Fighting For A Good Cause, Literally!

Explosive charity boxing raises £28.000

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(Referee Steve Holdsworth lifts the arms of twins Nick and Guy Curtis, above. Below, Park Club lifeguard April Shortiss fights Alex Fairhurst) - all the photos, as well as video footage, from the night can be accessed on the Park Club Facebook page


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Last Saturday evening, the Park Club played host to a monumental White Collar Boxing event to support club member Russell Dawkins in clawing back his life after a very serious spinal injury. The event is thought to have raised approximately £27'500.

Park Club played host to a monumental White Collar Boxing event

Including staff and people working behind the scenes, there were 1300 people present to witness 8 closely-fought 3-round bouts involving 16 novice fighters, male and female; highlights included a clash between twin brothers, and Park Club director Dan White taking on one of the Club's own members.

No favours appear to have been handed out in the ring, however: referee Steve Holdsworth awarded a controversial victory to White's opponent, a decision which was vehemently challenged by former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson, who was commentating from ringside.

Similarly, any hopes of favouritism for Paul Connolly, director of the event's main sponsors Orchards of London, were to be disappointed as he lost narrowly to a man 12 years his junior. Despite the loss, Connolly said afterwards that it was "very fulfilling to be a part of such a fantastic cause... Orchards of London are keen to continue to support the charity in the future."

In all, there were 6 men's fights and two women's bouts, and perhaps the most intriguing contest of the evening at the very start: twin brothers Guy and Nick embraced warmly in the middle of the ring after six minutes of "trying to beat the hell out of each other," in Russell Dawkins' words. Close relatives of the twins were probably relieved that the diplomatic referee judged the fight a draw.

The fireworks in the ring were complemented by festivities outside it. For one night only, the Club's indoor tennis courts played host to a full-sized boxing ring, glamorous ring girls, boys and girls cheerleaders and television stars. The event was compered by ITV Sport's Adrian Chiles, while Adam Smith and Nelson - both pundits with Sky Sports - provided commentary. A bar ran throughout the night while 'Street Food' was provided by award-winning foodie Richard Johnson and the crowd was also treated to an appearance by West Londoner and pro boxer George Groves, ahead of his title showdown at Wembley with Carl Froch.

Most of the pugilists at the centre of all the attention had no previous experience boxing, but had prepared for the bouts, sanctioned by the Amateur Boxing Association, through a rigorous 12-week training programme provided by White Collar Boxing, which teaches the 'sweet science' to office workers.

The full 100% of ticket sales went towards helping raise funds for Park Club member Russ Dawkin's new charity Russell Dawkins Back On Track, which seeks to provide the equipment necessary for people with spinal injuries get back into sport. Dawkins himself is a keen sportsmen, who severed his spinal cord in June 2013 during a sponsored cycle through France.

(Russ Dawkins, flanked by friend James Cracknell, expresses his thanks to everyone involved)

Through public events like last Saturday's boxing, and the Spine-a-thon held at the Hogarth Club in October, the Park Club aims to raise £40,000 for the charity in its first year. If raised, this money will provide Dawkins with enough biking, skiing, canoeing and specialised training kit to continue his many sporting pursuits before the crash. He also plans to use the kit to raise funds for other paraplegics.

Russ Dawkins' report on all 8 bouts, and the night itself, can be found by clicking here. If you are interested in supporting Russ, and others with spinal injuries, please go to his website, Finally, Orchards of London are in the process of setting up a JustGiving page to further raise money and awareness for Russ Dawkins’ charity on their website.

March 28, 2014