US origins of the sportEdit
The sport first came to prominence in mid-1990s New York City. According to a 2004 Business Week article, by that year over 65% of New York's famed Gleason's Gym membership was from a white collar background. The same article said that 70% of the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood were white collar boxers.
Event management consultant Alan Lacey, who co-promoted the Gary Stretch vs. Chris Eubank WBO middleweight championship bout in 1991, belatedly discovered boxing training at the age of 45. Captivated and motivated by the discipline over the following years, he started training under former European Champ Jimmy McDonnell and alongside 2 time Olympian and World title challenger Adrian Dodson, who having spent most of his youth at Gleason’s in New York suggested Lacey to fulfill his ambition to box, even at the age of 48, and arranged for him to visit Gleason's Gym and box there. On the flight back to London, Lacey decided White Collar Boxing could flourish in London.
In July 2000, the inaugural White Collar Boxing event, in collaboration with Gleason's owner Bruce Silverglade, saw a team of Wall Street bankers fly to London to compete on "Capital Punishment" at Broadgate Arena in the City, generating massive interest and media coverage. Lacey boxed twice on the night and subsequently devoted his time and energy to developing the sport exclusively since. Over 100 sold out events have followed "Capital Punishment", including “Celebrity Boxing” on the BBC in 2003 featuring, among others, Les Dennis, Ricky Gervais and Grant Bovey, and raising more than ₤1.5 million for various charities.
The Real Fight Club's first gym opened in the heart of the City in 2006, offering an authentic boxing experience in a safe and well managed environment. Throughout the recent recession, surprisingly the gym became even busier, providing an outlet to vent stress and frustration for those hit by the banking crash. It currently counts over 550 active members drawn from the banking and legal professions.
Bristol (UK) is the home of Zero To Hero White Collar Boxing and was launched in September 2012. Contenders sign up for a 10 week training programme which culminates in a fight night at the end to showcase the achievements of the Contenders. Contenders train together for 6 weeks at which point they are matched and then split into their respective Red & Blue camps for the final 4 weeks of the programme under Principle trainers & supporting instructors who also act as their corner team on fight night. Contenders are matched on factors such as weight, technical ability, spirit & physical fitness by the Principle trainers & programme directors. The programme offers Contenders a once in a lifetime chance to compete on a grand stage in a professional and safe environment.
The start of regulationEdit
In 2001, Lacey and Bruce Silverglade co-founded the International White Collar Boxing Association (IWCBA), the first and to this day main advisory and sanctioning body in the field, designed to regulate the bouts with a focus on safety. The IWCBA uses the same weight divisions of professional boxing and awards a belt to the champions of each weight category. Matchmaking of non-title bouts is based on level of experience as much as actual weight. It also rigorously requires the presence of an experienced doctor an anesthetist and a paramedic unit at ringside as well as thorough medical checks. Over 1,500 bouts have been sanctioned by the IWCBA over the years, with zero injuries aside from bloody noses. In 2007, the World White Collar Boxing Association (WWCBA) was founded in London to regulate and promote the sport throughout the world. The WWCBA provides a common platform in the form of rules and guidelines allowing boxers to become ranked nationally, regionally and globally and to contest for championship titles. In 2008 the WWCBA sanctioned 9 events throughout the world. The WWCBA works with local and regional boxing authorities such as AIBA to ensure strong standards.
Bouts are usually three two-minute rounds, unlike the longer 3×3 minutes in the Amateur Code for men and 4×2 minutes for women. The UK and US versions have traditionally been "no decision" but the many events in Asia Pacific are contested under WWCBA sanctioning and thus require a decision. Prominent promoters of white-collar boxing include Vanda Promotions in Asia Pacific (Hong Kong and Singapore), and Fight Knights, Ringtone Gym, The Real Fight Club and Cityboxer, all in London. In April 2009, the largest White Collar Boxing event in the world took place at Suntec Exhibition and Convention Centre according to a BBC report. Staged by Vanda Promotions, more than 900 people attend the black-tie event and watched seven bouts.
On Saturday, 18 July 2009, the Channel Island of Jersey held its first White Collar Boxing event. Nine fights were watched by over 600 paying black-tied guests at the Hotel de France, raising around £15,000 for local charities.
On 17 November 2012, the first season fight night of Zero To Hero was held at the City Academy in Bristol and was attended by over 1200 guests, making it the largest event of white-collar boxing to have taken place of this kind in the world to date. 32 contenders competed, facing up to three two-minute rounds each with eight bouts being won by the Blue Camp and eight by the Red Camp. All bouts ended in a decision either by points or TKO.
On 13 October 2012, Neilson Promotions, a Swindon-based white collar boxing promotor, put on the largest show of its kind to date. A venue verified attendance of 1398 watched ten contests at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon with the main event seeing Dave 'Bam Bam' Gregory retain his NP Heavyweight title against Rich 'The Tank' Loveday over three rounds.
On sat 1st dec 2012, Swindon Fightclub promotions put on the largest show to date, with a attendance of 1600 people. As they watched 9 fantastic bouts at the Meca Venue (http://www.mecaswindon.co.uk). Fights included seeing local heavyweight champ "Big" Phil Williams claim 1st place in the heavyweight Prizefighter, and former professional Craig Leadbeater return to the ring.
16 oz. gloves are standard in the white collar boxing ring in order to protect competitors from heavy blows and hand injuries. Some gyms permit 14 oz. gloves as well for lighter weight classes and female competitors. Moreover, headgear, groin protectors, and mouthguards are essential requirements inside the ring.
- Business Week article on White Collar Boxing
- USA Today article
- BBC article on Real Fight Club and criticism from the British Boxing Board of Control
- Independent article on white collar boxers risking injury
- Daily Telegraph article on Boodles Boxing Ball attended by Princes Harry and William
- The London Paper on white collar boxing
- BBC Article on largest White Collar Boxing event held in Singapore, April 2000
- The Independent, Sunday 9 July 2000"White collar warriors will live out their fantasies as Broadgate prepares for "Capital Punishment"
- The Evening Standard, Friday 14 July 2000,"The City Fight Club"
- The Times, Saturday 15 July 2000, "City brokers trade blows with Wall Street",
- The Telegraph.co.uk, July 2002, "Sport Relief wants to see you on July 12",
- The Daily Mail, Sunday 20 October 2002, "Is this celebrity match really what we want on tv?",
- London Evening Standard Article The Gloves are on-London's Boxing Boom retelling the story of The Real Fight CLub with extra details, 25 March 2011
- Fight Club (novel)
- Fight Club (film)