Boxing, in some form, or other has been around for at least 5,000 years. It has been practiced by everyone from Roman slaves to Victorian gentlemen; from army majors to backstreet brawlers. Today it is still most strongly associated with working class fighters slugging it out in East End gyms. But there is a growing trend towards white collar boxing, with bankers and mortgage brokers taking to the ring in the pursuit of fitness and glory.
Enzo Giordan, who owns the Boxing London gym at Shadwell, says the sport is the ideal way for City types to hone their physique and learn a new discipline.
“Boxing is the ultimate work-out. Thinking it is all about upper body strength is a mistake. Every punch comes from the legs, so you have to work everything out.
“It’s also about conditioning the mind. You always see boxers skipping and that isn’t only to work on their footwork and stamina – although it’s good for that too – it is also about the repetition, which helps to clear your mind, allowing you to visualise your next fight. Boxing will help your speed, your hand-to-eye co-ordination, your overall fitness. It has it all.”
There are plenty of places for City workers to get stuck in across London with many gyms offering special “white collar” sessions. Here are some of the best.
WHO: Boxing London East
WHERE: 1 Martha Street, Shadwell, E1
WHAT: A club that welcomes all, from complete novices to hardened pugilists. The gym offers advice on diet to help tone you up as well as improve your left hook. White collar workers will be glad that newcomers are encouraged to body-spar, meaning you’re less likely to have to explain to the boss why you have two black eyes and a flattened nose come Monday morning.
Cost: £50 annual joining fee, £8 a session
Contact: Tel: 07956 293768 boxinglondon.co.uk
WHO: Peacock’s Gym
WHERE: Caxton Street North, E16 WHAT: Opened in 1978, Peacock Gym is one of London’s most famous and respected boxing gyms. It rose from humble beginnings in a squalid room at the bottom of a block of flats to train boxers including Frank Bruno, George and Billy Walker.
Cost: £5 a session for white collar boxing (Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 6.30pm-7.45pm)
Contact: Tel: 020 7511 3799 peacockgym.com
WHO: The Real Fight Club
WHERE: 89 Worship Street, EC2A
WHAT: The Real Fight Club claims to be the pioneer of white collar boxing in the UK, with club founder Alan Lacey introducing it this side of the Atlantic in 2000. It specialises in organising various events and fundraisers, including its “hero for six minutes” bouts and celebrity matches, which have involved Bob Mortimer and Princes William and Harry.
Cost: Prices for events and training vary.
Contact: Tel: 0207 392 2633 therealfightclub.com