As the dust settled and boxing ring finished shaking from the titanic blows dealt inside it on Saturday afternoon 5th March, the final results showed a 5-4 victory to the Light Blues.
And the crowd went wild.
This year saw Varsity Kickboxing held at an unusual venue, familiar to Cambridge Kickboxers as one of our training grounds, but perhaps surreal to all else present: St. Paul’s Church, Cambridge. To quote one of our members (and Blue Bird reporter for the day) Alex Hamilton, “We even had supporters up on high”. Juxtaposition, poetic irony, something something- but yesterday it was transformed into a ruthless Kickboxing arena, with over one hundred people raining support upon their favourite fighters going head to head in the ring. The message for today was clearly for some head kicking. The atmosphere was incredible, the audience were ready for some beat downs, and both CUKBS and OUKBS felt the pressure and rising tension as our first fighters entered the ring. Cambridge claimed the red corner, Oxford took the blue corner.
FIGHT ONE: Anna Schumann (Cambridge; 156cm/55.4kg) v Jennie Graham (Oxford; 161cm/55.5kg)
As the bell rang to signal the start of the first of many rounds to be rung throughout the day, the first clean hit was quickly dealt by Cambridge- sending Oxford stumbling back against the ropes! Anna had a strong start, and in Round One managed to consistently slip through her opponent’s guard with some swift jabs and roundhouse kicks. However, Jennie came back with a vengeance, and the fight became much more closely matched in later rounds. As hits were traded and the girls knocked each other back, one was reminded that, though of small stature, neither Anna or Jennie should be taken lightly. Despite a great effort from Anna in a close match, unfortunately Oxford was awarded the first fight of the day, amidst outcries from the Cambridge fighters.
Oxford 1 – Cambridge 0
FIGHT TWO: Sarah Ashcroft-Jones (Cambridge; 163cm/57.4kg) v Radhika Sholapurkar (Oxford; 155cm/56.1kg)
Cambridge’s second fighter entered the ring boiling with anger- inevitably anger associated with the role of treasurer, whom the Cambridge President calls a bailiff. Sarah’s monetary madness was unleashed upon Radhika, Oxford President, who could only fall back during Round One as Sarah pulled out her whole arsenal of repeating sidekicks, roundhouses, front kicks and flurries of punches. Round Two saw Radhika temporarily hold her ground, but it wasn’t enough, as Sarah returned in Round Three (clearly having in mind CUKBS’s finances) and plowed her way through to victory. A fierce resistance from Radhika, but Cambridge managed to firmly grasp their first win of the day.
Cambridge 1 – Oxford 1
FIGHT THREE: Andreas Noe (Cambridge; 175cm/65.3kg) v David Wen (Oxford; 170cm/63.3kg)
The infamous David Wen returned to the ring fighting for Oxford, an ex-Cambridge Blues Boxer who had a brief stint with kickboxing for CUKBS last year before his seduction to the Dark Side for his Master’s. Fighting for Cambridge was the highly-esteemed Andreas Noe from Germany, renowned for his technique. What unfolded was an extremely high ability, fast and furious fight.
Round One saw the two fighters testing each other out, quick in and outs leaving a blur of one-twos in their wake. However, just as David appeared to get an upper hand, Andreas whipped out his devastatingly fast kicks- hook kicks and roundhouses to the head and side kicks to the stomach- that managed to catch David just before he could leap within punching range.
Round Two and Three saw these lightning-fast exchanges continuing, occasionally with Andreas knocking David back before he could close in, or David managing to get within Andreas’s guard temporarily to whip out a few punches before clinching, amongst similar in and outs as in Round One.
The tempo of the fight did not drop once- a testament to the fitness of both fighters, talents which were both naturally groomed in Cambridge.
The hotly-contested and arguably most technical fight of the day was awarded to Cambridge, as opposed to ex-Cambridge; the powers of the Dark Side are clearly mere shenanigans.
Cambridge 2 – Oxford 1
FIGHT FOUR: Leland Hui (Cambridge; 174cm/65kg) v Anders Moller (Oxford; 183cm/70.4kg)
The Cambridge President and his Oxford opponent stepped into the ring, ready to have a dramatic face-off… until the judge realised that the CUKBS President forgot his wrist wraps. Oops.
The fight eventually commenced- Anders circled Leland before leaping in with a jumping front kick and a flurry of punches and then quickly withdrawing before any hits were returned. Fortunately, Leland was not intimidated by this predator-style technique and held his ground with some interrupting front kicks and countering hooks.
The fight saw some unusual turns of events, including a cartwheel to avoid a knockdown and body hooking the referee as she stepped in to intervene- both by Leland. The later rounds saw Leland weathering through Ander’s savage technique and firing off shots of his own, ultimately resulting in another victory for the Light Blues! Huzzah!
