Bigger and better than ever, CRN Fight Night 2013 had plenty of highs and lows, and finished with a battle of the giants.
Now six years old, the boxing extravaganza is established as the must-attend event in the channel and competition is becoming fiercer than ever for the limited tables available at the venue.
Not only that, but it was the most-entered competition yet, with nearly 200 people registering early interest in becoming a contender, and nearly 100 attending the assessment days.
It was also the first year ever that all 18 original fighters who were selected to take part actually made it into the ring, and all their hard work in training certainly paid off.
More than 500 guests, kitted out in their black tie finery, were treated to a night of thrills, some spills and some serious bills, if the amount of activity at the bar was anything to go by. A three-course meal was also squeezed into the evening.
It was a first for the foam fingers cleverly supplied by headline sponsor Mimecast – red on one side and blue on the other, so the audience could vote for their favourite boxer after each bout. Many people were seen after the event sneaking out of the venue with their foam hands clutched close to their bodies.
And we had a tweetwall, sponsored by Comms-care, whose mascot Comms-care Colin kept an eye on all the tweets and made sure they kept flowing.
Most importantly, the night was all about raising money for worthy causes, with all the boxers fighting for a chosen charity,
and proceeds from a silent auction on the night being split between the fighters.
Mark “The Burf” Burford, chief executive of City Boxer, which ran the event on behalf of CRN, said this year’s Fight Night was definitely the best one yet.
“It was a really fantastic event. We train a lot of pro fighters and I didn’t see any difference in the desire levels the lads showed. I would say it was the best one ever and it is all moving in the right direction. It also raised a lot of money for different charities, which was a great effort.” he said.
Kicking off the first of the fights was Robbie “Winner” Winfield from Softcat against Marek “The Maverick” Zawadzki from Check Point (pictured, left, in action). Winfield was raising money for Village Water and Zawadzki was fighting for dementia charity the Lewy Body Society.
The fight was close, with the referee scoring 29-28 in favour of Zawadzki.
“It was a great event and I’m really pleased all the hard work paid off,” he said. “Given the opportunity, I’d definitely do it again! Congrats to my opponent Robbie Winfield too as he helped make it a great fight.”
Next up was Chris “Cozmic Kid” Taylor from Insight against Andrew ‘“Bone Crusher” Birch from Exclusive Networks (In action, right) . Taylor was fundraising on behalf of Diabetes UK, and Birch was fighting for Wesex Cancer Trust.
The bout was another close one, with the referee eventually scoring it 30-29 in Birch’s favour. The next day, Birch was basking in his win.
“I feel fine with no aches and pains. I absolutely loved it. Obviously I was slightly apprehensive on the night, but the build-up was very well managed and kept us on our toes. The camaraderie and togetherness of the group was also brilliant. The event itself was fantastic – well managed and put together and the whole night was superb.
“When I got in the ring there were plenty of ups and downs, good and bad bits, but the crowd were superb and I could really hear them.
“The best bit about the night was that it was all for charity – this was a room full of pretty highly paid IT executives who were doing their bit to help good causes, rather than scoring off each other.”
When asked if he would recommend the night to others, it was a resounding yes.
“I have lost weight and feel better in myself for doing it – I really feel I have achieved something. I would definitely recommend it to anybody.”
And Taylor was upbeat despite his defeat: “Even through the bitter taste of defeat the 12 weeks of training was a great experience. The evening was excellently run and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Initially afterwards I would have said I never want to do anything so stupid again but on reflection I think its safe to say I would love another crack in a grudge match against my opponent.
"I set this out to be a personal fitness goal and my fitness has improved many times over however, with another few months of general fitness which let me down I would have beaten him. Maybe I have been hit in the head too many times recently, maybe I am just plain stupid but for a worthwhile cause I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”
Then came Ross “Relentless” McSorley from Fujitsu against David “The Conqueror” Cattermole from headline sponsor Mimecast (pictured in action, left), with McSorely fighting for Welsh cancer charity Tenovous and Cattermole for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
McSorley lived up to his name and the fight was stopped 15 seconds into round two.
McSorely was chuffed with his performance: “The CRN Fight Night experience was one I will never forget. From training at The Ring boxing club to the big night, everything was organised perfectly. I would like to thank the guys at The Ring boxing club and CRN for putting on a great show. I went into the event looking to challenge myself and challenge myself I did! I would strongly recommend this event to anyone looking to push themselves to the limit while having a lot of fun doing it!”
After dinner the rest of the bouts unfolded.
