Flashback only a week;

I had interviewed Charles Lee, Fitzdares Bookmakers’ Head of Boxing, ahead of their opening ‘Fighting Futures’ event held in The Ned on an exciting Friday evening in Central London. Charles was excited about the prospect then, with the company looking to embark on a journey through boxing at a grassroots level.

During a more reflective conversation, I caught up with him again to find out how the event had went, noticing his enthusiasm was anything but diminished.

“It was great! The bouts were very competitive. In the last one, there was a cut… which is a shame because it was just heating up. The person that can’t continue loses the bout. He was probably ahead actually! Apart from that, it was great. They (other contests) were tight.”

The winners on the night were as follows;

BOUT 1: Jack Johnstone
(Finchley, weight: 75kg)
Charlie Wincott
(Lynn Boxing Club, weight: 75kg)
Tosin Olalekan
(Fitzroy Lodge, weight: 71kg)
Francis Storey
(Finchley, weight: 57-60kg, Referee Stopped The Contest) 

Fitzroy Lodge’s Olalekin had scooped the performance of the night award, proving a worthy winner with an impressive victory. Lee had seen first hand the dedication of Olalekan, whom he told me was spotted at Fitzroy Lodge nearly every night of the week. The set-up and execution of the event has been widely praised, I wanted to find out how it had been received from the slightly more casual ticket-holders on the night?

“A lot of people in the audience hadn’t been before, so it was a good introduction to amateur boxing, really. The guests seemed to really enjoy the atmosphere and the event. The area and the location, it sort of added that prestige to the event, flowing alcohol which always helps!”

So, what next? I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick Charles’ brain over the future of Fighting Futures. What was their longer-term goal and had that been altered by the first event on November 17th?

He spoke with caution, understandably remaining realistic. Firstly, because he’s an oddsmaker and secondly because many new initiatives start hard and fast before fizzling out. This, was something different, you sense. Fitzdares were looking to become linked with boxing for all the right reasons and that mission statement hadn’t deviated.

“We’d like to do it again and make it a ‘thing’ in amateur boxing so it becomes renowned. I’d like to look into going through the gyms. You know, could we be a sponsor of Fitzroy Lodge? Finchley ABC, Dale Youth or the Lynn? Then maybe look at boxers. The problem with the boxers is that they go through the gym. So, a boxer could just not turn up quite easily, but by sponsoring the gym you are sponsoring anybody that does go through that door.”

Sponsoring the gyms seemed a fantastic idea, with some amateur prospects sadly dipping in-and-out of the sport. Funding the root, the hard-working men and women who often go unnoticed was a refreshing proposition.

Last word to Charles, then. With a successful show under their belt and aspirations to help cultivate London’s amateur boxing scene, what could people expect to see done differently at their next show? 

“Personally, as a boxing man, I’d like to see more than four bouts. Maybe we change the timings (of bouts). Speaking to the boxers afterwards, they seemed to the think it was one of the best shows they’d boxed on – if not the best.”

One thing’s for certain, the Future is now.

Written by Craig Scott