On Friday night, the spotlight will be squarely fixed on the Boxing Club as they contest their first ever competitive fights on the biggest stage at the Roses opening ceremony.
Central Hall will be transformed into a full-blown boxing arena which will see York pit their wits against Lancaster in four official Roses bouts from 6pm.
The club’s showpiece, Exhibition Fight Night, has run since summer 2013. The two editions of the event have included female fights, up to seven male contests and mixed martial arts duels, including Muay Thai, a mixed martial art founded in Thailand.
The excitement generated around these events looks to have been matched at this year’s Roses, with the York Sport Union astounded by the popularity of Friday Fight Night, which is a sell-out.
UYBC train on campus three times a week, under the supervision of their coach Fraser Neill, and has well-established links with York Amateur Boxing Club in Walmgate, where selected fighters train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays by invitation only.
The club only recently became competitive, affiliating with England Boxing – the amateur boxing regulatory body – this year, and gaining a medical licence just two months ago, which means they are now eligible to compete.
Likewise, Lancaster have also just established themselves as a competitive team as of this year and the rivals recently met to match up fighters.
This suggests the fights should be well-balanced affairs. Three of the four official Roses bouts will be fought at middleweight by Oliver Farrar, Dan Aron and Laurie Twine who, despite the backing of the crowd, lost on a points decision at last year’s Fight Night. Club President and welterweight Aaron Dougherty will take part in the other Roses fight.
Dougherty spoke to Nouse Sport this week about his excitement ahead of Friday Fight Night: “All four of us box quite differently and have something unique to offer. This will be most of the team’s first bouts, and no head guards will be used, so who knows – you might even get to see a knockout!
“Boxing is effectively an extreme game of chess played with your body, constantly trying to out-manoeuvre your opponent.
“Once you’re in the ring there’s no one there to help you, it’s down to you. Its explosive, fast-paced and anything could happen on Friday night.”
Boxer Dan Aron expressed his trepidation, in light of the baying sell-out Central Hall crowd that will accompany his walk-on.
“The idea of fighting in front of so many people fills me with excitement, but also no small serving of terror.
“There are very few moments in life when you find yourself the sole attention of close to a thousand pairs of eyes, so naturally there’s a little trepidation.
“It’s going to be a massive spectacle, they’ve really pulled out all the stops and I can’t wait.”
In addition to the four official Roses contests, two York St John students, Will Pugh-Cook and Sam Kirk, who also train at York ABC have been invited to box on the night.
There will also be a fight between heavyweight Adam Flattery – who could not be matched with a Lancaster opponent – and a non-student from the York area. These bouts will not count for Roses points.
There will be no fight between female students due to a weight category discrepancy between the two girls from York and Lancaster prepared to compete.
YUSU have arranged for a female exhibition bout to be fought and can deliver on their promise that this will be the first time that women’s sport forms part of the Roses opening ceremony.
The Roses Festival will run concurrently, centred at the heart of campus around the lake.
A big screen will show the boxing alongside outdoor entertainment and live music. Roy Hodgson will open the tournament at 9pm.