Think boxing and you probably think of huge prize-fights in Las Vegas with millions of dollars and world title belts on the line. Or of hardscrabble neighbourhoods where men in dirty gyms pummel bags and spar with old guys holding pads.
But there’s a different kind of boxing emerging — ‘white-collar boxing’, featuring matches between middle and upper-class people who have good jobs, often working in the City. They fight in fancy venues while their friends sip expensive cocktails as they watch.
There are no statistics on how many people in Britain take part in white-collar boxing, but its popularity appears to have exploded in the last few years.
So Business Insider set about infiltrating the training camps, nightclubs, and expensive events that make up white-collar boxing.
Last week we were given the chance to go along to two of London’s most highly anticipated white-collar boxing events over the course of a weekend, and it was pretty fun. Check out what went on when we delved into the crazy, decadent world of posh, white-collar boxing.
The first event we went to was the Raffles Rumble, hosted by the super-fancy nightclub Raffles on Chelsea's Kings Road. The event was held just down the road in the Old Post Office.
When Business Insider first arrived the event was fairly quiet, but things kicked off pretty quickly.
The basic premise of so-called 'white-collar boxing' is that people working in normal jobs train like professional fighters for a few weeks, before getting in the ring for three 2-minute rounds of boxing.
Some white-collar events are pretty serious, but both we went to were meant to be fun, and were raising money for charity. The Raffles Rumble was supporting Big Change, a charity dedicated to helping improve the lives of underprivileged children. That said, some people got pretty into it.
Many of the fighters were pretty posh, working in high-end careers. Amongst the fighters at the Raffles Rumble was Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing. He was fairly confident. 'I've got the speed and the combinations, I'm like Manny Pacquiao.'
Jamie's confidence was a little bit misplaced, and he ended up losing to his opponent Hamish Ross, a former private school boy and investment banker who is now general manager at Raffles.
One of the classic depictions of white-collar boxing is from the film Fight Club, where the sport is shown as a brutal series of battles in seedy locations. At the Raffles Rumble there was a lot more vodka, and glamorous ring girls all over the venue.
Along with the fighting, Raffles had put on lots of other entertainment. For example, Big John was taking on all challengers on the electronic punching bag.
While this guy went for the unorthodox technique of headbutting the machine. It didn't go very well ...
Even the burger van at the Raffles Rumble was posh, selling Vietnamese duck and pork burgers, and Truffle fries for more than $A20!
The best of posh Chelsea society turned out to support their friend Jamie, and others. Fellow Made in Chelsea stars James Dunmore and Lucy Watson were pretty excited for the fight.
While the main room of the Raffles Rumble was pretty glamourous, the downstairs area where the boxers were getting ready was a little less so. The organisers had clearly forgotten to clear up after a Halloween party, because there were decorations left all over the place. You can see cobwebs here as the boxers get their pre-match safety briefing.
Some of the fights didn't exactly last long. George Lineker, son of the former England footballer Gary lost in the first round, and the first fight of the night lasted less than a minute. This guy was pulled from the fight because he couldn't defend himself.
This is one of the biggest criticisms of white-collar boxing. Fighters sometimes fail to prepare properly, meaning that there can be big differences between the strength and stamina of opponents.
Even though some fighters don't prepare properly, the sport is pretty safe. One experienced fighter we spoke to said 'It's super safe. Not many people get hurt, not many people get KOed and there's hardly ever any blood. It's a safe, exhilarating sport.' Loren Oakley, Raffles' marketing manager was one of the only fighters to be knocked down during the event.
The fighters wear so much padding that punches often don't cause much damage. One of the boxers, Timo Weber told us that despite losing, getting punched in the face didn't even hurt. We're not sure if he was just trying to be brave!
The Raffles Rumble ended with a big confetti explosion and Jamie Laing asking everyone to 'Get f****d up'. Raffles' owner summed the night up saying 'It's about sport, and it's about two people getting into a ring and doing battle wherever they're from, and doing it for charity.'
Our second event of the weekend was the Pound for Pound challenge, held in the very appropriately named Grand Connaught Rooms in the West End of London. The place was absolutely huge!
The event was in aid of the Collective Sports Foundation, a charity that aims to get kids into sport. It was black tie and was meant to feel like a Monte Carlo casino.
Tables at the Pound for Pound Challenge cost $4,200 each. Only the rich need apply! Once again the booze was flowing pretty steadily (posh boxers love vodka!)
At the event, Business Insider met Joe Fournier, a millionaire nightclub owner and businessman, who took up white-collar boxing a few years ago. He recently turned professional and had his first pro fight in the Dominican Republic in October.
Fournier, who is a former professional basketball player, took up boxing when he bought his first ever bar 'My first ever bar I owned was with a former World Champion boxer. He kind of got me into it. I was getting fat like every businessman, I had nothing else to do.'
He believes that the sport has business advantages: 'It gets you focused for business because your mind's clear, you're not drinking. Every time I train for a fight my business does better, and my body gets better.'
'You meet new friends. There's so many people who are white collar fighters that I've met, and ended up doing business deals with.
Hootan Ahmadi -- a football agent and businessman who was the main organiser of the Pound for Pound Challenge -- thinks the sport is a good way of letting people vent their aggression: 'I owned a night club for a few years, and in clubs everyone's always saying 'I'm gonna do this to him, I'm gonna do that to him' and I just thought, you know what, go on then!'
Alongside the action at the Pound for Pound Challenge was an auction, where some of the super wealthy guests spent thousands of pounds on sports memorabilia.
The amount of testosterone on show was seriously impressive at some points. Wilfred Wilson, another boxer who works in Chelsea's clubs, was seriously pumped after winning his fight.
All the boxers had different reasons for their involvement. Sophie Raibin, a hospitality consultant and self proclaimed party animal was one of only two female fighters on the Pound for Pound bill. 'I started doing boxercise for exercise when I was 22. At that time I'd just lost my father and it was a good way to ease the tension. Then I just fell in love with the sport and I've always wanted to do a charity event ever since.'
Jydey LeFizz, a marketing and PR man for some of Chelsea's poshest clubs (and owner of London's best name), was one of the less enthusiastic boxers, and clearly wasn't quite as into posh boxing as some others. 'The training's been painful, but hopefully its been worth it. No drinking, no smoking, no partying, no late nights, no anything. I'm looking forward to tonight being over.'
He was boxing after being challenged by DJ Chad Tyson 'To be honest the guy I'm fighting asked to fight me and I wasn't going to turn him down. I don't know if he's got an issue, but we'll sort it out.'
Steve Holdsworth, a former pro boxer we spoke to summed up the attraction of posh boxing events 'The great thing about it is that people come along to these shows because they know that the fights aren't fixed, they come to see their mates fight. Brothers and mums, and dads come along to see their sons, and it's just a great night out.'
'Put it this way, two men who may have worked together, played together, fought together, when they get in the ring, everything else disappears, and all it is is classic opposition. And of course you want to be better than your opponent, it's as simple as that' he added.
Posh, white-collar boxing may be an excuse for London's wealthy elite to drink alot of vodka and cheer on their friends. But ultimately these events give people an outlet for aggression, get them fit, and most importantly, provide a great way to raise money for charity.
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