First up was Wes “Wild Man” David from Nebulas against Mark “Yorkshire Hammer” Godliman from Trustmarque (pictured in action, right). David was fighting on behalf of the NSPCC and Godliman was battling for York Against Cancer.
The bout was another close call, with the referee awarding a win to the Wild Man at 30 points to 29.
However, Godliman was convinced if he’d had one more chance he could have swung it.
"My strategy was to let my opponent tire himself out, but unfortunately it did not pan out. I think if we had had another round, I could have been better.”
He said the difference between training and fighting should not be underestimated and that all the fighters should be praised for their commitment.
“It is very different when you get in the ring. It’s more intense,” he said. “I was focused, but he was a big guy. Getting ready for this event was a real challenge, trying to fit it around work as well. It was a massive commitment for all these guys and they should all be congratulated. Anybody who wants to focus on personal fitness should definitely give this a go. It is a tough three to four months, but worth it.”
Next was Daniel “Balboa” Bieney from Micro-P against HP’s Joe “The Pilgrim” Partridge. Bieney was supporting Naomi House and Partridge was fighting for Woodside Animal Trust.
The fight went the full distance and was a close one, but Partridge won both in the mind of the referee and the audience. He was later awarded the coveted Ultimate Fighter trophy.
Catching up with him after the event, he told CRN: “The fight was better than I expected. The first round was a little bit close, but the second round started to go my way. I have a few bruises, but apart from that I’m fine. It is certainly different to hitting a bag. I would recommend it to anyone – I’m in the shape of my life and it has been really enjoyable. I’m hoping to keep up the boxing and take it further.”
Gracious in defeat, Bieney said: "Despite not winning on the night I am extremely happy I took part, raised a bucket load of cash for my chosen charity and therefore I have walked away from the ring with my head held up high. Looking forward, boxing has now become the yard stick to my new on look on life.
"Is it as bad getting punched in the face? No? Well give it a go!". This has now led to me looking into organising other "bucket list" events such as sky driving, base jumping, wing walking, bungee jump, donating time with my chosen charity. I would encourage any other none naturally gifted fighters to sign up to the 2014 CRN Fight Night!"
The sixth bout of the night was between James “Beast from the East” Winters from Computerlinks and Brilanti “The Warrior” Aliaj from Kelway. Both were fighting for War Child (pictured in action, right).
Despite a valiant effort from Winters, the fight was stopped after round one, with Aliaj crowned the winner.
Seventh in the ring was Richard “Slay ‘Em” Graham from Avnet against Andre “Dark Destroyer” Wilson from Wick Hill. Graham was fighting on behalf of the Brain Tumour Charity, and Wilson for the Sickle Cell Society.
After a very close three rounds, Graham was hailed the victor with just one point in it (pictured in action, below).
Wilson was pleased with his involvement in the event: “It was amazing – the trainers were all first class, the fight was hard but really enjoyable and I would recommend anyone to try it,” he said.
The penultimate fight was another one to be stopped in its tracks after one contender’s relentless attack prompted the referee to halt the action.
Paul “The Vindicator” Vernon from Comms-care was too strong for Alexander “Bro’ You Be Trippin’ Your Jaw I Be Rippin” Griffin, but both fighters raised much-needed funds for their charities: Ronald McDonald House and Addaction respectively.
Following the fight, Vernon said: “I’m feeling fine. My fight didn’t really go on for that long. The whole thing was quite surreal – I had a lot of training and sparring with others. When my music came on after five hours waiting round the back, I was ready for it. When I got in the ring I was focused. I trained hard and didn’t want to underestimate my opponent. Originally I wasn’t going to keep up with the boxing, but I’m going to try to get a skills fight and one or two amateur fights this year.”
Griffin was clearly gutted at not being able to take the fight the whole way: “I truly enjoyed everything about Fight Night, from the training, right through to the after party! I want to thank CRN for putting on such a great event, and thank my charity, and those who have donated for their support, the fight itself was stopped way to early by any stretch of the imagination, but the fire is still there, and having dropped four weight divisions since the weigh in, I look forward to competing on my return to university.”
The final fight was a clash of the giants: 6ft 8in Laurence “Longshanks” Rowe from Bytes Software Solutions and 6ft 4in Scott “Soz” Rutherford from CMS Distribution. Rowe was fighting for Giving to George’s, and Rutherford on behalf of Wateraid.
After an epic battle, which saw Rowe crumple to the ground in round one, but fight back in the following rounds, Rutherford was crowned the winner, with just one point between them.
