This April a promising event is launching for the first time in Kinkell Byre. One of St Andrew’s newest societies, St Andrews Fight Club, is hosting the first annual Fight Club night. On Tuesday 17 April, 600 students will descend on the venue to watch their nearest and dearest (or at least vague acquaintances) throw punches at each other in official boxing events. That’s right – the fights that you will be watching will be fought by students, and what’s more they will be fought by students who have only been fighting for 12 weeks. I sat down with Fight Club’s committee: Josh Hopkins, Joe Murray and Harry Bremner to pick their brains and find out exactly why they think this is the must-see event on the St Andrews calendar.
The Saint: How did you come up with the idea and was it a group effort?
Harry: A friend of mine knew about an event in Edinburgh that was similar and he suggested putting it on the St Andrews scene. I visited the coach in Dundee and saw some venues and sort of formed the plan.
Josh: Pretty much every university has something like this.
TS: How long has this been in the pipeline?
Harry: The idea came in March and that’s when I started putting the ideas together.
Josh: Logistics started in September, but it’s been in the pipeline for a while.
TS: What kind of training do they receive and from whom?
Josh: We get trained twice a week in Dundee at Navarro’s Fitness and Fighting Gym and there are two of three coaches helping out each session. Primarily Marc Navarro trains us. Just trying to get well equipped for the fight as well as all of us getting stronger and fitter. It’s pretty heavy stuff and requires a lot of commitment. Nobody has dropped out.
Joe: The coaches offer private sessions as well.
Harry: Having only beginners means that it’s really easy to see progress and that keeps people motivated.
TS: Why is it exclusively for beginners?
Harry: It means everyone is of the same standard and easier for the coach to evaluate progress of everyone.
Joe: We always match people to someone of the same ability.
Josh: Yeah, every fight is individual and the coach puts them together.
TS: As a fighter Josh what inspired you to get involved?
Josh: I’m the only one on the committee fighting on the night and I started doing box fit in the summer. I’ve never been good at self-exercise and having something to work towards has given me a sense of fulfilment. It was sort of a no-brainer from my point of view, but other people are also taking it as seriously as me. I can’t wait for it.
Joe: Harry and I have been going to a few sessions and it’s so much fun.
TS: How many applications did they have to fight?
Harry: We had close to ninety people applying so around 70 got turned down.
TS: How are you encouraging membership change for New Year?
Harry: Josh and I are leaving but we’ll be looking towards the group and recruit from the fighters.
Josh: Since it’s our thing and we came up with it it’s our responsibility to continue it. Having a three person team is so much better because it means we can pass things really easily rather than going through a ton of people – this will make it easier to continue.
Joe: Yeah I’ll still be here so I can run the show but I’m not worried about continuing the legacy. We have plenty of people interested.
TS: did you think of collaborating with different societies?
Harry: No because this is a completely different event, it’s not university affiliated and it’s beginners rather than people have been doing this for years.
Josh: We’re kind of sidestepping the bureaucracy of things. It was Harry’s idea and we were here and able to do it and so far it’s been successful.
Joe: we have a game plan.
TS: How long will the actual fighting be and what are people meant to do for the rest of the night?
Harry: The event is 3 rounds of 2 minutes per fight. We’ll have breaks between rounds so the last fight will be at 12:30/1 and we won’t have an after party but we’ll keep the bar open and DJs on. It’s predominantly a boxing event rather than just a night out in Kinkell Byre.
TS: What is the difference between VIP and normal – will normal be seated?
Harry: Normal is not seated; normal is standing in the raised area of Kinkell.
Joe: Kinkell Byre is perfect because the raised area means that everyone gets a good view. We’ve been very lucky with the layout; we’ve made sure everyone will be able to see.
Harry: Since it’s our first year we’ve been very conservative with selling tickets –we could sell 200 or so more but we want everyone to enjoy the event and not be overcrowded.
TS: How do you intend to revolutionize a somewhat overdone venue?
Joe: It’s a completely different event in St Andrews. I haven’t seen my friends fight in an intense boxing match with 600 people watching before.
Josh: A lot of people are trying to find new venues with the same old event. We’ve gone the other way with a new event with a commonly used venue.
TS: Will this event be boring for people who don’t necessarily have interest in fighting?
Harry: Would you like to see your friends fighting each other? We do this for the entertainment of the events. One way or another people all know each other in St Andrews. However at the same time we’ve put these people through a course to ensure it’ll be a good fight to watch.
Josh: We’re close to the brink of selling out and its two months away so clearly there’s interest. It comes down to the crux – it’s a novel event that people are keen to see: something new.
Joe: What we can guarantee as well is that the atmosphere will be intense – it’s going to be such an entertaining night. You don’t go to a ball to dance: you go for the atmosphere. Of course we’ve prioritised the sport but still it’ll be a good night for everyone involved.
TS: For a boxing beginner who’s afraid of blood – exactly how violent will it get?
Harry: There’ll probably be black eyes and bruised noses but there are safety precautions. It’s not bare knuckle fighting.
Joe: We have professional referees and the fights will go on record with the WKA.
TS: How did you come up with the nicknames for the fighters?
Josh: We come up with them ourselves. For example mine is based on a boxer called Anthony Joshua who I’m a fan of and it’s a reference to his rivalry with another boxer.
TS: Will there be betting on the events?
Harry: Strictly off limits – we don’t have a betting license and we don’t want any betting on the premises.
TS: Why should someone buy a ticket to this event?
Joe: It’s the most unique event in st Andrews this year by a mile. Buy a ticket to respect the effort the fighters have put in.
Harry: Because it’s an event that’s been spoken about in weeks before and will be spoken about for weeks after – you don’t want to miss out.
So there you have it – a fresh new take on a St Andrews night out that promises to be entertaining in every sense. Be quick though: tickets have almost sold out.