Fight Night
Martin Theobald

There are very few times in life you can look yourself in the mirror and feel a genuine sense of pride and accomplishment. Feel that you have achieved something both for yourself and for the greater cause. Right now I can do that. I'm proud to have stuck through the eight week journey of training. I'm proud to have been part of a team that has done so much together. I'm proud to have done my part in raising money for cancer research, my contribution to the group total of approaching £20,000. I'm proud to have shared the ring with Andy Smith, an absolute warrior of a man. I'm proud I was able to stand up after taking his biggest right hand flush on the chin; granted I clung on for dear life straight after but needs must! I'm proud to have got the win but in all honesty, I thought it was a draw. The result doesn't mean a huge amount on reflection, the occasion and the journey do.

It all culminated yesterday. It's a long old day, arrive for a medical at one o'clock and the event itself starts at half four. I must commend the paramedic team for both their patience and thoroughness of checking, safety is a priority. A pep talk by the organisers, the referee and the coaches in the changing rooms then it's a ring parade, go and stand in front of the crowd as each team takes their place in the one of the two rings.

That parade helped make it real. Back in the changing rooms the first fighters started warming up while those on later were finding their ways to avoid burning off too much nervous energy in advance. The rota started, fighters hit the pads with coaches or other participants in the changing rooms, go out and do their business then come back to shower and change. I was on 13th, meaning I was able to catch a couple of the fights ringside as well as being able to see friends and family before I was due up. It has it's downsides too; seeing fighters return backstage bloodied, bruised, being sick and getting treatment. It was a stark reminder that you don't play boxing, you do boxing. I was about to go and do just that.

The warm up in the changing room was good. A special thanks to Gary Mears who took me on the pads and gave me a little confidence boost pre fight. I'm sure he did it for all, but for me it felt personal and special, that little lift that was needed. A slight hiccup happened when five minutes before entrance I was told my CD didn't work. Problem overcome, the DJ thankfully had my track anyway. Then it was off.

It doesn't seem real. You're stood in a doorway looking out at 1,500 people as the MC reads out your name and the focus switches to yourself. A quick tap on the ring girls shoulder indicates it's time to walk. I noticed on the ring parade how steep the steps to the ring were and focussed purely on not slipping as I made my way there. First challenge overcome, I took my place with my corner team of Ana and James. The next ten minutes, if I'm truthful, are a total blur. All those hours of training at Total Dojo, you're reliant that your body and brain can recall them when you need it. The first round Andy was a steam train. He reminded me of a computer game character, building up his power bar before making his attacks. My guard was broken many times, I managed to get off a few of my own shots and tied him up when he got in close, waited for the referee to do his job and separate us then try and work on the outside again.

James and Ana were exceptional for me. There is no way at all I would have got through the three rounds without them. They were calming, offering simple and concise advice that made so much sense between rounds. I couldn't always do what they told me to do, but I knew they were right. As I say, the fight is mainly a blur now. I think my workrate won it. If it were down to who landed the more powerful and meaningful punches I have no doubt that Andy would have been triumphant.

The rest of the night is equally blurry. Returning home at three in the morning after throwing some questionable dance moves in Pink Punters, I was lucky enough to have some friend join me as well as other fighters. A great night was had by all.

There are too many thank you messages to drop out but I'll do my best. The trainers have been outstanding. Total Dojo in Bletchley have given all of us so much support. No training session has been just the scheduled hour, they always run over into their own time. That may seem a small thing, but it's not. It's because they care about what they do and the people they train. Head Coach Tony Davis is a legitimate inspiration and someone I feel honoured to know. Every trainer there, Wayne, Gary, Garry, Stuart, James, Ana, Lee, Kelly and any I have missed - they are great people with a passion for what they do that transposes itself into their training. You ever want to get fit? Get off your ass and down there, you don't have to do it to fight, you can do it to train. You will never regret it.

The organisers were great. Yes the booze was overpriced and some of the views were limited but the event itself makes you feel for on night that you are special, you're there to be seen. You can't recreate that feeling, it's magic. Yes you get punched in the face, but blimey it's worth it.

The group have been top notch, not one dickhead amongst them and all supporting each other to the end. Couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch.

Of course my wife gets a special mention for being such an angel about accepting me doing it and supporting me throughout. The work/life/family/training balance has been hard but she's helped me in every way possible. A thank you to those that came and supported me, gave their time and money to do so. When you're propping yourself in the corner between rounds and catch the eye of someone you know who gives you encouragement, they will never know what a boost that was.

I'll miss it, but I will also enjoy getting my life back. No doubt I will be down for other training, but that's me retired from competition. Two wins from two - I signed up to this as I wanted to feel challenged, that I could feel like I had pushed myself with everything I had. That's happened thanks to Andy Smith who I cannot praise enough. That goes for the whole group and I hope you have all shared a similar experience.

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