I dare you to try and not be entertained when the man that is Glenn McCormack is on the mic. Go on, just try.
That’s what I thought.
Fight Club UK are back in the ring for a fifth round of their popular white-collar martial arts showcase, all in the name of charity. Over the past few years, Pete Mercer, Steve Dossett and Aaron Green have been stunning local fans with their hard-hitting novice boxers – the majority of whom are fighting out of Pete’s very own Mercer Academy in Woking, Surrey.
To say they put on a show is an understatement; from first-timers stepping into the ring to well-knowns on the local circuit, October 6th was a night to remember from the get-go. An electrifying crowd made sure that each fighter felt their welcome – from the ladies’ vicious yet calculated K1 bout to the stone-cold composure of Alex Williams during his second round KO, each contender gave an awe-inspiring effort. In white collar match-ups, competitors have just three two-minute rounds – the cardio required of which none of us mere mortals could hope to comprehend – to show their stuff. And take advantage of that short time they did.
I caught up with Sarah Maguire after the show, who is now celebrating both her first competitive fight along with her first win – a performance of aggression, endurance and determination saw her hand raised in the end. Sarah, who works as an Office Manager in Woking, completed just a 6-week training camp leading up to her bout during which Pete, along with his wife, Vicki Mercer, put her through her paces in sparring, fitness and technique; “Some days you think, what am I even doing?” she says about the weeks leading up to the fight, “And others you just think: I’ve got this. I can do this.” After falling into K1 completely by accident, the goal was always to compete, even if just the once: “I had a point to prove to myself that I’m mentally strong enough, and it turns out I am.” Attributing her win to an amalgamation of hard work and solid game-planning, Sarah’s performance was one of pure heart and ardour – not to take away the equally impressive start from her opponent, Louise Dowden, also debuting, who knocked her opponent to the canvas not once but twice during the first round. “I thought she had me there – I thought this is it, it’s over,” says Sarah, “But the only voice I could hear was Pete’s. In that situation, you just keep going.”
Facing off your opponent in the ring is one thing; training with them beforehand is a different story altogether, as Bradley Roberts and Alex Davison found out. The boys train alongside one another at the Mercer Academy and decided to put their skills to the test in a last-minute match up. Bradley’s impeccable head movement and slippery footwork eventually found him victorious of a close decision win after an awesome display of boxing skill and grit; moreover, truly admirable sportsmanship between the two of them.
Adding gravity to the fifth instalment of the event was the affable presence of Grant Waterman, arguably Europe’s finest and current UFC referee. With his irrefutable background in combat sports, and having competed against fundamental royalty – namely the legendary Fedor Emelianenko – Grant’s energy and expertise in the ring gave an edge of authenticity and professionalism to the night otherwise unseen in white collar boxing.
Ending the night in stunning fashion was highly touted semi-pro Brendon Moore (3-0 and keeping busy); the heavyweight wasted no time in delivering a brutal knockout to the hometown favourite, James Ayres – not a result for his opponent to be ashamed of given Moore’s combat career gaining evermore momentum as of this year. Brendon’s undeniable confidence (not to mention the power in those hands) gives an air of experience far beyond his relatively few bouts to date – boxing is in his blood, and he’s one to watch as he moves through the ranks in the UK over the coming months.
Having raised thousands of pounds for charity so far, Fight Club UK is going from strength to strength. Far from the “blood sport” that it’s often touted as, boxing requires an incredible degree of discipline, determination and ultimately courage – it’s impossible not to be impressed by the show these guys put together every time, furthermore raising money for a fantastic cause. Whether you want to come and show your support, or your feet are itching to put on those boxing shoes, December the 8th and Fight Club’s next date is set to be a cracking night. Contact Pete Mercer here for information on tickets, taking part (all levels) and sponsorship opportunities.
Photo credits: Mark Clarence. Thank you!