I went out boxing on Friday night (to watch, not to take part) with Mrs Ladyshambles, Mrs Shoeboobies and Mr Quality Nonsense. And boy, what a fine time we had – there’s really nothing like brutal hand-to-hand combat to ensure that an evening out goes well.
Although I’m an occasional watcher of TV bouts, I wouldn’t generally claim that one man pummeling his fist into the face of another could provide such absolutely compelling entertainment, but it did, and all the cliches that boxing supporters tend to reel out when the sport is under-fire seem to ring true: that it is a noble pursuit, that its participants do enjoy what they do, and that every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of the boxers (ambulances on standby, doctors in the corners, knocked-out fighters expected to remain on the canvas until the medics allow them to rise, etc.). The atmosphere wasn’t nearly as leery as I thought it was going to be, either – the York Hall full of menacing-looking cockney geezers and brassy birds, but everyone was friendly, and there was no aggression outside the ring.
In the main event, Tony Oakey (who enters the ring to the jaunty strains of The Hokey Cokey) knocked out Peter Haymer in the ninth, bringing a sudden end to the shrieking of Haymer’s poor partner, who stood just to my left. All the way through the bout, she screamed: “USE YOUR BOXING, PETE!” “PISS HIM OFF, PETE!” “JAB, PETE!” “C’MON PETE!”
You’d not get me in a boxing ring for any kind of money… and I don’t think it can be much easier standing helpless on the sidelines while a loved one is getting punched either.
Remind me never to marry a lady boxer.