Cambridge 3 – Oxford 1
FIGHT FIVE: Pascal Wichmann (Cambridge; 183cm/71kg) v Adam Ismail (Oxford; 183cm/71.7kg)
We step into our Middleweight category. Pascal bravely soldiered through having severely bruised ribs to be able to fight for Cambridge on Saturday and stepped into the ring as a training-torn veteran. Round One saw Pascal carefully control the fight with some well-measured front kicks, sharp jabs and some solid blocking. However, his Oxford opponent appeared to get wiser as the rounds went on, evading Pascal’s strikes and becoming a much more slippery, evasive opponent. As Pascal began hitting air and Adam showed some nimble dodging, the scales began to tip the other way. By Round Three, despite Pascal not appearing to tire, Adam managed to land enough hits to be able to secure the second victory for the Dark Blues. Boo.
Cambridge 3 – Oxford 2
FIGHT SIX: Farakh Shahzad (Cambridge; 182cm/73.9kg) v Weiye Yang (Oxford; 175cm/71.6kg)
The fight lasted an incredible 20 minutes, despite the actual fight time only being about 3. When the bell rang to start Round One, Farakh became a force of nature of kicks and punches and completely overwhelmed Weiye. Even the Cambridge fighters felt a little sorry for the Oxford guy. Farakh’s sheer power gave Weiye little chance to react, who could only retreat in an attempt to avoid as many hits as possible. However, Farakh was relentless and unlike most people who come out in full aggression, his stamina remained on top form as he continued to pursue Weiye. The referee had to constantly step in to break the two apart, signalling a wholly one-sided match by Cambridge.
As Round Two started, it appeared the pattern would start again and indeed it did. About halfway through the round, Weiye span straight into Farakh’s special move: The Falcon Punch. This took a different form to that popularised by Captain Falcon, that of a devastating hook that caught Weiye straight on in the face- and down he dropped. As the medics came in to assess the damage, the first knockout of the day was awarded to Cambridge.
Absolute Farakh domination.
Cambridge 4 – Oxford 2
One more match until Light Blue victory!
FIGHT SEVEN: George Bouverie (Cambridge; 180cm/76.6kg) v Thibault Lienhart (Oxford; 185cm/77.7kg)
The tank, he-who-feels-no-pain, George Bouverie stepped into the ring to fight against the agile Thibault Lienhart. Round One saw George gain the upper hand- he was on absolutely top form as he blocked almost all of Thibault’s strikes and managed to effortlessly shrug off all pressure to get inside Thibault’s guard to unleash some Bouverie blows. Round Two saw Thibault start to gain momentum however, as he managed to counter George’s advances by very skilfully creating space and throwing some kicks which even George was slightly staggered by. Round Three saw the upper hand get reversed, Thibault grabbed the advantage by negating George’s charges, retaliating and unfortunately landing. Oxford won their third fight and delayed the inevitable.
Cambridge 4 – Oxford 3
FIGHT EIGHT: Zakaria Moustiri (Cambridge; 178cm/79.9kg) v Vikram Nagarajan (Oxford; 182cm/78.4kg)
Zak’s perfectly timed kicks and solid punches drove his opponent into defence from the beginning to end. It was absolutely beautifully fought, with Vikram being caught by Zak’s array of deadly techniques- Round One saw Zak launch his classic jump spinning back kick, and the crowd erupted with excitement. But this was not at all the highlight, as all of Vikram’s attempts to fight back were blown away by Zak’s kicks which appeared out of nowhere to strike his torso and head. Again, the Cambridge fighters were glad that they weren’t the other guy.
In what can only be described as a “Moustiri Masterpiece”, Zak completely owned the fight and secured VARSITY VICTORY for Cambridge. But there was still one fight to go, and we were keen to send Oxford home packing.
Cambridge 5 – Oxford 3
FIGHT NINE: Shayan Ali (Cambridge; 173cm/82.6kg) Toby Gill (Oxford; 185cm/81.4kg)
Dance master Shayan entered the ring and Cambridge spirits were high. Such was his enthusiasm to fight, that during one of the fight breaks he began doing a jiggle to the DJ’s music on the side of the ring. During the fight, however, this excitable and amiable man turned into a charging bull who demolished Toby’s defences and paid no heed to any strikes laid against his guard. Once inside striking range, Shayan’s guard transformed into striking mode and laid down some furious jabs, crosses and hooks to Toby’s body. This highly effective technique lasted Shayan across all the three rounds, his durability was admirable given the sheer force behind Toby’s jumping kicks that would have blown most other fighters away. Due credit must be given to Toby for fighting while drugged up on paracetamol due to a sudden bout of fever. Perhaps it was because of this superb kicking ability and variety that Toby was awarded the victory, to the surprise of the Cambridge fighters- but nonetheless it was certainly a match well-fought by both sides.
FINAL RESULT: 5-4 VICTORY TO CAMBRIDGE #VK16 SUCCESS
Many apologies to Jessie Slim and Konstantin Semeniuk for Oxford pulling out their fighters last minute and not being able to match up.
CUKBS congratulates our Oxford counterparts for providing such strong opposition this year- evidenced by our narrow 5-4 victory- and are proud to reclaim (our) Varsity Kickboxing Trophy!
Another year of hard training until the Blues clash again; in the meantime CUKBS will be punching hard(est) and kicking hard(est) to bring the fight to Oxford! #GDBO
It’s been a pleasure training with the team, you’ve all done CUKBS proud!