Here come the boys: Meet the lads putting it all on the line at Durham Fight Night

Let’s hope they last longer than I did…


In less than two weeks, Durham’s finest and fiercest boys will once again don the hallowed red and blue as they go into battle in search of the highest level of fame and glory a Durham student athlete can achieve in a night.

Student Fight Night is a branch of Wilder Events, formed and started in Durham in 2021. Three years down the line, with events in 14 university cities and over 300 participants to date, it has unambiguously become the largest student boxing event in the North East, with its tagline “Durham’s most electric black tie sporting event” being nothing short of the truth.

Student Fight Night is partnered with The Oddballs Foundation, an excellent charity which raises awareness of testicular cancer, the most common type of cancer to affect men aged between 15 and 49. For round six in November the event raised £15,217, a figure which round seven is already on the verge of surpassing. Having raised a combined total of over £100,000 so far, with over 25 per cent of this from Durham, Student Fight Night has certainly had a positive impact on the lives of many.

The fighters’ individual donation pages are plugged in their profiles, so if you’re able to, please do consider donating to a great cause.

Igor Rosiewicz vs Deji Adewumi

Rosiewicz, a fresher representing The CCAFC B’s, might just be the main attraction of sound seven. If one man was to epitomise the phrase hated, adored but never ignored, it would be ‘The Polish Assassin’ himself. Charming, chain-riddled and charismatic, it’s hard to not feel yourself drawn to him. Walking out to Pass Out by Tinie Tempah, Rosiewicz plans to run through a Polish flag surrounded by bikini-clad girls. He’s already TikTok famous with over 680,000 likes, but can he back up his big talk on fight night?

Adewumi, a fresher representing John Snow Rugby, came into the training process later than most but with some prior experience is on a level ground and ready to rumble. Calm and reserved in personality compared to Rosiewicz, Adewumi is technical and was complimented by many other fighters as one of the highest quality boxers of the cohort.

Adewumi, a fresher representing John Snow Rugby, came into the training process later than most but with some prior experience is on a level ground and ready to rumble. Calm and reserved in personality compared to Rosiewicz, Adewumi is technical and was complimented by many other fighters as one of the highest quality boxers of the cohort.

Donate to Deji: Denim Adewumi is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Chris Wild vs Alfie Chapman

Wild, a Van Mildert fresher representing DUAFC, is involved in a fight between friends, with the two freshers having met during pre-season, creating an interesting and unique dynamic for this matchup. Brilliantly, he has suggested taking part in a dual fundraising initiative with Chapman during fight week, putting fighting to the side in the name of a great cause. Being the slightly larger of the two, Wild will hope to use his strength and size to his advantage in the ring.

Chapman, a Collingwood fresher representing DURFC, has undertaken the daunting task of regular 12km runs in nothing but Oddballs boxers, showcasing both his commitment to charity and fitness in the build up to the big night. In relation to his strengths compared to Wild in the ring, Chapman said “I’d like to think I’m fitter and I can take a punch much better than he can”.

Donate to Chris: Chris Wild is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to Alfie: Alfie Chapman is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Finlay Thorburn vs Sam Dexter

Thorburn, a second year Hatfield student representing DURFC, was inspired to get back into boxing by the unfortunate passing of his prior coach from home, adding that he is “kind of doing this for him and also for me”. Forming one half of round seven’s heavyweight clash, Thorburn claims to have “a hard head and a thick skull”, aiming to apply front-foot pressure to dominate the fight. Unlike some, Thorburn seems genuinely excited and unbothered about the fight, with his walk out song I Ain’t Worried telling you everything you need to know about him. Ice cold.

Dexter, a third year who captains and will be representing John Snow Rugby, also has boxing experience, creating what promises to be one of the best fights of the night between the biggest and most skilled blokes. Dexter does not have one particular reason driving him on, but admirably said “if an opportunity comes along to raise money for a good cause I always like to take part”. In a battle between the hill and the bailey, college sport and DU sport and even England and Scotland, it’s certainly challenging to call.

Donate to Finlay: Tin Thorburn is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to Sam: Sam Dexter is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Spike Gleave vs Henry Lees

Gleave, a second year St. Cuthbert’s Society student representing DURFC, jokingly said that he is “on the hunt for a girlfriend and thought if I won Fight Night I might get one”. To any single women out there, you could cut glass on this man’s jawline. Get involved. When asked about his strengths in the ring, Gleave responded with “speed and power, speed and power”. Additionally, having currently raised £630, Gleave is one of the highest fundraisers for the event and should be commended.

