Boxing Clever

The London Paper  –  21 Nov 2008

My great uncle Silas was a simple man and he only ever gave me two pieces of advice: if she leaves her knickers on the floor for three days then don’t marry her and, that when it came to boxing, you should never bet on the white guy. However, when I was down at a boxing club called ‘The Real Fight Club’ in Shoreditch last week all I saw being trained up were white guys … and City boys at that.

I was initially sceptical about the whole concept as I watched the sweaty stockbrokers aggressively punching bags and sparring with each other. It looked like a desperate attempt by emasculated office boys to regain some semblance of masculinity … which of course it was. It was easy to dismiss the red-faced chaps bopping around in the two rings as a bunch of sad losers who had got it into their sick and twisted minds that this macho nonsense would somehow help them outmanouvre their competition on the trading floor.

And then I got in the ring and started sparing with the main man there, Spencer. Before you could say ‘wannabe alpha male’ I was pumped full of adrenaline and absolutely loving it. I was delivering left jabs and right hooks with gay abandon and was soon ‘in the zone’. The documentary crew who were there filming me interviewed me after my session and I heard myself excitedly shouting into the microphone as if I’d just done twelve rounds with Mike Tyson and whupped his sorry ass. I was buzzing but also stress-free, which was clearly another reason to come for the credit-crunched brokers around me.

The simple fact is that the vast majority of we Brits neglect our physical side as we spend all our time either sitting on our fat arses clicking a mouse or propping up a bar drinking our liver into oblivion. If current trends continue half of British children will be classified as obese by 2050. We in the West have also invented a whole plethora of labour-saving devices (cars, escalators etc) that mean we can keep our movement down to a bare minimum. In theory, these innovations should make life more pleasant but in reality they will simply create a world populated by fat, unhealthy, short-lived critters.

Nowhere is this horrific reality more visible than on Lamu, the island off Africa I’m currently chilling on. The difference between the fit, athletic locals (some in their sixties!) and the bloated, wheezing rich ‘msungu’ (foreigners) could not be more pronounced. Judging by the smiles, positive attitude and cheerful conversations I’ve had with the local guys, it also seems that it’s not the loaded stony-faced tourists who are the happier of the two groups.

I believe a truly content life requires being fulfilled in three main ways: physically, spiritually and mentally. Since most of us in the West neglect the first two is it any wonder that so many people seem miserable? Anyway, that’s enough of this writing nonsense, I’m going for a swim!

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