and the evidence of 6 bouts signed up I had already put wheels in motion and advertised for my March show. For the first time ever, I’d invited all of the gym members for a ‘free night out’, I’d invited them to bring a friend and I’d also invited every single person who’d enquired form my March show to come and see the ‘best night out in town’ Three days prior to the show, I nearly cancelled it, I was running at £1,200 loss and was down to 5 bouts. 48 hours prior to the show one of the greatest acts of cowardice I have ever seen as a boxer withdrew alleging that he’d been assaulted in Leamington Spa on a Tuesday night and set upon by a group of youths whilst out drinking with friends – I never knew that Leamington was such a hot bed on a Tuesday night? and who goes out three days prior to boxing. He hadn’t been training, missed the photo shoot and he completed his first proper spar the week prior to boxing and after his first full three rounds sparring he got out the ring and the look on his face told me all I need to know – I knew then he’d pull out. After talking about volting the top rope and winning like Naz, this soon faded with the reality of boxing – something that I give all my participants. He’s lost the fight in his head and took the easy way out. With the return of his tickets (that were posted) I was now at a £1,800 loss. As Nat King Cole would say – let’s face the music and dance.
High Voltage was the show of legends, revenge, accomplishment and upsets. It cost me £1,800 but it was worth every penny.
Massive props to Tim Hufton, at less than 48 hours-notice he stood in for an exhibition with Adam Kerr in a good show opener that was a warm up for four epic contests.
After the controversy of his opponent spitting the gumshield in March, Tom Rawlings and Andrew Constantionu went in search of their first win and it was Rawlings who edged this great boxing contest. If it was boxing in the previous contest, Jeweller Steve Quance and Nurse Richard Paradine went at it like ‘two rutting stags’ Quance guided by professional boxer Tommy Langford finished the stronger of the two to claim a win and one of the most captivating images from our shows and the sense of accomplishment – what a fight. We had the rubber match as Matt Davies and Ben Mortimer squared off for a third time. I had the responsibility of preparing the War Horse for this contest and I got him to do what he does best – fight till the end. He ‘drowned’ Mortimer with work rate and after two close rounds he forced a standing eight count and dominated that last round to win the third contest between the pair. Before I share the last contest, I will share a little insight into the ‘trainers perspective’ of what goes on prior to contests. On the day of a show (or the day before) the coaching team will get together and discuss who is going to win a contest. Never before this contest did the entire coaching team believe in Mark Perry v Joe Wilson that there would be only one winner – even Mark Perry’s trainer through Wilson would be too much! When you read the previous five years, you could argue either way, but everyone was caught up in ‘the Legend of Joe Wilson’. Twice he’d beaten the best gym fighter Kevin Saunders, he’s climbed off the floor to beat the Fun Bus and boxed the relentless Brian Dean and he’s also beaten the heady handed Adam Kearns – what could Mark Perry do? The answer to that unfolded, he stuck to a game plan, was disciplined and used his assets of height and reach to control Wilson for a comfortable and fairly one-sided win.
Half way through the decade, I’d ran to my biggest loss yet. I created some wonderful memories and learnt some lessons 2015-2019 are just as fruitful and take just as long to read. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey so far….Part 2 coming soon 2015-2019. If you’ve read this far, surely you’d consider boxing in 2020?