The past year has been brutal on our bodies and our minds. Enough. This summer, it’s time to fight back – literally.
Square Mile has partnered with The White Collar Fight Club, a brilliant organisation that stages white collar boxing shows with all proceeds going to the mental health charity Mind. And we want you to join us in the ring.
Unlike most white collar organisations, there is no fee required of combatants. All WCFC ask is you raise or donate a minimum of £50 for Mind via its JustGiving Page and sell a minimum of 20 tickets to friends, family and colleagues.
In exchange you will be provided with an eight-week fight camp to whip you into the best shape of your life. This includes two weekly combat sessions, and a weekly strength and conditioning workout to shed those lockdown pounds.
Then it’s off to the Troxy nightclub where you will take on one of your fellow fighters in front of a packed crowd. WCFC will ensure you’re matched with someone of a similar level to ensure maximum safety and no blowouts.
Still unsure? We spoke to former contestant Stephen Lynch about his experience with the Fight Club.
What was your motivation in signing up for White Collar Fight Club?
I fancied the challenge. I love training, exercising. It excited and scared me in the right kind of way.
I knew when I signed up that it would put positive pressure on me to get my act together. Train properly, eat properly and so on.
Positive pressure is a great phrase. Is that the mentality you sustained for the whole experience?
Yes, absolutely. I had to be disciplined. I had to wake up early to travel to Victoria. Up at ridiculous o'clock, watching the Rocky videos on my phone on the tube over! That positive pressure stayed with me throughout.
I look back on it really, really positively. It brought such good energy. I loved the camaraderie of the training and sparring with our group. I loved telling people about it, my colleagues and friends. The excitement built the closer we got to fight night. It was a magic experience, really.
That camaraderie – it's very much a group mentality? Everyone in this together?
That's absolutely right. There were a couple of characters in my group, we were roughly the same weight. We were conscious we might get matched with each other, which made for an interesting dynamic. We were cheering each other on, encouraging each other, but also scoping each other out.
There was a lot of fun, joking around. I made some friends I'm still in contact with, even met a partner out of it! Really good things happened from the experience. I had this confidence, self-assurance that spread into other areas of life.
What lifestyle changes did you make?
I completely swore off the booze for the whole training camp of two months. That led me to give up alcohol completely – I haven't had a proper drink for a few years now.
I researched my food intake, improved my diet. It was a very holistic experience: improving one aspect of my life, my fitness, had a knock on effect to other areas.
Presumably the fight makes it much easier to stick to these plans?
You're absolutely right. That fear, basically. That fear of having that event, the fight night, with friends and family, colleagues, coming to watch. That makes the fighters train extra hard. That positive pressure makes it easier to wake up early, do the runs, sprints, shadowboxing.
We were arranging sparring sessions on the side as well. It's almost like a sword of Damocles hanging over the fight. Being decisively engaged: got a fight coming up, everyone knows I'm doing it, and the only way out of this scenario is to face it and fight out way through it – literally in our case.
How was the ring walk?
To be honest, I was anxious during the ring walk. There's no way of replicating that feeling. Sparring is great but sparring doesn't come close.
It's almost like a penalty shootout: you can take the practice penalties in training but it's not the same as taking a penalty in a World Cup Final. That's what I found with the ring walk.
My coach said to me, 'right, tunnel vision' as my music started to play. I could see my people, cheering, waving placards and stuff. I found it to be a challenge. It was a new thing, a bit disorientating.
And the fight itself?
I carried that nervous energy into the ring for the first round. Then it's real. I step between the ropes. The referee is there. My opponent is there. We're looking each other in the eye. We're there for business. We're not there to lose.
I started quickly. That was always my gameplan: using my fitness, land the jab, frustrate him. In hindsight I was probably burning a lot of nervous energy, fighting too herky-jerky.
The rest of the fight was a bit of a blur to be honest. The third round in particular was a bit of a slugfest! My coach told me to put it on the opponent – and I maybe took that a bit too literally!
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How did you feel on hearing the draw verdict?
Yeah, it was disappointing. I got my hand raised – but so did my opponent! It was a strange moment. I took it on the chin to use a bad pun. It wasn't just the outcome of the fight. It was the whole experience.
How was the night out afterwards?
Oh, brilliant. Getting back on the booze, having a few drinks and a dance. My fight was in November. It was a great way to end the year.
And presumably raising money for Mind was a further bonus...
Yes, the fundraising was a big part of it. Things like this have a tremendous impact. There's loads of people who have managed to turn their life around and find themselves in stuff like boxing. Giving oneself to something that's very difficult, very challenging.
There's pain involved, mental and physical. But after the fight, the challenge, there can be real moments of calm and serenity and contentment. There's something to be said for people proactively seeking out these opportunities. It’s great for mental health.