Rutherford was very pleased with his win: "This CRN Fight night opportunity is the most challenging experience of my life. From the start of training until the fight I lost over two stone in weight. The experience is excellently managed and the trainers are fantastic. Throughout the full process everyone involved only has the health and safety of the fighters in mind and this is reassuring. It was a fantastic experience that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to challenge themselves.”
As the crowds dispersed and headed for the aftershow party at Beduin Bar in Smithfield, the event was praised by its sponsors.
Richard Eglon from Comms-care said: “We keep coming back because it is an event with a competitive edge which suits the characters and person-alities in the industry. There was a great mix of fights, and the last match was a great way to finish. It also gives the fighters some really big kudos and pride within their company and it becomes a talking point.”
Nessa Lynchehaun, channel director from headline sponsor Mimecast, was also positive.
“It was great to be the headline sponsor for an event such as CRN Fight Night where vendors and the channel all get together to socialise and cheer on their fighters – nothing like a bit of healthy competition,” she said. “This is one of the biggest nights in the social calendar for the channel and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The fighters were fantastic – they put their heart and soul into every fight and put on a great display for the evening on behalf of their respective charities.
“We are already talking about next year with our partners pre-booking their places – now that is the sign of a good night and a great channel!”
Oliver Moss (@olimoss) was a fan:
“Loving #CRNFightNight great event as always. Pleasure to be here representing @BarracudaEMEA – we are the most dynamic vendor here #bigyear.”
While Comms-care chief Ben Davies (@commsCare_Ben) was in a bullish mood:
“Main event coming up. @PaulVernon10 maintaining the @commsCare undefeated record. #warrior.”
But his opponent’s supporters, including George Cox (@georgecox11) had other words:
“Go out and smash it tonight! @AlexUKGriffin Send him to the canvas! You don’t need luck, it’s YOUR night!”
Laura Bouchard (@laurajbouchard) wasn’t so impressed with the food:
“Starter of budgie #CRNFightNight.”
And Marvin Rufus (@MarvinRufus) had a simple message for Brilanti Aliaj:
“Good luck champ. #Bril #KelwayUK #CRNFightNight”
Adam Perks (@AJPerks) enjoyed the action:
“Great fight for #CRNFightNight proper battle between @trustmarqueYork and @Nebulasltd.”
Anthony Clark (@ferretsofchaos) spoke for us all:
“#CRNFightNight respect to all those who stepped into the ring.”
The next day there were a few sore heads, including Vicky Clarke’s (@VickClar):
“Oh god. The hangover is brutal #SOS amazing evening at the #CRNFightNight thank you!”
THE BOUTS (winners in bold)
■ Robbie “Winner” Winfield, Softcat (Charity: Village Water) v Marek “Maverick” Zawadzki, Check Point (Charity: The Lewy Body Society)
■ Chris “The Cozmic Kid” Taylor, Insight (Charity: Diabetes UK) v Andrew “Bone Crusher” Birch, Exclusive Networks (Charity: Wessex Cancer Trust)
■ Ross “Relentless” McSorley, Fujitsu (Charity: Shelter) v David “The Conqueror” Cattermole, Mimecast (Charity: Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation)
■ Wes “Wild Man” Davis, Nebulus (Charity: Great Ormond Street Hospital) v Mark “Yorkshire Hammer” Godliman, Trustmarque (Charity: York Against Cancer)
■ Daniel “Balboa” Bieny,Micro-P (Charity: Naomi House hospices) v Joe “The Pilgrim” Partridge, HP (Charity: Woodside Animal Welfare Trust)
■ James “The Beast From The East” Winters, Computerlinks (Charity: War Child) v Brilanti “The Warrior” Aliaj, Kelway (Charity: Tomorrow’s People)
■ Richard “Slay’Em” Graham,Avnet Charity: Brain Tumour UK) v Andre “Dark Destroyer” Wilson, Wick Hill (Charity: Sickle Cell Society)
■ Paul “The Vindicator” Vernon, Comms-care (Charity: Ronald McDonald House) v Alexander “Bro’ You Be Trippin’ Your Jaw I Be Rippin’” Griffin, Computer 2000 (Charity: Add Action)
■ Laurence “Longshanks” Rowe, Bytes (Charity: Genetics Department, St George’s Hospital) v Scott “SOZ” Rutherford, CMS Distribution (Charity: Water Aid)
■ Ultimate Fighter: Joe “The Pilgrim” Partridge
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