Uncovering Fight Night: a Behind-the-Scenes Sneak Peek

By Oona de Carvalho

As Fight Night approaches next Wednesday, March 13th, I followed the fighters to their training session at the Oasis Sports Centre in Holborn to experience what goes on behind the scenes. Trying to grasp the appeal of getting punched in front of 1,200 people, I was curious about what drew these students to Fight Night, and how they are preparing for their big night in the ring.

This year, thirteen sports clubs are represented, with fighters coming from a range of boxing levels. For some of the more seasoned fighters, like Loukas Manolopoulos, participating in Fight Night has been a long-standing aspiration, driven by a love for boxing. “I wanted to fight [last year] as well, but I wasn’t good enough”, he shares.

Whereas for many of the boxing newbies, the decision to join Fight Night was spontaneous, many were lured in by the free training programme and the chance to try out something new. Jeremy Ahearn, who had not heard about Fight Night before, decided to participate as it was “a great way to get in shape, have some fun, and represent the [lacrosse] team.”

As for Baby Cornish, she wanted to make the most of her time as a General Course student, and “prove that [she] could do athletic things and be a little scary”. Getting punched in the face for the first time, Baby recalls, was “very much a jarring thing…especially as a girl, because you don’t really grow up fighting anybody.”

The Beaver’s own Mithalina Taib shared how picking up boxing from scratch was at first intimidating. From learning the difference between jabs and crosses, to being asked whether she’s an orthodox or southpaw on the first day of training, it took a few initial sessions for her to learn the basics and ease into the flow of boxing. “There’s a lot of encouragement and all questions are welcome… It’s a good learning environment”, she says.

The fighters train up to 10 hours a week, with three mandatory sessions and two optional ones. As the Oasis training session unfolded, I watched the concentration and fervour in the fighters’ eyes as they delivered their punches. There was thrill and tension in the atmosphere. The anticipation of Fight Night loomed heavy over the room. 

“You definitely feel the pressure because everyone is working so hard and you want to give the audience a good fight… You feel like you need to put in your everything in each session”, Mithalina comments.

Preparations extend beyond the official hours. All spars are recorded and sent to the fighters who meticulously dissect them with their team captain post-training. Loukas shares how seeing yourself progress through these videos “really makes you want to keep going.”

Captain of the blue team Katherine Lo expressed how she’s pleased with this year’s fighters and the work they have been putting in. “They’re all keen on improving”, she says.

Despite the intensity of the Fight Night training, there was a great sense of camaraderie. Friendly chatter filled the room before the session, and fist bumps and high-fives were exchanged between spars. Many expressed how they’ve enjoyed making new friends in the process. “[It’s] a bonding experience”, shares Evelina Rodriguez Moskalkova.  

As encapsulated by the words of Boxing coach Lewis Fattahi as he opened the training session, We are not here to fight. We are here to learn. Learn the art and craft of movement”. These wise words from their coach will undoubtedly carry the fighters through their big night.  

On that note, for the lucky ones who have scored tickets, it’s time to get your black ties ready, and enjoy a memorable night as the blue and red teams battle it out in the ring.

Photo by Angus Timmons

Oona serves up a sneak peek of training for next week's revamped, hotly anticipated Fight Night.


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