Right Hooks and Library Books: Fight Night

Anticipation builds as Town vs Gown sells-out in two weeks. What boxing action do 500 students have to look forward to at The Guildhall?

Boxing Cambridge Boxing Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka town vs gown

Cambridge Interviews. Remember them? Now imagine telling everybody that you have one and then inviting 500 people to watch you sweat it out and slowly capitulate. That is the sort of pressure the Cambridge boxers will be facing in the Guildhall. Except instead chatting over an office desk, the ‘interviewer’, so to speak, will be wearing gloves and hitting you hard.

Town vs. Gown is always an interesting affair, with many students curious to witness what this boxing malarkey is all about. In fact, many of CUABC’s boxers will find out first-hand what boxing really is like, as Head Coach Ben Blowes uses this match to give as many new boxers ring time in the build up to Varsity.

However, do not get confused, this is all for real. Boxers of CUABC are all carded members of the ABA and the results of these bouts are recorded officially. Great professionals such as Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn and Lennox Lewis all started off as amateurs and sadly, there are no concessions for being a student. A jab is a jab. The ring doesn’t offer an NUS discount on pain.

Jason Blick winning his bout at Town vs Gown 2010

Extreme pressure. That is what to expect. Town vs. Gown is one of the biggest sporting events actually held in Cambridge. However, given how quickly tickets sold out (in just two weeks), we should perhaps look to petition King’s College Chapel or somewhere large to put in that planning application for a granny annex and host it in there. Just a thought.

The opportunity to perform in front of a crowd of 500 is one that few would have experienced at school level or intercollegiate level. It is hard to know how individual boxers will respond, which is where the unpredictability comes in.

On top of this, you are up on the raised platform of a boxing ring. The lights are solely on you and your opponents. No teammates to hide behind and no third umpire to bail you out – if you hit the canvas, it will become apparent to the crowd surrounding all four sides of the ring. Boxing doesn’t need snick-o-meters. Whenever a clean punch lands, the crowd will normally tell you with an almost pantomine “oooh”. That’s not the sort of ‘I’ve just had a nice sip of hot cocoa with toffee syrup, “oooh”, but rather a ‘I’ve just stubbed my foot on an oncoming transit van “oooh”.’

Then you worry if your fitness will last. I was nervous as a frog in a French restaurant first time I boxed. Anyone who claims otherwise is liar. Or Audley Harrison.

The Town vs Gown programme from 1994 alongside the one from this year

There is nothing like the build up to a big boxing match such as this, with about 12 bouts on the bill. For the CUABC committee there is a lot of behind the scenes work to organize – a ring, officials, boxing license, the all important bar, MC (and yes, “Punchy Bob” has been confirmed) and of matching boxers from local clubs.

Sadly, the fabled Cambridge Amateur Boxing Club, for whom our current coaches all boxed for in the 1990s has since disbanded, so the Town team is now made up from the best clubs in the region. This means we have boxers from North Herts, St Ive’s Boxing Academy, Islington ABC and even the Met Police ABC. Tough competition, but then again, Varsity won’t be easy.

So for those lucky to get tickets, brush up on the rules of amateur boxing. Those boxing on Friday will start to see ‘rest days’ in their training programmes. A novelty, as we taper off training to let the body recover, stabilise weight and stay physically fresh.

Staying fit and healthy before the fight is a priority for these two CUABC  Boxers

So who will be stepping into the ring? Well, you might see, straight from BBC fame Nim “Karate Geek” Sukumar , James “Satorial” Philips (or just JP), El Nino “Coathanger” Chambers, Seb “Ghengis Khan” Pender and John Lacy, amongst others. Coach Lee Mitchell (or Uncle Mitch as we affectionately call him) captained the Town team against Cambridge in 1994, but this time, we’re lucky to have him in the Gown corner. Now, I have to get back to writing a motivational speech