Safety first at Clapham’s white-collar boxing gym

By Jack Miller

The tragic death of a man in Nottingham following a boxing match last month has once again put the world of so-called ‘white-collar’ boxing under the microscope.

Lance Ferguson-Prayogg died in hospital after mysteriously collapsing minutes after his bout, and tributes have poured in from boxing communities across the country.

Claims the sport is unsafe with some fights resembling a ‘cowboy ring’ have been made for years. 

Now people within the sport are calling for firmer regulations regarding the amount of training for participants before they get into the ring, and what has to be required on the night to keep them safe.

Boxing Promoter at 12 Rounds Boxing gym in Clapham, John Bryson, insisted that promoters in South West London were making every effort to ensure the safety of fighters, training them properly before allowing them between the ropes.

“Safety is a key part of white-collar boxing promotion, and it’s the number one priority for me,” he said. 

“That’s why when I promote a fight the most important thing is to put the boxers through a strict training programme, so that when they do get into the ring they can defend themselves.

“When we get a complete beginner in the gym we have 12 complete weeks to train them up. We go through the fundamentals of boxing, and from there we look to get them in a position to get in the ring safely.”

The term ‘white-collar boxing’ is often associated with frustrated city boys, and was made famous by Brad Pitt’s 1999 Blockbuster Fight Club.

But the use of the term has widened and has become more of a catchphrase for anything from amateur boxing up to the professionals at the very top.

The sport has taken off in London in recent years, both in terms of participants and spectators (it’s not unusual for over 700 people to turn up), and there are an increasing number of reputable matches being hosted all over the capital.

There will be a doctor, an ambulance outside, a referee, and judges all there to ensure the fights are not only entertaining, but safe as well.

12 Rounds Boxing’s events are just one example of the hundreds of events put on in London every year, and run at The Clapham Grand every month.

Mr Bryson added: “There’s been a real rise in white-collar in London. I think perhaps the success of boxing in the Olympics has raised the profile of the sport.

“It’s one of those things where once you gather the momentum, more and more people see their peers and colleagues do it and think they would like to give it a try.”

SWLondoner was on hand at the last white-collar night to see first hand what it takes to run one of these events safely.

Boxing Review:

The matches on the night ranged from first-timers to experienced boxers, but all were carried out safely with medics and a referee monitoring the fighters, many of whom had been trained by Mr Bryson himself.

On the night, Jake ‘The Snake’ Humble and Mitch ‘Buster’ Duffus triumphed in their respective title fights as a packed show saw finance experts, roofers, hairdressers and even a managing director take to the ring.

The performance of the night went to 26-year-old Humble who dominated Mark Porter to take the LBC light-heavyweight belt with a unanimous judges’ decision. 

Humble looked the stronger from the start and worked well behind a solid jab. He had his man in trouble and against the ropes on a number of occasions, and in all honesty Porter did well to make it through the four rounds against a much classier opponent.   

Humble by name, humble by nature, the new title holder said he was going to celebrate by going home and going to bed after claiming a points victory. 

The main event of the night saw Duffus defeat Danny ‘the Hammer’ Hutchison to claim the WBU Southern area title. 

Duffus made light work of his opponent in the opening round, landing two punishing left hooks to Hutchinson’s head which left the referee no alternative but to jump in and give Duffus a quick victory. 

The fight of the night saw 28-year-old scaffolder Danny Anderson take on Lukasz in a fierce contest.

Both men threw big punches throughout but Lukasz looked to be landing the heavier blows and a big right hander drew blood from Anderson’s nose in the second round. 

With the fight in the balance another big right hand from Lukasz put Anderson on the canvass early on in the third round. However the decision went the way of Anderson and Lukasz was left speechless.

Also in action, Frank Sibley triumphed over ‘Dangerous’ Danny Graham in the battle of the roofers. Fans favourite Nick ‘Locky Balboa’ Lockwood was outclassed by finance expert James ‘Deadly’ Dedman.

Portsmouth’s Danny ‘The Nightmare’ Knight narrowly lost out to Owen ‘The Gaelic Warrior’ and the only female contest of the night saw Dora ‘The Destroyer’ Nana live up to her name and out box Charlotte Kernan. 

Photo courtesy of Josh Daly, with thanks. 
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