Boxing goes ultra-white-collar as bankers fight for charity

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By:
Mark Baker
Published on:

The first rule of Finance Fight Night is to write about Finance Fight Night.


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To London’s Porchester Hall, as a guest of Barclays, to attend Finance Fight Night, a white-collar boxing event organized by Legacy Boxing as a fundraiser for St Giles Trust.

The charity is well supported by the banking community in London and works to help people overcome disadvantages such as homelessness, unemployment, addiction or previous prison sentences.

The fighters on the night included current or former finance professionals, with the climax of the evening a contest featuring Sam Dean, who retired from banking in the summer after 25 years, mostly spent in equity capital markets (ECM), and who was most recently head of European corporate finance at Barclays.

His fight followed a long card of nine other pairings. He didn’t lack support, familiar ECM faces among the crowd serenading his entry with chants of “Dean-o! Dean-o!” as he jumped and shadowboxed like De Niro in the title sequence of Raging Bull. An hour and a half of daily training for the past two months was about to be tested.

Round one, with Deano in the blue corner. It was a slow start for him, with his younger, more experienced and non-finance-based opponent getting the upper hand quickly with a few blows around the head and Deano struggling to make use of his height advantage and extended reach.

Bending to duck under punches slowed his pace and meant he had to reset to counter effectively.

'Just hit him'

Advice came thick and fast, even from those who didn’t know him. “Come on blue, JUST HIT HIM!” By the end of the round it looked an even contest.

Round two saw Deano the chirpier of the two at the start, out of his corner eagerly and into the fray. But his lefts were off-target and soon the two men were close together, giving Deano’s opponent the advantage as he strung together a right-left combination that had Deano’s crowd nervous.

Then came a recovery, with Deano able finally to use his extended left arm to maintain distance while connecting usefully with his right. Both men were beginning to flag, with the referee having to separate them twice. A useful finish from Deano; it felt like he might have taken the round.

Four minutes of boxing down, two to go, and Deano looked the more tired of the two early in round three. He took a few blows in quick succession, and was starting to miss with his right. A big hit took him back onto the ropes, before a counter to the chest forced his opponent back in the same way. A few weaker blows from both men in the dying seconds.

The result: 29/29.

“It doesn’t sound like much, three times two,” Dean told Euromoney after clambering down from the ring. “But it’s exhausting.”

When he was still up there, Dean had been handed the microphone once he had got his breath back sufficiently to tell the audience about Dadicated, an organization he co-founded and which aims to help parents participate in sport alongside their children rather than just watching from the sidelines.

“You can participate with your kids in almost any sport,” Dean reminded the crowd. “But boxing’s probably not one of them.”