Monday 23rd April certainly marked the most exciting Varsity day so far with two huge crowd pleasing events: kickboxing and boxing. Both events received massive support from Swansea supporters and both teams reclaimed the winning trophies for another year.
Kickboxing was the first event of the evening, taking place in the pavilion and drawing a strong crowd of around fifty Swansea supporters. Lead by Club Captain Jan Cazin and coaches Lance Jones and Laim Elton, Swansea kickboxing club brought home a respectable 3-2 victory, their second consecutive win against Cardiff at Varsity. There were nine fights in total, four exhibitions and five which counted towards the overall Varsity win. All Varsity fights consist of two fighters who are within a 5kg weight of each other and of a similar experience level.
Swansea’s William Ashwood was first to take to the mats in a point fight (Scored on a 321 system, 3 points for a kick to the head, 2 points for a kick to the body and 1 point for a punch anywhere. After each point the fighters return to the centre of the mats and the match restarts). Ashwood put up a good fight but unfortunately was less experienced than his Cardiff rival and lost the match. Next up was Jag Chadha, who demonstrated his high level of skill and technique, his experienced showed provoking a fast pace match and ultimately secured the first win. For the final points match it was the turn of Sam Tudor who brought home another victory for Swansea. He was very domineering throughout his fight and was very tactful in his technique of wearing down his opponent. Katka Kilmankova was next up to the mats for the first continuous fight. Despite an unfortunate loss, she fought hard, starting very aggressively but in the end, became too fatigued to hold of her Cardiff rival. The final match was a repeat match for Sam Tudor against the same Cardiff opponent but this time in a continuous fight. Sam was unforgiving in his attacks and kept a steady pace throughout, once again securing a win for Swansea.
Club captain Jan Cazin nominated Sam Tudor as his ‘star player’ for this year’s Varsity for his consistent dominance in his fights which massively contributed to the overall win. Benjamin Mattheisen was Jan’s choice for most improved player. Ben fought in the third exhibition fight of the event and although this has been his first year of kickboxing he still fought well and shows great potential.
The final Monday event was the eagerly anticipated boxing event which saw more than 500 students turn up in support of their Swansea fighters. There were ten fights in total, six exhibition fights and four Varsity fights which contributed to the overall Varsity shield.
The exhibition fights were a massive success for the event, the crowd created an exceptional atmosphere for the three fights with younger fighters from local clubs, even being awarded trophies at the end.
The first event of the night was an exhibition match between two young fighters, one from Maesteg and the other from Briton Ferry. The second match saw the first Swansea fighter, Connor Ryan enter the ring in one of the most exhilarating fights of the night. The two rivals with toe to toe from start to finish, unyielding and unforgiving with each punch they threw, a dramatic match between two evenly matched fighters who showed no mercy at all but in the end Connor managed to secure the win. Tyrone Stuart was next to enter the ring for Swansea in another closely fought match but unfortunately it was Cardiff who claimed victory. The fourth and fifth matches were two more exhibition fights before leading us into the first Varsity contributing match. Now was the turn of Ben Lo from Swansea and Tim Cooper from Cardiff, who both demonstrated real skill in the ring, showing their experience. It was a close fight but sadly Cardiff claimed the first Varsity victory. Following on was Swansea’s Talal Abdullah against Cardiff’s Luke Kidwell. Another action packed fight which gave an exciting few moments for the crowd to feed off; this seventh match secured Cardiff’s second Varsity contributing win of the night. The eighth match was the final exhibition match of the night between two female fighters from Cardiff. The penultimate fight introduced some controversy to the evening as the match ended up being cancelled shortly after the two fighters stepped into the ring. The Cardiff fighter failed to have his card stamped for insurance prior to the fight and so the referee was forced to stop the fight even before it began. This was a massive failing both on Cardiff’s behalf for not ensuring such important details as these were settled and a failing of the officials during weigh in who should have also spotted this blunder. As a result, Swansea won by default. The final match of the night was Ali Ibrahin for Swansea vs Mark Durcars for Cardiff. This was one of the most heated matches of the night which sent the crows roaring with excitement, lots of clean solid punches were thrown and both fighters demonstrated pure strength and fitness throughout. Swansea’s Ali came out victorious, securing the final win for Swansea, which although ended the event in a draw, it meant that Swansea keeps the shield as they were last years winners also.
Team Captain Charlie Ricketts nominated Ali Ibrahin, the final fighter of the night, as his star player for this year’s Varsity competition, “in the end, Ali brought home the shield for us, he knew he had to fight hard for it and that’s exactly what he did”. Ben Lo was the captains choice for most improved player, “I’m gutted that he didn’t win his fight, when you compare where he was at the beginning of the year to where he is now, he has made huge improvements and deserved the win”.
by Meryl Hanmer