Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
As the two fighters threw punches furiously at each other, the crowd cheered on their every swing.
But this wasn't a schoolyard bust-up or the settlement of a long-standing dispute between warring factions. The 'fighters' were boys, and they were simply carrying on a tradition those in their community have long cherished. It may not be the historical meaning behind Boxing Day, but residents of Beeston Street and surrounding areas have an annual boxing contest in the area.
There's no referee, no ropes for the square marked out in the street to represent the ring, and there's no bell (they use pot covers instead). But fight fans have been watching young boys, men and even girls from the area duke it out for years. Kevin Dwight, one of the organisers of the fun day, said he has been watching the annual spectacle since he and his friends were boys.
"From we likkle and grow, we see it and the older ones pass it down to us," Dwight said. "So now we a pass it on to di smaller youths."
Anyone, regardless of skill level, height or weight, can don a pair of gloves and start swinging against an opponent of their choice. Older residents become trainers, coaching the puny pugilists between rounds. The punches fly with regularity as defence is not the first choice of these fighters. Dwight said it was all in good fun though.
just like the real thing
"We do it like the real thing, they touch gloves before and after the fight," he said. "The children understand is a fun thing, so they don't take it personal."
The music pumping from nearby speakers and the laughter of children on holiday underline that this is all good-natured. Dwight said as prizes, the 'winners' get various things and the Boxing Day spectacle wraps up with a treat in the evening. He said the event was very popular a few years ago, even spawning a weekly 'Thursday night at the fights' competition.
"So we a try bring it back now," he said. "We woulda love fi get some sponsor so next year it can even better."
He said they would also like to get headgear, especially for the children, and more gloves as no one is allowed to fight without them in the interest of safety.