Metropolis Japan covering the Tony Evans & deVere Group Executive Fight Night III #devereefn

Metropolis covering the Tony Evans & deVere Group Executive Fight Night III

Would you undergo three months of preparation openly billed as, “train till you puke”? Would you subject your body, face, ego and reputation to a beating in the ring?

A surprising number of corporate leaders in Tokyo have accepted the challenge and stepped into the ring. The fact that it all takes place in a luxurious ballroom—Vegas-style—and proceeds go to charity, helps to take a little of the sting out of a right hook.

“We are pleasantly surprised at just how many executives are out there who want to challenge themselves in Executive Fight Night,” says Dave Thomas, who is the vice president of marketing for Adidas Japan by day and fights under the name “Naughty Ninja” by night. Thomas organizes the event with Adidas colleague Eddie Nixon (a.k.a. “Nifty Ninja”) and Nathan Schmid (a.k.a. “Nimble Ninja”), owner of Tokyo Fitness and Club 360.

Like many great ideas, the event was born during a Friday night on the town—but needed a lot to make it work. “None of us had ever organized a fighting event like this,” Thomas admits. “There was a lot to consider and do. We all have demanding jobs, so the work was done late into the night and on weekends.”

At first, the trio brought some corporate sponsors and other organizers on board, but now Executive Fight Night III: Triple Thunder is set for November 8 at Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi. “When a friend of mine said that it was a charity event, I was in. When I found out it was a boxing event—that was a bonus,” says Tony Evans, area manager for the deVere Group, the event’s main sponsor. “I decided this would be a way to give back personally, as compassion makes us human.”

Compassion wasn’t on the list of requirements for trainer Jan Kaszuba. “Contact training begins on day one,” he stated, adding that some of the fighters were in “terrible shape” when they first came to him.

“Some of these people have never boxed and needed to learn how to give and take a punch correctly,” explains Kaszuba, who has competed in international MMA, Muay Thai and karate competitions. “I like to keep strategy as simple as possible because it often gets thrown out the window if it’s your first fight.”

Ed Overy is one of those who went through Kaszuba’s training and lived to tell the tale. “By fight night, I was in the best physical condition I’d been in in my life,” says Overy, who fought in the first event at the age of 43. The Air New Zealand general manager hung a punching bag in his garage to train and felt ready to face a taller, heavier, and younger opponent.

“I was 100% psychologically ready for the fight,” Overy recalls. “There was not a scenario that I had worked through that had me losing. It was an amazing feeling to step in that ring.”

But after three two-minute rounds, things hadn’t exactly gone according to plan. “He consistently landed more blows on me,” Overy admits. “The brutality of it was intense. I got a few clean shots through but in the end, he landed more on me and won the fight by decision.”

While the part-time boxers duked it out, the audience at the black-tie event enjoyed a four-course meal while making contributions to Refugees International Japan, which funds projects in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka and a host of other countries.

“This event reaches a new audience for us and really gets people involved,” say Jane Best, the president of the NPO. “The boxers did a great job promoting the cause. Refugees find an outlet for their frustrations through sports, and sports therapy is important in projects that help refugees rebuild their self-confidence.”

Is Overy ready to strap on the gloves again? “I don’t think I could find the mental motivation required to lift me to the level needed to get back in the ring,” he admits. “That said, the training was the best physical fitness I’ve ever done.”

From top to bottom row, left to right: Raj “Knuckle Sarnie” Notani (UK), Aaron “Soul-Train” McCain (USA), Nanice “Rapid Fire” El-Gammal (Egypt), Kate “The Brawler” Buehler (USA), Paul “I Gotta Feeling…” Maoate (New Zealand), Tatsuya Tomiyasu (Japan), Stephen “Bulldog” O’Shea (USA), Mark “Boom Boom” Smith (UK), Andrew “The Guv’nor” McGovern (UK), Mirhat “Ice Cold” Alykunov (Kazakhstan), Keith “The Horse” Hudson (reserve, Ireland), Yusuke Toyama (Japan) Nick “The Meguro Mauler” Rees (UK), Naritake “Tank” Fukumoto (Japan), Case “The Ace” Grant (New Zealand), Adam “White Lightening” Johnston (Australia), Hideki “Genie” Izutsu (Japan), Jan Kaszuba (trainer, Canada) Davaa Ona (trainer, Mongolia)

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