A lively crowd at the Oxford Union saw the Oxford University Amateur Boxing Club lose out narrowly at the annual Town vs Gown boxing event.
With 16 fights, pitching OUABC in the blue corner against town boxers in the red, the fixture staked its claim to be one of the most exhilarating University sporting events of the year.
The atmosphere was a lively one, each fight punctuated by the blaring out of a familiar chorus of ‘Feed ’em to the Lions’ or Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’. From the outset it was close. The first match pitted OUABC women’s captain Lydia Welham against Petra Banrtakova. Despite Banrtakova’s strength and quickness in the first round, Welham managed to reassert herself as the fight progressed, earning an impressive split decision win for the blue corner. OUABC’s Sasha Skourow and Ella Penny were less fortunate, losing out to stronger opposition.
A handful of fights pitched two Oxford students against one another. Tash Fairweather’s attritional win over Sofia Lindqvist was a standout moment, albeit a little gruesome. She ended the bout with her gloves covered in the blood of her opponent, much to the delight of the hysterical fans.
The OUABC’s men started strongly against their town opposition. Before the interval, Owen Karau and Chris Huang pulled off brilliant wins to put the gowns ahead. Owen was a particular force; rumour has it that the live stream was turned off for his fight, to prevent Cambridge from getting a preview of one of Oxford’s best assets before this year’s Varsity match. Meanwhile, Chris Huang took special pleasure bearing his muscles to the crowd and blowing kisses around the venue after his victory.
However, after the break the gowns succumbed to the town boxers from the particularly strong Blackbird Leys ABC.
The standout match of the evening was fought between OUABC’s Alec Murphy and the town’s Daniel Robinson. It was Robinson’s brawn against Murphy’s technique. For the first two rounds, Murphy put on an impressive show, slipping Robinson’s punches and landing some of his own. However, in the third Robinson seemed to have got the measure of his opponent and bounced back strongly, eventually claiming a win by the final bell. OUABC’s Gustav Dermen suffered a brutal defeat at the hands of Daniel Bogatinjous, although Ravi Hayer provided some respite for the blue of Oxford, weathering an onslaught from the young Djouly Mailereau before picking him off in the final round.
The night’s final fight saw Oxford’s Hugo Brewer end up on the receiving end of some monstrous punches from Shaun Yearwood. Ultimately, it was the town’s night.
The event was not without its more uncomfortable moments. Boxers and spectators shared the same bathrooms, and it was disturbing to see the potentially concussed town fighter Jamie Anderson throwing up into the sink, asking his coach, “I don’t understand. What’s going on?” moments after we had celebrated his defeat.
An event such as Town vs Gown necessarily lacks the anonymity of a professional fight, and at times it makes for bizarre viewing to sit behind a boxer’s parents as their son gets knocked around the ring like a punch bag.
Nevertheless, the University boxers gave a good account of themselves, the event living up to the hype as one of Oxford’s most popular sporting traditions today.