White collar boxing kicks off in Taiwan

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White collar boxing is punching ahead in Taiwan. In Taipei hundreds of guests attend a glitzy black tie gala dinner - while their friends and work colleagues prepare to enter the boxing ring. Guests are arriving in their black ties and formal gowns. The sound of people chatting and clinking champagne glasses can be heard throughout the hotel lobby. But down the hallway, the atmosphere is very different. Men in their 20s to 40s are wrapping up their fists, putting on shoes, and warming up their bodies. It might look like preparations for a standard boxing match, but the men getting ready to fight are the friends and work colleagues of those here to watch the show. This is the first white collar boxing night in Taipei, people who generally work in offices train for a few months to box in front of an audience. The fighters have no previous boxing experience and tonight they are fighting in front of 500 people who have paid up to USD $200 to attend. Shane Benis, the event organiser from China Sports Promotions, says lots of people are attracted to boxing, but are reluctant to give it a go. "What we do is we take the ballroom environment, the gala setting, we get businessmen and women to train. Most people, a lot of people are interested in learning boxing. The hesitancy for normal businessman or woman is actually getting punched in the face than actually having a fight. But once they overcome that barrier and they actually say okay, I am going to do this." Benis says organising matches for these amateurs to fight in a gala dinner environment makes it more fun for their friends and families to attend. He says the competitors see it as a challenge and a great way to keep fit. "Boxing not only being a fantastic form of fitness or a sport to actually get fit, is incredible stress relief. So that, combined with the opportunity to get in the ring in front of five hundred people and fight potentially to win something, is incredibly appealing to people." White collar boxing started more than ten years ago in a New York gym. Since then several organisers have hosted events in many cities where traders and brokers, teachers and celebrities, swap their normal clothes for boxing kit and get into the ring. Originally 26 working men and women signed up for training for the Taipei Fight Night. 14 have been chosen to pair up for 7 fights. Many cite fitness as their motivation. Others says physical challenges from the training and the fight are what they are after. Guth Wang, a 28-year-old businessman, is one of tonight's fighters. For the last three months, Guth has trained almost every day after finishing his day job running a family business. Guth admits that he is extremely nervous about the fight, but says the challenge that he has set himself will do him good, physically and mentally. In the end, Guth loses to his opponent Brian Lee after completing three of the two-minute rounds. But for him, the experience is still worthwhile. "I am feeling good and happy, I have done my best. It was a tight match. I was so close to winning the fight," he says. And Guth's mother, Della Chen can finally breath a sigh of relief. "Yes, I was a bit worried about his safety. But he fought well," she says. Shawn McClelland is a Taipei-based investor and the oldest fighter among the boxers in this group. The 49-year-old American expatriate has lost over 10 pounds through training and now faces a younger and taller opponent. His knee gives in during the second round, but Shawn's hits prove to be more accurate and he wins the match by points, to his own surprise. According to China Sports Promotions, all 500 tickets for the five-course champagne gala dinner are sold out. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/17420790e137fc6d29811c31c042d6d7 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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