Last Friday saw the Metropolitan Police host their annual dinner show and this year our opponents flew across the pond from the Big Apple. The Boys (and Girl) in Blue boxed the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) in what proved to be a fairly matched, competitive dual with a show of heart, passion and sportsmanship.
For me the night was much more than cornering boxers, as I was tasked with running the boxing side of the operation, with my counterpart ensuring the dinner service, auction and raffle ran to our timings. Both of us noting any small hiccups as next year the mantle is handed over as the organiser retires from the Police (and the club) meaning we have the whole thing to organise. And from my involvement over the last few years I know this takes months. Between us this year we had negotiated with the venue, liaised with possible opponents, booked flights and accommodation and sorted the licence, officials and hired the ring. Thankfully the task of matching the bouts was carried out by our Head Coach.
The show generates funds to cover competing throughout the year and raise money for charity, meaning the raffle, auction and silent auction are almost as important as the boxing. We enlisted a former boxer as the compare and a handful of friends to sell tickets and take payment for the auction prizes. They all worked hard and we raised a huge amount.
I had the help of three volunteers ensuring the bouts ran on time, fetching boxers from the distant dressing rooms and making sure they were warm, ready and walked in on cue. We also involved a couple of children from one of our community gyms, giving them the responsibility of ‘gloving up’, collecting gloves from ringside, cleaning them and handing them to the next boxer. We are fortunate that we have a strong pool of coaches. The club is split into five geographical areas who compete against each other in inter-Met competitions but come together as a team for events like this. We all worked together to make sure the boxers were prepared, warm and ready to box, cornering fighters whose coaches were absent and handing up to our colleagues. The running of the event was truly a team effort, it was great to see so many people get involved. Even for those who do not box, there is always a place for volunteers in a club and that night demonstrated this perfectly.
Dinner shows are often a hard crowd to please with some people attending to dress up for a night out rather than to watch the boxing. There are often a lot of guests who are unfamiliar with the rules or who lose interest once their friend/colleague/partner has boxed. Then there’s the matter that the bouts don’t start until after dinner (including the drinks reception and free flowing wine). However, the boxers put on a great show and a number of bouts had the audience on their feet. The show ran smoothly and the boxers were a credit to the club. We lost the dual by one bout but they displayed great skill, heart and sportsmanship, making us coaches proud.
My role didn’t end there; I spent the weekend hosting the FDNY showing them around London and forming friendships with the team and their coaches. I enjoyed seeing the sites as much as they did as living in the city I sometimes take them for granted. It was lovely to relax with my fellow coaches chatting to our counterparts from the FDNY, the topic of conversation never straying too far from boxing. It was especially interesting swapping stories with Susan Reno, a former Amateur and Professional boxer now making an impact as coach in New York. Her inspiring story will be covered in my next post.
Bio: Rachel Bower, is a boxing coach at London Community Boxing. A former National Champion and England representative she now coaches Novice to Elite Amateur boxers at club level, the London Female Squad and the Metropolitan Police boxing team. She also holds a position on the England Boxing Coach Education Sub Committee.
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