Right Hooks and Library Books: Size Matters

SSK wonders if the boxers can balance bookwork, fitness and forearms to before Varsity on March 17th in London.

Boxing hummer nandos tuna Varsity

Size matters. Ever seen a Mini run over a Hummer? On the other hand, ever seen a sumo win a marathon? That is the dilemma in boxing.


Everyone wants to be a big banger, but no one wants to blow out like an overweight heffalump. The ‘Get big or die trying’ approach does not fit with Varsity boxing with the heavyweight limit at 91 kg (just over 14 stone). Sadly, this means I cannot call upon the services of last year’s light heavyweight (81 kg) Tom “the real babyface” Burlton. He seems to be enjoying his steak dinners at 100 kg more than the old tuna salads from last year.

Bulging biceps are not very effective in amateur boxing, however, upgrading to high definition would not harm some members of CUABC… Nevertherless – “Whirlwind”, “Cobra”, “Hellfire”, “Cheesegrater” and “Benedict” all enjoy a quick flex

They say ‘look good, feel better’, but when you’re going through boxing sessions it’s more like ‘look good, feel like you’d rather be in Nandos’. Training twice a day, six days a week is not exactly a walk in the park. A college rugby player said to me last week that boxing is easy compared to rugby, given that an amateur bout only lasts 6 minutes compared to 80 full minutes on the pitch. Given that the said individual could only probably manage 80 full minutes in the pub, I left this comment hanging.

If you take away the small matter of your opponent punching you in the solar plexus, I might perhaps start to see how boxing may be construed as easy. If the said individual could then run the standard 6 minute miles for middle distance, or 10 km in under 45 minutes, then I would concede defeat. For boxers, these are the minimum fitness standards, regardless of weight. Not so easy.

Fortunately, I am not going to give a Mr Motivator style sermon on fitness levels. Chris “fit” Webb can give you a comprehensive low down. If people could ask a boxer just one question before a bout, I can almost certainly guarantee that it would be, to paraphrase Funky Dee, “are you gonna bang doe?”

House of Pain – Ben Vincett of Glassworks Gym introduces phase 2. Clif has a sit down before hitting the 50 kg bells.

Increasing strength, without gaining the sort of muscles that make a 22 year-old look like they shop at Baby Gap requires a special type of programme. After all, you only have to carry the extra bulk around with you in the ring. Luckily, Ben Vincett at Glassworks Gym has our back. And our calves, quads, glutes, biceps, abs, triceps, traps… If you leave the shop and all your muscle groups are not in 3D, go back and ask for a refund.

Training can take over your life, especially in the build-up to Varsity. Sports kit becomes everyday attire for most, garnering disdainful looks from supervisors – assuming you make supervisions after morning gym sessions.

Still, some boxers keep up appearances, whereas others keep it ‘casual’. Having lost Jason Blick to a shoulder injury, it appeared that CUABC had suffered heavily in the looks department. However, there were rumours of one half of the ‘bash brothers’, making a comeback searching a hat-trick of Varsity victories. Let us hope big Chadders can safely make it out of Cindies and roll into the ring.

There are of course young pretenders on the scene, namely, that man John Lacy and “Botswana’s Best” Benny Bussman, so it is not all doom and gloom ladies (and other boxing fans). However, that said, from a boxing perspective, bulbous biceps are about as useful as BB’s diamond earring in a bout. The bottom line is let the fitness, technique and heart do the talking. Leave the bling (anatomical or geological) out of the ring, and the perms to Don King.

John Lacy arrives for the Sudio and Spa, whilst Benny B checks the mirror to check body posture and if his collar is correctly popped.

Illustration by Amy Munroe-Faure



104th Boxing Varsity Match – Thursday March 17th 2011, The Troxy, London, E1.

9 Bouts of amateur boxing, potentially 5 returning Cambridge Blues (3 with previous Knock-Out wins), live DJ on the night, the option of direct coaches to/from venue.

Time: 019:30 – Late, Venue: The Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, London E1, Tickets online: See Tickets, or from CUABC members direct