Gaydar Radio news editor Scott Roberts is preparing to fight in London’s first ever Pink Collar Boxing show next week.
You may have heard of White Collar Boxing, where city types relieve the stresses of their high-powered jobs by jumping into a boxing ring to throw a few punches at each other.
Pink Collar Boxing is pretty much the same except that all the fighters are gay men, and instead of the trademark busty card girls, topless male models will be doing the honours instead.
London’s first ever Pink Collar Boxing show is taking place at the Scala music venue in Kings Cross on Friday 15th April and money raised on the night will be going to the Terrence Higgins Trust.
Every Saturday for the past three months I have been heading up to Wood Green in north London for a weekly training session with Dermot Mannion, the promoter of Pink Collar Boxing.
While Dermot says it’s not about the winning, if I go down, I go down.
He says: “It’s all about the guys doing their best (on the night) and living the experience of what a boxer goes through. At the end of it both hands go up. There’s isn’t a winner on the night – although if someone goes down, they go down. We’re not going to hold back on the night, it will be full-on!”
Pat Cash, a journalist at QX magazine, has been my sparring partner and we have both been involved for the same relatively short amount of time. Pat and I will be opening the show as the first fight of the night.
My reason for getting involved with Pink Collar Boxing was fairly simple – this year and again in 2012, the theme for February’s LGBT History Month is sport. What better way to participate than by taking up a new activity? My parents have always said that going to the gym does not count as sport – and I think they are right.
Pat’s rationale for getting involved is slightly different.
He says: “Taking up the challenge of a sport such as boxing – not classically associated with homosexuality – is an enjoyable and daring way of defying conventions and proving that your sexuality is arbitrary to your masculinity and practical abilities. It’s also a great way of keeping fit.”
Boxing has certainly improved my fitness level and has also given me an insight into how the body handles being battered in different ways. I think Pat is correct about stereotyping. Many of my friends responded with a number of clichéd remarks when I told them about Pink Collar Boxing.
Most of it was genuine anxiety about my ability to survive three rounds inside a packed nightclub, but some of it was based on ingrained homophobia which suggests how the average gay man just can’t cut it at some things compared to a heterosexual counterpart. I am confident these assumptions are going to be shattered (possibly like my face) at next week’s show.
Many of the competitors taking part (unlike myself) have years of boxing and martial arts experience under their belts. One of them, a fashion model, already has a fearsome reputation as being a bit of an “animal” among the other guys. Whatever happens on the night, Pat and I will remain friends and I’m looking forward to the after-show party with Lovechild providing the entertainment.
I’m confident that we will have a prominent openly-gay boxer within the next decade to join sporting gay stars of rugby Gareth Thomas, England cricketer Steven Davies and Swedish footballer Anton Hysen. It just won’t be me though!
To find out more about the show and training opportunities, visit pinkcollarboxing.com