The huge backdrop parts as Ben ‘Golden Boy’ Goldie emerges into view, looky steely-eyed and determined. He walks slowly and calmly towards the ring, past the flashing cameras and amid the deafening roar of a pumped up crowd. He pauses before climbing purposefully through the ropes – not so much for dramatic effect, we learn later, but because “I knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I wanted to just soak it all up.”
The Golden Boy had definitely put in the hard yards to get to this point. Despite working 12-hour-days trading the financial markets, Ben still managed to hit the gym every day after work and early on Saturday mornings, to train for the latest IFS White Collar Boxing event. “They were long days and I didn’t see my two young kids during the week,” he told EX. “It was tough, but manageable and my wife was very supportive throughout.”
Boxing is a sport that polarizes opinion. The anti-boxing brigade view it as barbaric and believe that it should be outlawed, whereas the pro-boxing fraternity insist that the sport gives youngsters, particularly in poor areas, the opportunity to learn discipline and make something of themselves.
However, there is a new phenomenon in the fight game; white-collar boxing – where city boys and professionals of all shapes and sizes lay it all on the line in the squared circle. Last year in the UK, 28 of the top 29 sports saw participation levels decrease; the one exception was boxing. The increased popularity of white-collar boxing has been instrumental in the sport’s rise.
But back to Golden Boy…
Starting weight: 72kg
Fighting weight: 68kg
EX: Was your wife worried about you getting hurt?
Golden Boy: “Well, I didn’t tell many people this, but my father-in-law was a professional boxer, not that he gave me any training or anything, but her parents came over to see the fight. She wasn’t concerned about injury and I guess her joking that I couldn’t do it, just added to my motivation!”
Was it hard to apply yourself to the training while working such long hours?
My philosophy for the whole thing was, you either do this properly or you don’t do it. You’ll probably only ever have one fight because it’s a full four- or five-month commitment and it means time away from the family. What was great is that we all trained together. It was a tight group – all guys and girls of a similar age, similar background, lifestyle, sacrifices etc. We all got on very well and were all fighting for the one cause – The Children’s Surgical Centre in Cambodia. Vanda puts on a proper production – it’s your moment of glory so regardless of the outcome, it’s still an experience whether you win or lose. Generally the vibe was, ‘I’m so glad I did this.’
How did you feel when you entered the arena?
I was probably less nervous than I thought I would be because I was 110% happy with my training. My objective for fight night was to get into the ring knowing I’d trained and stuck to my diet plan as well as I could. If you look at the YouTube video, you’ll see that I stopped for ten seconds before I climbed into the ring just soaking it all up, because I knew I would probably never do it again and I wasn’t nervous; I was enjoying it and I was happy with my preparation. I didn’t notice the noise or how many people were there because I was so focused.
So your fight was stopped before the end because your opponent was bleeding from the nose. Were you disappointed, despite being declared the winner?
Yes I was. We trained for so long for that moment so it was a shame that our experience was cut short. I was disappointed the fight was stopped for my opponent because I thought it was quite close up until then.
Did you feel older and wiser following your experience?
I think it makes you realize that anything is possible, whether you have work or family commitments, you can work around these things. It’s unlikely I would do it again though, not because I don’t want to, but it’s a long commitment away from my family. As a one-off it’s definitely well worth it.
In the lead-up to the fight, here are some of the ways Ben prepared:
one-on-one sessions with a boxing coachtraining sessions with the squadvisits to a strengthening and conditioning coach visits to physiotherapistsresearching nutrition
I spent a lot of time in Great Ormond Street Hospital when I was little, due to food allergies. They had to rotate my diet, giving me different foods at different times. I didn’t eat any vegetables from age 7 to 32! For the fight I had to get nutrients into my body and a pill wouldn’t be enough so I started drinking veg juice and I ate brown rice, chicken, fish and fruit.