On the 22nd of February, Third Space at the Student Union was injected with the atmosphere of a Rocky movie. The room was drenched in the heavy bass erupting from the grills of the surrounding speakers as the crowd sipped the ensemble of beverages that the union had prepared. At 7:45 PM the fighters from both sides marched through the purple barriers, funnelled through the Portsmouth colours towards their opponents.
The fourteen fighters, seven from Portsmouth Gym O1 and seven from the Exeter University
boxing club, were hemmed inside the blue and white ropes of the boxing ring. They stared each other down, cheers rippling from around the room, assessing the confidence and brawn of their adversaries. The tension between the competing universities was palpable as the heavyweights stood at one end and the flyweights at the other, like a row of Russian dolls. After shaking hands, the lights were dimmed and the ring was bathed in an electric blue light as the first fighters took to the ring with their home crowds bellowing support.
The bouts that ensued were spectacular examples of amateur boxing. The opening match between Exeter’s Alex Rodriguez and Portsmouth’s Joe Herron was a gruelling war of attrition. Herron dominated with heavy jabs and Rodriguez returned fire valiantly, despite a wound to the face. Portsmouth’s Angus Ridgley slashed against his rival with gusto, despite being unable to spar a few months back due to an injury.
The heavyweights James Cook (Portsmouth) and Richard Ashton (Exeter) delivered crippling blows to one another, clattering each other fiercely for three rounds of two minutes. The night came to a satisfying conclusion, with Gym O1 taking its sweep of the medals and showing integrity to the rival Exeter team throughout the event.
To all who: subjected themselves to such mental and physical test of competing, organised the event and volunteered their services on the night and bought tickets to support Fight Night, I
applaud you and your dedication to the cherished sport of boxing.