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Varsity Victory for Cambridge’s kickboxers.

Blues Boxing Cambridge kickboxing Oxford Varsity

Cambridge 3 – 1 Oxford

Cambridge University Kickboxing Society stormed to their first ever Varsity victory on Ceasarean sunday, in a hard-fought but well-deserved win.

The fixture, already once postponed this year, and marred by the poor organisation of the Oxford team, went ahead only after last-minute preparations were made. Tensions ran high in the build-up to the match, as Oxford attempted to withdraw from the fixture with only three days to go, lacking both a venue and a referee. Moved to Cambridge and much scaled-down, since Oxford had also failed to put forward a full team, the Light Blues stormed to their first Varsity victory.

After the bitter frustration of a 5 – 4 defeat last year, Cambridge were looking to settle a score. First into the ring was Pembroke’s Frank Gorringe, who, in the words of a teammate, was ready “to kill someone”. The sinewy Light Middleweight got off to a tentative start, matched against experienced Oxford fighter James Richardson.

Yet with Gorringe landing accurate kicks and punches, Richardson’s attempts to outmuscle the Cambridge man became increasingly futile. In the third round, as Gorringe’s superior fitness began to show, Richardson continually resorted to grappling techniques – a move that finally cost him the fight, as the referee awarded a split decision to Cambridge, and commended Gorringe on his technical advantage.

The second fight was a far less balanced affair, as Chris Webb – ex-GB kickboxer and this year’s CUABC Captain – was matched against Oxford’s Naoya Koda. Even allowing for the discrepancy in weight between the two, Webb’s ability and power were totally unrivalled.

The fight started with the Oxford competitor taking a full-on kick to the face, a blow from which he never recovered. Left reeling by Webb’s flurry of punches and kicks, Koda did valiantly to last the three rounds, but the verdict was a foregone conclusion. In granting Cambridge a second win, Webb barely broke a sweat – and proceeded to follow the match with a long-distance run.

As the Light Blues pulled into the lead, knowing the third fight could secure a first ever Varsity victory, Churchill fresher Chris Kelly stepped into the arena. Up against a burly competitor, Kelly did well to withstand a series of thunderous punches in the opening minutes, but soon proved his own strength with some well-timed counters that kept Oxford’s Pawel at a distance. Exchanging powerful blows, both men tired, but as the fight moved into a decisive third round the Oxford fighter had nothing left in the tank.

Kelly exploited his opponent’s dropped guard, throwing well-timed combinations that had the Cambridge supporters on their feet. The anticipated victory was given by a single point, and Kelly was mobbed by elated outgoing President Heidi Holmes. With a Varsity triumph already in the bag, she advised the final CUKBS fighter to “f”cking whitewash them”.

It was her opposite number, Oxford’s Captain Andrei Akhvlediani who squared up to first-time competitor Alex Howard, determined to prevent a 4 – 0 humiliation. Affectionately known by his teammates as “the Bull”, Akhvlediani began the fight explosively, pushing Howard around the ring and pummelling him with punches. Looking somewhat dazed, Howard did well to endure the first two rounds, and began to recover his composure in the final stages of the fight.

Responding to calls from his mother and sometime-trainer for “la rage, Alexander, la RAGE”, Howard put in a brave performance, coming back to land some vital blows to his opponent. The final result, though in Oxford’s favour, did little to dent Cambridge’s excitement at winning the competition, with a momentous 3 – 1 scoreline overall.

Proceedings were concluded on Parkers’ Piece, where a friendly beer was had by all, though the Cambridge team couldn’t help laughing in the sour face of Oxford’s veteran coach Zac Etheridge – his early departure from the scene was taken as a marker of disgust at Oxford’s first-ever loss. Yet as CUKBS anticipate hosting the Varsity match again next year, the result is something they can only wish to repeat.

Image courtesy of Heidi Holmes.