Londonist visits a white-collar boxing match in the heart of the East End.
The crowds gather at the world-famous York Hall in Bethnal Green in eager anticipation. This venue, which gained a last-minute reprieve from closure two years ago and has staged many famous boxing bouts, will this evening witness a series of white-collar amateur fights dubbed the 'Brawl in the Hall'.
We are given our programme on the way in. The first thing to note is the importance of a good moniker. 'Marvellous' Marvin Hagler, 'Sugar' Ray Leonard, Ricky 'Hitman' Hatton...none of these will be appearing. However, we will bear witness to the rising talents of Glenn 'The Barking Warrior' Welch, Jeff 'Dartford Destroyer' Foad and Mark 'The Italian Stallion' Giza. We also note that top raffle prize for the evening is six extreme one-to-one personal training sessions with Spencer 'The Spirit' Fearon. Terrifying. We'd rather it was a nice sponge cake.
The bar area is absolutely packed a full half-hour before the first bout and the contrast between the two main types of boxing fan is marked: City boys at one end and East End lads at the other. It's usually a combustible mix, but here the atmosphere is good and the presence of some of the hugest security men we've ever seen make any altercations extremely unwise.
There are thirteen bouts on the card tonight, each consisting of three two-minute rounds, and the crowd clearly have their favourites. After the first bout, we find it extremely difficult to work out who has won. Each fighter is given a medal by the organisers and each seems quite happy with their lot. It emerges later that there are no real 'winners' as such; these are non-contest fights in which the boxers are testing out their skills. The crowd don't seem to mind, most attention being paid to the scantily-clad ladies who parade round the ring between rounds.
As we reach the mid-evening interval we hear the biggest roar of the night so far - the fans of 'Baywatch' Brad Lacey, all dressed in a manner that would swell David Hasselhoff with pride, have spotted their man on his way to the ring. After an exciting bout, which looks like it might turn ugly after some posturing at the end of the first round, it all ends in smiles as the two pugilists embrace.
As we reach the end of the evening, the tension mounts in the area around us. Everyone here has come to see one man: John 'The Celtic Warrior' Duncan. The Belfast-born fighter recently made a return to the ring after years away and the Northern Irish support is out in force. Duncan puts in good work throughout, utilising the jab to good effect, and at the end everyone seems to agree that, were there to have been a victor, it would surely have been him.
The evening's events were organised by The Real Fight Club and anyone who is interested in taking up white-collar boxing can contact them via their web site.
By Paul Lambert.