The University of St Andrews Boxing Club and St Andrews Fight Club have become embroiled in a war of words over licensing and safety, with allegations being made of hypocrisy and bringing boxing into disrepute.
On 15 April, the day before the Fight Club event in Dundee, the Boxing Club issued a Facebook statement condemning it as White Collar boxing, making it unlicensed, dangerous, and an affront to amateur boxing.
In response, Fight Club insisted that its event was safe and cast doubt over the Boxing Club’s statement as hypocritical, suggesting that members of the Boxing Club committee had applied for the event, with one even competing last year.
Fight Club’s twelve competitors are typically inexperienced fighters, who are trained for three months before they compete.
White Collar boxing differs from amateur boxing in that it is not governed by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), meaning that the rules and regulations of such events are not standardised, leading to safety concerns.
In their initial Facebook post on Monday, the Boxing Club said, “The University of St Andrews Boxing Club would like to remind you that we are in no way affiliated with the ‘St Andrews Fight Club’ event that will be taking place tomorrow.
“‘Fight Club’ is not an amateur boxing event, but instead a White Collar Boxing event. The former is governed by AIBA, the authority in charge of international amateur boxing including the Olympics, whereas Fight Club showcases a type of ungoverned boxing, that is not only comparatively lacking in skill, but is dangerous.
“Furthermore, boxers at Fight Club only receive a couple of months training. Not only does this increase the risk to the fighters, but downplays the dedication of amateur boxers who train for hours on end each week for years.
“We thoroughly believe that the laboured promotion of an event that is not only risking the health of participants, but marketing poor quality boxing to viewers, is highly unprofessional of the organisers.
“If you are keen to get in the ring yourself, please consider joining our club. Not only will you become a more skilled fighter than a White Collar boxer, but we will ensure that you have maintained access to training and equipment to keep your boxing career going for years to come.
“Should you prefer to watch some quality boxing, come along to our home show later this year! Last November we showcased ten bouts from skilled amateur boxers and raised £2000 for YoungMinds!”
When speaking to The Saint a spokesperson for the Boxing Club said, “People have been mistaking Fight Night as an event associated with our club. Like we wrote on our page, we feel that it’s important to distance ourselves from the poor health and safety practices of White Collar Boxing.
“The concerns of AIBA and Boxing Scotland, our governing bodies, are so great regarding the safety of White Collar Boxing that our affiliation with such an event would risk our coach losing his license and our club being shut down.
“The Boxing Club also felt it was necessary to comment given the amount of publicity Fight Club gets despite students of St Andrews knowing very little about the controversies surrounding it.
“We hope to help keep people safe and educated regarding the sport of boxing.”
In response, Jim Peters, a spokesperson for St Andrew Fight Club said, “We would simply like to place on record that our event is fully sanctioned by the World Kickboxing Association who host thousands of boxing, kickboxing and MMA competitions each year.
“Competitors go through a highly intensive training program for three months leading up to the event and undergo a rigorous medical check before and after the event by fully trained and licensed paramedics. Competitors generally give up drinking altogether during the training and drastically alter their diets, adopting much healthier lifestyles. With the well-publicised issues regarding binge drinking within student bodies at UK universities, we can only see this improved lifestyle as a positive.
“Tuesday night was our second fight night event which saw ten incredibly balanced bouts contested.
“Many competitors expressed a desire to reapply to take part in the event again and to continue their training after the event.
“We would also like to place on record that the captain, president, treasurer and secretary of the University of St Andrews Boxing Club all applied to take part in last year’s event, and the treasurer did indeed take part. Members of the University of St Andrews Boxing Club once again applied to take part in this year’s event, whilst other members of the club were seen enjoying themselves as spectators on Tuesday night. As such, their comments seem to linger on the side of hypocrisy.”
In response to these allegations of committee members participating in Fight Club, the Boxing Club said: “The University of St Andrews Boxing club would like to make it clear that no members of the current or previous committee have taken part in Fight Club. Any members of other past committees who have taken part did so at the risk of their own amateur boxing careers and the welfare of the club at the time. We condemn their actions and hope to make it apparent that the present stance of the club and the stance it will take for the foreseeable future is that expressed by the public statement of the current management committee.
“As the club is under different management and has a different coach to when the supposed incidents took place, we do not see any hypocrisy in our statement. This year it was made clear to members who wished to take part in Fight Club that they could not do so whilst training with our club.
“Those who continued to pursue White Collar boxing were no longer allowed to take part in training sessions. Furthermore, we have no issue with club members spectating Fight Club. Although we do not condone the event, it is not the club’s place to dictate how its members spend their own time and money.”