Students in the Ring:
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
This is St. Andrews Fight Night
Have you ever fancied yourself as a decent fighter the ring? Do you have someone in your head who you would quite like to fight? Fighting may be the last thing you would do, but how about watching your friends and fellow students scrap it out in the ring?
Well, this is Fight Night, and lucky for us it’s happening right here in St Andrews.
A bunch of Students. 12 Weeks of Training. 11 Fights.
St Andrews’ newest staple event takes students who have little or no boxing experience and provides them with 12 weeks of intensive training with some of Scotland’s top boxing coaches. The training culminates with 11 fights at a showdown event taking place next Tuesday at Kinkell Byre.
The dance floor is becoming the boxing ring at what is sure to be one of the most memorable nights on the University Calendar. The space is being transformed with the ring positioned in the middle of the room at Kinkell and VIP tables encircling it.
Like the vast majority of events in this town this is one that certainly puts a significant dent in the bank account, but those lucky ticket holders will be hoping that it will be well worth it to watch their friends and fellow students battle it out in this unique event.
Applications for fighting in this event opened at the beginning of Semester one and the fortunate chosen ones started their training after the Christmas break. The fighters needed to be available to attend their fully funded training twice a week to ensure that they were as prepared as they could be after only 12 weeks before stepping into the ring.
I caught up with two fighters, Bruno Steel and Rory Thain, who are going head-to-head in a second-year battle that is a particularly anticipated affair. The Edinburgh duo’s showdown is just one of the 11 fights that are becoming the talk of the town with speculation flying around about who could possibly take home the glory and pride that comes with a victory.
What made you want to be involved in Fight Night?
Bruno: To be honest, me and Rory had a few drinks when we decided we were going to apply, and we had been tagged on the Facebook page by some of our mates. In the back of my mind, I had always thought it would be such a cool experience, one that you wouldn’t get the opportunity to do anywhere else and what a way to try something new! We both didn’t expect to get accepted but when we found out we were fighting in January, we couldn’t believe it, all we could think is - okay now this is actually for real.
Rory: I have to say I was not too keen on the idea at first and I didn’t really want to do it but once the idea of me vs Bruno was being thrown around our mates it was difficult to say no! So, we signed up and the thought that I was going to get a couple months of proper training with professional coaches convinced me.
What has the training regime been like in your preparation for the fight?
Bruno: Two training sessions a week, both an hour and a half and they started off being more fitness based but then they moved to have more of a boxing element in them. I’ve been trying to go to the gym and trying to eat healthier and drink a bit less although it is obviously pretty challenging being at uni. I ran a marathon for Movember and after doing that I have a mindset which meant that I was always going to see it out until the end, there was no way I was ever going to drop out.
Rory: The two training sessions each week have been really enjoyable. I have loved doing something completely new especially as there is good group of us who are good mates, all in the same situation.
You are both members of the Rugby club so how has your involvement in your teams helped or hindered your training?
Bruno: I’ve been able to manage it well because rugby training is on different days to the fight night training which has been great because we are both able to fit them both into our week.
Rory: Yeah 100%. The extra fitness and the gym sessions certainly help. Just being used to playing a contact sport makes the transition into the ring so much easier.
Had you ever boxed before you signed up?
Bruno: Only a little bit. When I was 15 or 16 with my mate because he does ultra boxing so I trained with him but only a little for a couple months.
How are you feeling ahead of the fight?
Bruno: I’m feeling quite confident, quietly confident. I think that Rory has got the label of being the favourite and all of the boys in the Rugby team are backing him up so I’ve given myself the title of the underdog.
Rory: I am actually feeling surprisingly relaxed right now but I am sure that as it becomes closer to the night the nerves will start to build up. I just don’t want my nose broken!
What’s been the highlight of the journey so far?
Bruno: I caught Rory with a great right hook the other day in training which gave him a proper blow to the head! Apart from that I’ve loved meeting new people whilst getting into a new sport.
Rory: I would say landing right hooks on Bruno in sparring has to be the highlight.
Do you have any pre-fight superstitions or rituals?
Bruno: Massive bowl of pasta the night before. Weetabix, toast, fruit, my standard breakfast. Keeping my food regular is the only thing, no particular superstitions.
Rory: Can’t say I do.
What has the dynamic been like between you both since you signed up?
Bruno: We give each other a lot of chat, initially I was the louder one giving all the chat but now Rory does give it to be back.
Rory: It’s been a great laugh to be fair, Bruno gives far more chat than his boxing ability should allow for so hoping he can back up his chat on the day!
What has the response been from your family and friends to signing up?
Bruno: My mum and dad were quite keen on coming to watch but I spoke to Rory about it and we decided maybe the parents shouldn’t see us in the ring together.
Rory: My mum wasn’t too keen on the idea of me stepping into the ring, but my mates were unsurprisingly extremely keen.
What are both of your walk out tunes?
Bruno: ‘Take Me Out’ – Franz Ferdinand.
Rory: ‘Don’t Stop The Party’ – Pitbull. Quite middle of the road but it definitely does the job.
Are you a boxing fan? If so, who is your boxing inspiration?
Bruno: Canelo Álvarez, watching the way he moves his head, definitely him.
Rory: Matt from wii sports!
Do you see yourself stepping into the ring after Fight Night?
Bruno: Not unless the rugby goes downhill! I would be interested in being part of the organisation of the event though in the future.
Rory: I’ll probably retire undefeated, but if I need to beat Bruno again next year, I’m more than happy.
With that great insight from the two fighters, and less than 5 days until they take each other on, the town is patiently anticipating one of the most exciting events held in St Andrews. Let’s hope that the two of them are still good mates, after all, only one can be crowned the winner.
Rory and Bruno are just two of those taking on the ring and the names of the other fighters are as follows:
Sam Saunders, Antony Freire, Adam Fotheringham, Georgie Murrin, Ben Murrin, Carleton Blackwell, Kitty Brannigan, Charlotte Thomas, Giancarlo Brignone, Grace Surgent, Christopher Fredette, Alex Wolf, Armand Erpf, Brage R. Heltzen, Maisie Lock Ørstavik, Patxi Irazu, Paulina Kachalova, Sarah Mackel and finally Yash Madan!
With Fight Night events being held all across UK Universities and a huge success in cities such as Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and London, St Andrews is just one of many university towns to hold the Fight Night event this year.
Fight Night is one event that will go down in university history, as will those who compete in it.
Wishing all the fighters an exciting, competitive contest after all their hard work will be put on show this Tuesday. Just think – it is more than most of us would do!
If you want you can take Rory and Bruno’s advice: If they win or lose the way they will be celebrating is with “pints - lots of them!”
Tune back into the next edition of The Saint for a recap of the affair brought to you by yours truly.
Image: Ollie Grimes