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The Injustice of Fight Night

Updated: Mar 25

Another event waits on the horizon, lurking beneath the placid ocean of mundanity is a whale of a time, ready to breach your boredom. This one, a university staple. ‘Elite’ educational establishments up and down this great nation have a similar experience on offer. There’s something about watching your nearest and dearest, furthest and farthest, and all those in between, battle it out for nothing other than pride. Faces are condensed and distorted by both helmet and glove. Pasty pins protrude from peculiar shorts. Tatted triceps and spindly limbs are all on show. Baying crowds raise a cacophony of sound in support of their fighter. Unofficial bookies, last minute pull-outs, big swings, big misses — the drama, the suspense: it makes for an unmissable spectacle. As with most boxing bouts, controversy is not amiss, and this occasion is no different. There are a selection of injustices that in subtle ways, tarnish an otherwise stellar evening. My issue is a minor one, a gentle nag, a petty qualm, a probing thought; I don’t intend to majorly mar such a magnificence.

We know what Fight Night entails, it’s well documented, and further contributions of numerous loose-lipped fighters (one particularly gangly) have helped inform this article. After a highly competitive recruitment process and the filling out of a pesky form, the fighters are selected — no doubt a highly nepotistic process, in keeping with St Andrew’s long standing traditions. I’ve also heard that acceptance is highly influenced by whether or not one has a vehicle at their disposal. Despite all fights being sanctioned by an independent body, the amateur viewer might perceive there to be some glaring mismatches. For example, it’s feasible for a weedy and sheepish American to find themselves facing off with a great hulking Glaswegian whose combative credentials were honed on the terraces of Celtic Park, and none of us would enjoy that match up….right? Admittedly, these mismatches facilitate the possibility of some Rocky Balboa-Esque underdog tales, the likes of which we’ve seen and cherished when for example, Tony ‘El Maton’ Friere defied all expectation and put his formidable foe to the social sword in a fight for the ages. Predictably, however, Rocky cannot always be emulated and, more often than not, the underdog is trampled. In the vicious and unforgiving world of combat sports, that’s not always comfortable viewing, especially when it’s a familiar face meeting fist. Of course, the fighters do consent to such fixtures and have a right to pull out. Similarly, from what I gather, the standards of safety are adequate. So where does the injustice lie? Well believe it or not, there is more to Fight Night than just the fighters. There is a small committee pulling the strings behind the scenes, orchestrating the evening. In fairness, this must be a toilsome task, arranging the venue, finding the fighters, organising the training and so on, but don’t be mistaken, the committee are handsomely rewarded and share the profits between themselves. Not a cent goes to charity nor to the fighters who have risked life, limb, and many little grey cells for our entertainment. In fact, it is rumoured that last year one organiser took off with £2000, a serious payday for practicing the art of emailing.

Now in some sense, I think these entrepreneurs deserve some credit, they’ve seen a gap in the market and they fill it, along with their pockets. Turning the event charitable like the vast majority of other events on the illustrious St Andrews calendar may be a supererogatory request. So, I would suggest that the avaricious committee prize their no doubt already inflated craniums out from their derrieres and distribute the wealth to those who make the event what it is at potentially significant personal cost. Anyone can administrate, when all one does is inherit the formula and repeat it, but very few have the combination of fearlessness and perhaps stupidity to be willing to don the gloves and get frisky in front of all. Fighters are even made to purchase the majority of their kit which I can’t fathom to be cheap, meanwhile the organizers chuckle all the way to the bank, not leaving so much as a crumb for those battered and bruised. If I were a fighter I wouldn’t compete without fair compensation.

(Article written in advance of the Fight Night event that took place on 21 March 2023.)

This article was edited the 25th March 2023.

Photo: Unsplash

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