In what was arguably the biggest event of its kind in the country, Trent’s Muay Thai boxing club took down the green and gold in spectacular fashion, walking out as the champions for the third year in a row.
As the darkness of the evening settled, tensions were high and the fighters ready. The atmosphere inside University of Nottingham’s Studio 7 was electric as record crowds roared.
The night began with the 59kg women’s bout, the first ever women’s fight in the Notts Varsity series. Despite Uni of Nottingham’s fighter, Ripan Aramwatanapong, failing to weigh-in at the correct weight, the fight continued.
Lavinia Leopardi took the helm for Trent, entering the fight with the face of determination.
Despite UoN weighing in with a greater weight, Leopardi soon had Ripan on her heels as she began to get tired. Ripan’s kicks lacked power and her punches missed their mark.
In the later rounds, Leopardi utilised this fatigue to knock her opponent to the ground. Lavinia stood over her opponent with striking prominence.
With UoN stumbling to the ground and into the ropes, Leopardi retained solid defence and produced some quick-fire body kicks which were worthy of greater points.
Despite the weight disparity, Lavinia walked away from the fight the unmistakable victor.
“Lavinia did amazingly well, having only trained since September, to fight against someone with more than double the experience and who weighed in over-weight, it’s just fantastic.”
Alex Davison, Trent’s President, emphasised how significant Leopardi’s fight was.
He said: “Lavinia did amazingly well, having only trained since September, to fight against someone with more than double the experience and who weighed in over weight and win, it’s just fantastic.”
Sam Bartholomew’s fight started strong, with some lightning dodges and steadfast body blows.
As the fight entered the end of the fourth round, Sam rolled his ankle, resulting in a snapped fibula. Despite the injury, Sam carried on the fight until just 20 seconds to go, before the referee halted the fight and issued a medic into the ring.
It was an unfortunate and shocking turn of events, with Sam producing a great fight beforehand.
Speaking after the event, Sam said: “I felt I gave a strong performance throughout each round and I am bitterly disappointed at not being able to give NTU the clean sweep.
“Once my surgery is complete and I’m recovered, I’m looking forward to jumping straight back in. A big thank-you to our coach Lee Chesters for training me up and being so supportive!”
The score was neck and neck, but it did not last long.
The next fight saw Trent’s Aarun Kooner take a clear lead in the second round, winding Uni of Nottingham’s Jamie Glazer as he was backed into the corner.
The crowd growing ever more explosive, Kooner floored Glazer, sending the crowd wild.
By the final rounds, both fighters looked tired, but Kooner’s solid blocks and strong composure sent Trent into the next fight in the lead.
Fight four saw Trent’s Faysal Mohammed outscore his opponent Tom Wood in the first round despite Wood entering the fight lacking respect and showboating.
Wood’s smug entry didn’t last long however, as Mohammed retained a solid defence against some of his opponents strong attacks. The crowd was erupting with cheers for Trent, almost startling Uni of Nottingham’s once cocksure fighter.
Faysal said: “I noticed he was getting a little tired from the second round, and although I was breathing heavily I knew I could still outscore him.
“In the last two rounds my coach shouted that his leg was going from the kicks to his thigh, so I went to work on that for the rest of the fight.”
Mohammed’s tactic worked, and saw Wood falter from the pain, once again sending Trent into a 3-1 lead. There were reports afterwards that the once smug Tom Wood was struggling to walk, and the victory streak did not stop here.
Fight five saw Trent’s Panashe Mangoma erupt into the ring with a series of terrifying blows, almost knocking Uni of Nottingham’s Amoa over the ropes.
Despite Amoa’s heavy blows in an attempt to counter Trent, Mangoma did not seem phased and continued to push through a series of attacks with a solid composure.
With both fighters tired, NTU managed to retain some solid hits and clinch the win.
The next fight was similarly spectacular, with Trent’s Momen Moustafa flooring his opponent Keegan Lee numerous times. Despite some slip-ups in focus, NTU again left the fight with another win.
The score after fight seven, which saw Trent’s Tariq Brown unveil an almost beastly performance in the final round to take the win, stood at 6-1 to NTU.
The final fight of the night saw both club presidents battle it out in the 85kg bout. Trent’s Alex Davison against Uni of Nottingham’s Rajan Samra.
It began an equal fight, but Davison soon opened up into round two with an excellent leg offensive.
Despite strong defence from the two fighters, Davison managed to sweep Samra to the floor as the fight entered the final few rounds.
Davison said: “The team worked so hard, made lots of sacrifices and it all paid off in the end.
“Massive thanks to everyone that came and supported us, and the biggest thanks has to go to our coach Lee Chesters and the lads from Sor Chang Kow Gym for helping us get ready for the fight.”
All of Trent’s fighters entered the first ever official standalone Thai boxing varsity event with determination, passion and the will to make it a night to remember for everyone involved and watching.
“To say I’m proud is a huge understatement, the character the fighters showed on the day was an enormous credit to the Thai Boxing club and Nottingham Trent as a whole”
Coach Lee Chesters
This determination and strength as an ever growing club translated into the final result, with a dominating 7-1 lead over the green and gold.
Trent’s coach, Lee Chesters, issued his praise and expressed his pride after the event.
He said: “I thought both universities did a fantastic job setting up the event.
“As for the team, every single one of them were spectacular! To say I’m proud of them is a huge understatement, the character the fighters showed on the day was an enormous credit to the Thai Boxing club and Nottingham Trent University as a whole.
“Just brilliant, roll pink!”
By Joe Locker
Photos by Sam Strutt
Platform would like to apologise to everyone at NTU Thai Boxing for the inaccuracies published in a previous article. This has since been removed and the inaccuracies rectified in this version.