Fight Night certainly has a unique selling point and there is not an event in St Andrews that could possibly compare to the rollercoaster of emotions that are felt over the course of the evening.
Since the last issue of The Saint where I previewed St Andrews Fight Night I had the pleasure of attending one of the most sought after events in town. A black-tie, prosecco-fuelled crowd were roaring on their fellow students on 21 March at Kinkell Byre in what was, for many reasons, an unforgettable night in the social calendar. There have been few negative reviews of the night and students had wholeheartedly positive things to say about the event.
Prior to the night, there was much speculation about the VIP tickets, which cost £70, and what benefits this consists of in comparison to the £50 standard ticket. If you were lucky enough to have a VIP ticket, you were dosed with prosecco upon arrival, having five bottles per table consisting of 10 people, half a bottle each. If this drink was not sufficient for you and you were still thirsty, you also had access to a specific bar which had restricted access for standard ticket holders.
The focus of the night is of course boxing and there was a VIP viewing area which encircled the ring, certainly giving you a better, close-up view of the action. In comparison to last year, the VIP tickets undoubtedly gave you more perks however I am not advocating for you to part with 70 pounds next year; however, if you do have a casual extra 20 pounds, as students do, then it does give you benefits that do make the experience of the night that added a bit more exuberant and a sprinkle of luxury about it. This is not to say that with a standard ticket you had an obstructed view as these ticket holders had a more elevated view of the ring which was further away, but still gave you ample room to watch the punches being thrown.
After all the fights had taken place, and the floor had the remnants of various artistic cardboard signs to support their friends, everyone was quickly ushered away from the VIP viewing area and encouraged to grab a refreshing drink. Spectators gossiping about the fights, giving criticism and praises on the fights with their apparent newfound boxing knowledge.
Whilst this was occurring, the boxing ring was swiftly being dismantled so that the area could transform into a dance floor. Before you knew it, the ring had disappeared, the DJ was playing his set and the crowd attempted to transform into dancers. When you were exhausted from either watching the fights, fighting in the ring, or giving it your all on the dancefloor, the buses away from Kinkell Byre, seemed swift and efficient unlike other events where it has simply been a nightmare to get thrown on the bus. The buses to the venue, like most events had long queues but moved as quickly as can be expected.
The night seemed a huge success for all those involved and speaking to fighter Maddy McCourt she emphasised how “the night is about entertaining the people and making myself proud”, that certainly was the case and the way that every fighter competed was admirable. The students who were part of Fight Night had to attend multiple training sessions a week in Dundee and McCourt said that her motivation for signing up was the appeal of “forced and assigned training”; she “absolutely loved the training”. Her motivation to sign up was motivated by the training and she emphasised that knowing you are “boxing in front of hundreds of people gets your butt out of bed and into the gym!”
Despite this, there have been queries raised about the availability of accessing extra personal training sessions, outside of the dedicated sessions. Third year student Bertie Ratsey, who unfortunately had to pull out of his fight due to medical reasons, told me that “some students who were fighting had paid for extra lessons'' which is well within their right however does raise frustrations for some, who feel this could possibly generate an issue of who is able to pay for these lessons and how much this increases your skill level. McCourt said “ We’ve trained all together, gals and guys mixed, throughout the process which has been awesome - no one has been left behind in the training and we’ve all received the same treatment, prep and attention.”
I admire students who put themselves in the ring, dedicating time and having to be disciplined over the course of the training. Understandably, if feasible you can increase your skill set in any way by attending extra sessions that you pay for then most of us, I am sure, would, if we could! Whether this should be allowed has been debated, however, one thing is for sure, the fighters should be made aware of this beforehand as this may have an impact on their desire to get in the ring.
Two of the organisers Adam and Rory were “there to turn to throughout preparation” McCourt said. “They both fought in last year’s Fight Night so we have always been able to ask them questions or go to them for reassurance if we’re ever feeling a little nervous or not in the know.” I spoke to Maddy McCourt leading up to her fight and she said that it's going to be a “pretty surreal but totally unforgettable night, shared with so many people and new friends".
Unforgettable- it certainly was. There is nothing quite like watching your fellow student sweat it out in the ring and all of the fighters who trained did themselves proud.
Image: Hannah Peart