The main, Queen Elizabeth II hall at Henley Town Hall was packing the crowds into the venue for a charity boxing night on Friday night (14 September).
Boxing isn’t new to the town hall as it has been used for a few charity boxing events in aid of Nomad Youth & Community Project over the last few years. This time however the grass roots fights were being staged by Woodley Boxing Arts who were kicking off their Pugilist Pyramid Cruiserweight league along with a Middleweight title match, Heavyweight and Masters league matches.
The evening was supporting Naomi House & Jack’s Place children’s hospice in Winchester where one of the boxer’s children stayed before sadly loosing his life to cancer and Help 4 Homeless Veterans.
Mark Bamfield from Woodley Boxing Arts said, “I came here a couple of years ago to see some boxing and loved the venue. It is very much like the iconic boxing venue, York Hall in London, classed as ‘Home of British Boxing’ and it is very apt for this type of event. We have booked to come back again in February and March next year too. We chose Naomi House and Jack’s Place for the obvious reasons and too many veterans become homeless and need help getting back on track.”
Henley Mayor, Councillor Glen Lambert welcomed everyone and introduced the first fighters in the ring.
Glen said, “I happened to be in the Town Hall when Mark Bamfield came in to book it for his boxing event. I’d never heard of boxing in Henley before so when he asked if I’d come along to introduce the event, I agreed immediately. I was struck by how professional the set-up was. The boxing ring, which was constructed during the day, looked no different to those on television. The organisation of the bouts themselves was also very slick – there were several bouts of 3 or 4 rounds each and I was there for the majority of them, including the finals.”
The judges had a hard night with three of the fights ending in a split decision – the Masters League 40+ match Paddy McKenna was awarded the win against Simon Alderson, the Heavyweight League match Scott Willmot beat Gareth Weston and Andrew Hook won the Middleweight League title match again on a split decision against Nick Jarvis. The Cruiserweight tournament which saw 4 men compete with JD Tracer Francis (pictured above) winning in the final against Jed Oakley in the second round with a knock out.
Glen added, “The sportsmanship of the boxers was commendable and I saw no evidence of any ill feeling, the boxers were all polite and professional before their fights and shook hands and hugged afterwards. The audience behaved very well too, It was a very positive atmosphere and I enjoyed the evening. After the last bout, I spoke to Mark to compliment the referee, Faisel Ghazghazi, who I felt had done an incredible job, jumping in at just the right moments to protect the boxers and prevent any serious injuries without ruining the fights. I fine line for any referee to tread but I felt Faisel got it right every time. I was pleased to be able to tell him so in person and thank him for keeping everyone safe.”
For more details of future fights go to Woodley Boxing Arts Facebook page at www.facebook.com/woodleyboxingarts/ Next Henley event 1 February 2019