Town and Gown go head to headEdward Abedian

Building on the success of the 2010 'Town versus Gown' Kickboxing event, a sizeable crowd gathered in Manor Community College on Saturday to witness a great day of bouts between athletes from Anglia Ruskin Kickboxing Club, CARISMA and Cambridge University Kickboxing Society. The first event of the year for the Cambridge Kickboxers, this proved to be a valuable opportunity to gain both experience and competitive action in the wake of next month's Varsity clash.

With the crowd's appetite whetted after the opening bouts, a sizeable section of supporters roused to the introduction of the popular Cenan Djenan. A first year economist from St Catharine's, Djenan scored a tight victory against his fellow club opponent Michael Tykarski. Only two fights later, he was to return to the ring in the first of the 'town vs gown' encounters - facing the Belgian Timour Williams. The youngest male in the competition, Williams gave the partisan crowd a scare with his energetic display. Still, Djenan proved the more imposing and came off the better in the close range exchanges – securing his second victory of the competition.

CUKBS dominance was short lived when Tim Williamson came up against a promising fighter in Byron Van Deventer from CARISMA. Enforcing the pace, Van Deventer came at Williams with attack after attack. Though the University stalwart came back with a few well timed jabs, the CARISMA boxer came through the fight as the clear winner.

The intensity shifted another gear with the experienced Konstantin Semeniuk and Ollie Osinkule, both at Cambridge, taking to the ring. The crowd anticipated a slugfest, fuelled further by CARISMA coach Massimo Gaetani's tongue-in-cheek call for a 'technical fight'. Technique did eventually win out as Osinkule failed to make use of his kicking ability in the same manner as his Lithuanian opponent. Dangerous and powerful punch combinations on the inside provided some joy for Osinkule, but he failed to deal with the tireless and well executed body and head kicking of Semenuik.

Undoubtedly, the most enthralling fighter of the day was CUKBS's Alex Kaus. Fighting twice, against Andrea Cristofaro and Felix Schmitten of CARISMA, Kaus displayed outstanding ability and poise, working through his repertoire of kicks and punch combinations. It was the German's kicking ability that really stood out as he gracefully manoeuvred around the ring, picking his angles and executing head shots with devastating precision. Gasps of awe filled the room from a crowd mesmerised by the display of athleticism and technique – a flying back kick in the final round of against Schmitten being a particular highlight.

Isaac Elliot, CUKBS president and student at Magdalene, was narrowly defeated by CARISMA's Andrew Gilham, the latter foiling Elliot's forceful style with a disciplined body kicking strategy. CUKBS ultimately avenged this defeat in the day's final bout with Sidney Sussex's Alex Elliot edging out Gilham in a tight encounter – leaving CUKBS with an overall 4-2 victory over CARISMA.

Perhaps the only downside was the outcome of the much anticipated bout between Julia Purmann and Marie Fygle, both from Anglia Ruskin Kickboxing club. Purmann, the most experienced fighter on the bill and a national champion, faced the Norwegian, Fygle. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury for Purmann just seconds into the first round cut short a contest that had promised so much. 

What had been billed as a series of 'friendly fights' exceeded expectations with the intensity the athletes of all three clubs brought on the day. Gaetani expressed his surprise after the final fight, 'usually people fight at fifty or sixty percent of their gym level, but today people definitely fought at a hundred'. With a high number of débutantes on show on the day, the prospects form CUKBS look promising for their Varsity encounter in early March.