Bankers slug it out for a good cause

Bankers and lawyers fought at last week's Mixed Martial Arts White Collar Championship in Hong Kong.

Last week's Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) White Collar Championship drew a strong participation from the banking world, as contestants sought to take each other down (for a good cause) in a black tie event held at the Harbour Grand in Hong Kong.

The event attracted a swath of supporters, who kept the atmosphere lively as did the flow of South African red and white wines.

The contestants were fighting fit and the jabs kept coming with a feisty exchange in the female featherweight division with Daini "D Nemesis" Wei from Zurich Insurance Company grappling with Kimberley Carder.  

The fighting intensified towards the end of the night when Frenchman Eric Champion from Bank of America Merrill Lynch faced off against HSBC opponent Tomoaki Katsuba and won the boxing lightweight division amid strong support from his supporters.

Other banking participants included Jason Hutton from investment firm Jefferies and Ankush Sanan from Nomura.

The fight night was the culmination of months of preparation and a number of contestants turned teetotal for weeks, submitting themselves to rigorous training as they stepped into the ring competitively for the first time. All while holding down full time jobs and balancing family commitments.

“The biggest challenge is keeping the motivation to train for four months,” said Champion, a director, stock lending at BofA Merrill. “It’s more a marathon than a sprint,” he added.

To keep fit, Champion ran three times a week, boxed regularly and played squash for overall cardio fitness. He also abstained from alcohol for a couple of months prior to the preliminary fight. All this hard work paid off as Champion deftly landed punches on his opponent on Thursday night. “You need to be physically fit as well as mentally strong and the training helps you be more confident in the ring,” said Champion.

For Jason Hutton, a vice-president on the financial futures and options desk at Jefferies, his training routine revolved around waking up at 4:50am on a daily basis from Monday to Friday, running for 45 minutes till 5:45am and then getting into work at around 6:30am.

Hutton had previously boxed in England and taken a break from the sport but picked it up again when he started training with Epic, a MMA club in Central, Hong Kong.

“The hardest part is the training,” said Hutton, who faced opponent Warren Deats in the Muay Thai cruiserweight division and won. “People don’t realize how much time and dedication is involved,” he added.

The White Collar MMA championship will benefit Operation Smile, Hong Kong Dog Rescue and Feeding Hong Kong. In addition to raising funds for a good cause, it also showcased mixed martial arts, a full contact sport that allows the use of striking and grappling techniques.

“People know a lot about white collar boxing but I want to promote mixed martial arts, and it’s for a good cause as well,” said founder and professional fighter Vuyisile “The Cheetah” Colossa. Colossa, a Muay Thai champion and professional mixed martial arts fighter,  was organising the event in Hong Kong for the third time.


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