Lees, a second year Collingwood student who captains and will be representing The CCAFC G’s, has decided to “keep any plans for the walkout slightly secret, I’d like to say it’s flair”. I’m expecting something huge, and when I say that I don’t just mean the scale of turnout expected from The CCAFC on the night. Being a southpaw, Lees may be able to confuse Gleave on the night with his alternative stance if he can get his lead foot on the outside. In the middleweight battle of the pretty boys, it’s tough to tell who will come out on top.

Donate to Spike: Spike Gleave is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to Henry: Henry Lees is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Hamish Brook vs Phoenix Eyles

Brook, a second year Collingwood student representing CCRFC, decided to take part on the basis that “The Oddballs Foundation is a great cause and it’s really good that we can support them as well as challenge ourselves”. With a top notch walk out song planned in Fortunate Son, Brook will have the whole of the Wood behind him as he goes into battle. Deeming fitness as the aspect most likely to decide the fight, ‘The Berserker’ added that “we’ll have to find out” when asked who had the superior fitness.

Eyles, a second year Van Mildert student representing VMAFC, commented that the hardest part of training so far has been “giving booze a break” and is “super keen” for a pint with Brook after the bout. With bleached blonde hair and a certain collected swagger about him, Eyles is proudly Australian and looking forward to donning his flag on his walk out. He may not be from Tasmania, but he’ll certainly be able to unleash his inner devil in the ring on fight night.

Donate to Hamish: hamish Brook is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to Phoenix: Phoenix Eyles is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Cameron Heyring vs Tin Panagoda 

Heyring, a second year Collingwood student representing DU Touch Rugby, is walking out to the iconic Freed from Desire, and looks forward to embracing the moment and having a good time with friends on stage. Being the lightest boy in the cohort, Heyring thinks that sparring much bigger and stronger boys has “prepared me really well” and is looking forward to putting on a show for his fans. Already sporting an impressive black eye, don’t be fooled by his size; he’s tough, hard-hitting and ready to sting.

Panagoda, a third year student representing Stephenson football, signed up after streaming the last event, never imagining he would actually get in. Sometimes you’ve got to throw your hat into the ring, but in Panagoda’s case he’ll now be throwing hooks and jabs rather than hats. Citing “the fitness and staying away from the bevs” as the most challenging aspects of training, it’ll be exciting to see how Panagoda’s explosive power for a welterweight matches up with Heyring’s exceptional fitness. But, if the fight gets scrappy and tense, ‘Crea’tin claims to “have that dawg in me”.

Donate to Cameron: Cameron Heyring is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to Tin: Thineth Panagoda is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Johnnie Venner vs Archie Clunies-Ross

Venner, a second year Collingwood student representing The CCAFC B’s, signed up on the premise of “new year, new me”, using it as an excellent opportunity to further his fitness. In a sentence that may describe the Fight Night experience better than any other, Venner said “100 per cent positive, I come to training, I dread it, I absolutely dread it, but every single time I leave I feel good”. Venner has the highest fundraising total of the boys at the time of writing, having so far raised £1,075 in a superb effort.

Clunies-Ross, a second year St. Chad’s student representing DU Boat Club, hails from the land down under and credited his strength as “having a bit more in the tank than my opponent”, hoping to knock out Venner in the third and final round. His spirit is high, claiming that “I’d be most scared to fight myself”. With an almost identical build and height to Venner, this fight is very much one which could come down to who wants it more.

Donate to Johnnie: Johnnie Venner is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to Archie: Archie Clunies-Ross is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Aidan Hawes vs George McLaren

Hawes, a fresher representing Hild Bede AFC, was inspired to sign up by the experience of his social secretary Sam ‘The General’ Radford, a man who is perhaps the most flair boxer I’ve personally had the pleasure of sparring. Hawes complimented his power as his greatest strength, and with biceps even larger than his well justified confidence, you can see why.

McLaren, a third year Collingwood student representing CCRFC, has chosen not to tell his parents about the upcoming fight, worried that “my mum might not be particularly pleased”. Mrs McLaren, if you’re reading this, your son is a pretty brave bloke putting a lot on the line in the name of charity. Will the finalist be able to bash the fresher in this encounter or will some fresher arrogance save the day?

Donate to Aidan: Aidan Hawes is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Donate to George: George McLaren is fundraising for The OddBalls Foundation (justgiving.com)

Images via FIGHT NIGHT DURHAM- WILDER EVENTS

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