The Tab interviews CUABC before Town vs Gown

“If you have the skill, you don’t need the ego”


“Violent, devastating, relentless: CUABC is without equal.”

So says the Cambridge University Amateur Boxing Club’s website. The Tab talked to three of those involved in this Saturday’s ‘Town vs Gown’ match, the annual event that sees CUABC take on local clubs.

All three are going into their first bout for Cambridge.


Omba Kumwenda, 4th Year Chemical Engineer, has been boxing since 2013
omba

Why did you get into boxing?

My sister recommended it, and I was also getting bored of team sports – I wanted more of a challenge.

Do you think there are any stigmas toward female boxing?

Yeah definitely, people always have the same sort of reaction when they hear I box, y’know ‘Oh boxing?!’, because it’s not the sort of thing they expect. But less and less so. We get more and more girls in the squad each year, and that’s great.

When you step into the ring, what are you thinking?

I’ll probably just focus on my boxing, try not to think too much about the crowd around me – I’ll think of what my coaches have told me, and most of all I’ll try and enjoy it.

How important is ego to the sport?

If a boxer has a large ego, I think they probably think they’ve earned it – but it’s important to stay humble. You’ve got to trust yourself, trust your training, but there’s a fine line.

Rocky or Apollo Creed?

Rocky, classic.

Float like a butterfly or sting like a bee?

Float like a butterfly – because I’m short, so I’m naturally disadvantaged, so it’d be nice to float for a change

      [So do you back yourself already stinging like a bee?]

<laughs> I’d like to think so, I’d like to think so.

Describe your fighting style in 3 words.

Aggressive, (slightly) clumsy & determined

Whats your go-to get pumpedsong?

As corny as it sounds, I’ll listen to some Beyonce – probably ‘Run the world’. The lyrics are a bit cheesy so I wouldn’t sing along, but I love the beat.


 

Ope Oduyeye, 3rd Year Medic, has been boxing since 2015

ope

Why did you get into boxing?

I went to ‘Town vs Gown’ this time last year and one of my medic mates was fighting and from that point on I thought ‘I have to do this next year’. My family is also into boxing, especially my mum (she’s really really into boxing) but she never let me do it – obviously parental influences and all that… but when I got to uni I saw that you don’t need to be ridiculously good, you just need to work hard.

Would you back the average town or the average gown?

Hmmm well from what I’ve seen in the queues of Life and Cindies, I’d say that the average town boxer would definitely beat the average student. Maybe some students are hiding their abilities… but I doubt it.

Talk us through your emotions leading up to the fight.

I’m not too nervous at the moment, but on the day it’s a different story… I mean, I’ve invited a LOT of people, and I reckon once I see them there I’m gonna start sh*tting myself, but right now, I’m feeling cool… I’m always really nervous when I get into the ring, but when that first hit comes in, all the nerves dissipate. Obviously I don’t show it in my face, I try and put on a hard face, as you do.

If someone were to say to you Ope, why do you like a sport which involves you getting punched in the face, I thought Cambridge students were meant to be clever, what would be your response?

Well obviously the aim of the sport is not to be hit in the face… and at the end of the day, you’re allowed to hit someone without getting in trouble – there’s something very primal about that, and it helps me get my aggression out.

So boxing is the toughest sport, but what other sports come close?

Just in terms of danger, I’d say rugby – some of the boys are quite big and the sport is ridiculously dangerous. We’ve had more injuries, more concussions in my college rugby team than in all the sparring we’ve had all year.

      [But you still think you can take them, right?]

Over the course of three rounds, yeah.

Thoughts on Tyson Fury?

He’s a good boxer, said and done a lot of stupid stuff out of the ring I don’t agree with… we have to see where he goes from here – I mean, he’s got the belt now, he’s a world champion, I want to see if he can act like one.

Float like a butterfly or sting like a bee?

Float like a butterfly – because that would help you outside the ring too, I’d be a half decent dancer then.

Whats your go-to get pumpedsong?

I can’t lie, I like a bit of Drake, ‘Hotline Bling’ – also, this might surprise you, but I’m a bit of a Justin Bieber fan – not his old stuff, but his new stuff… ‘What do you mean’, ‘Sorry’ – they’re pretty good… but mostly Drake.


Sahrah Hogan, Masters in Law, has been boxing since 2014

sahrah

Where did you start?

I started back in Melbourne, and it’s pretty different over here – there are more amateur clubs and far easier to get involved. Actually, as soon as I applied to Cambridge I was super excited to join a club. Basically, I wanted a challenge on top of the challenge of applying. And this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Town vs Gown will give us an opportunity to show our friends and family what we’ve been doing, training 6 times a week for 10 weeks. I’m so, so excited about having my first fight, and it being sold out is even better.

Have you ever been in a real life fight?

Well I’m pretty aware of my size so I wouldn’t go starting any fights, but I also try to be pretty friendly and laid-back which helps – I like to stick to that stereotype of Australians more than the boisterous bar-fighting type.

Do you think there are any stigmas toward female boxing?

Well I’m excited to see more and more women get involved – people think it’s too violent and not suitable for women, but really it’s based on strategy, skill and fitness. I’d actually say it was more based on weight than on gender. Friends who don’t do boxing definitely think I’m mad, but they’ll be there on Saturday finding out what it’s all about.

Would you want your daughter to get into boxing? Do you think its important for women to be able to hold their own physically?

I think confidence and discipline and commitment really come with boxing, and if I had a son or daughter, as they got older I’d definitely support them both getting involved.

Thoughts on Tyson Fury?

He’s definitely a bit of a character, and an exciting thing to happen to boxing. But his sexist comments are just a bit of disgrace to be honest, I’m glad he took them back. There are women getting involved in the sport, and we’re just as keen, just as fit as the guys.

How important is ego to the sport?

It’s common but it’s unnecessary – if you have the skill, you don’t need the ego.

Float like a butterfly or sting like a bee?

Sting like a bee – my footwork is getting better, but I’d like to sting a bit more.

Whats your go-to get pumpedsong?

Drake is good, but I’ve got to go with Nikki Minaj, ‘Bees in the trap’ – it’s not going to be my walkout song if that’s what you’re thinking.


So there you have it – watch out for these three.