Last Saturday evening was the culmination of three months of hard physical training. Four men and four women (including myself) will have gone into the ring to raise money for the Cancer Support Group. I took a quick break from practising my left hook to find out why.
Minja Jasmiina Langel, 23, Finnish
Why are you in Mallorca? I’m in Mallorca for work, I’ve lived here almost 2 years, but I’ve lived in Spain for over 10 years. I work on boats
What attracted you to do the fight? I saw it posted on Facebook and thought, that sounds absolutely terrible and kind of scary. From there I went, well now I have to do it. And knowing it was for a cancer fundraiser pushed me to go for it that extra bit. I didn’t like the idea of having to fight against someone whilst a bunch of people watched me, but here we are!
How fit were you before you started? I’m generally a pretty active person, but this was definitely a whole new type of fitness for me. I wasn’t super unfit when I started but I’ve definitely improved in a lot of ways since the start, although I still have much to learn still.
What have you learned during the training about yourself? That I don’t like getting repeatedly punched in the face. But also that I’m more capable of fighting back than I initially thought (kind of, again, have a lot of room for improvement).
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? I think I’m going to be very very nervous. Like, have a silent meltdown 5 minutes before kind of nervous. But I have been trying to work on overall confidence during this time, and trying to control those nervous thoughts that get in the way. Either way I will show up and do what I can on the day.
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? Yes, I’m fighting for everyone who’s ever had to go through that battle, and we had a family friend die from cancer a bit over a year ago. I’ve done another fundraising for that and I’m happy to continue fighting for the cause
Will you continue boxing afterwards? Absolutely! Who knew punching/kicking things could make you feel so good.
Emma Lohan, 44, Irish
Why are you in Mallorca? I don’t know. I keep trying to leave but the island won’t let me go. I do love it here though. I have so many great friends and my dog is Mallorquin. I don’t think he would survive the Irish climate for too long.
What attracted you to do the fight? I wouldn’t say I was attracted to “do the fight”. More compelled. The fact that it was raising funds for Cancer Support Group Mallorca was a massive draw for sure.
How fit were you before you started? I was pretty out of shape. I couldn’t even complete a one minute plank. Now I’m a killing machine.
What have you learned during the training about yourself? This was the part I didn’t expect. Because we were thrown into such an intense training experience to get us all fit enough to be ready for a fight in 10 weeks. Each week I learnt something very new about myself. The biggest lesson was my fight or flight response. I had to do a lot of soul searching and digging deep with that one. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself, how to hold my own. This is a beautiful lesson to learn. How to stand up for myself with integrity and control and understand what is true for me. I think you can only learn such things when you push yourself to the limits, and the ring is a great place to face such demons.
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? I have no idea. I am used to performing in front of an audience and well know that uncontrollable adrenaline rush when it kicks in. So I am hoping my performance experience will keep me grounded but this is something very new and different so could go either way. If I feel prepared and focused, I will be good. So best get prepared!!
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? Yes. This fight is in memory of the beautiful Nikki O’Mara. Her strength, wisdom, unlimited kindness, warm smile, infectious laugh, adversity and love for music will give me the power to stay standing in the ring for 6 minutes.. And also to little Callum and his family. Sending them all the strength I can in this difficult time.
Will you continue boxing afterwards? DEFINITELY. The training and support Ian has given all of us throughout this process is really inspiring. I will 100 percent continue training with Renegade Martial Arts. This is the fittest I have been since my teens.
Juan Manuel Bonzini, 27, Argentinean
Why are you in Mallorca? I arrived here with my girlfriend 2 years ago. I am a former Navy Officer, and a naval aviator. I came to Mallorca to work on yachts and that’s what I’ve been doing since I arrived.
What attracted you to do the fight? I found it really interesting to test my mental and physical limits in a high pressure environment.
How fit were you before you started? I have been practising martial arts like Kickboxing, Taekwondo, boxing, fencing and Muay Thai since I entered the Naval Academy, 12 years ago. My physical condition was acceptable when I started, but with the help of Ian our coach, I have been able to improve.
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? Excited about the event and happy to be helping the Cancer Support Group a little.
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? Nobody in particular, but I know how hard it is to pass through that and I would like to contribute somehow.
Will you continue boxing afterwards? Yes of course!
Stephane Rene Soundorom, 45, France
Why are you in Mallorca? I’m a seaman, first mate on a superyacht.
What attracted you to do the fight? The adrenalin of being in the ring.
How fit were you before you started? I’m in good condition for my age.
What have you learned during the training about yourself? It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about the journey and the quality of performance, and that translates to life’s realities.
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? I’m going to war baby!
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? My mother lost the love of her life to cancer and this fight is a tribute to him, Gilles. I can only imagine what people are going through, and it feels good to know that I’m fighting on behalf of such a worthy cause
Will you continue boxing afterwards? Definitely, it has quickly become a new passion of mine. I want to thank Ian for organising and hosting this event, and for giving us the opportunity to experience a real fight in the ring.
Vicki McLeod, 53, British
Why are you in Mallorca? I moved here in 2004 for an adventure!
What attracted you to do the fight? I really like doing things which challenge me!
How fit were you before you started? Terribly unfit, I had let a lot of things slide since my husband had a big bike accident last year.
What have you learned during the training about yourself? That I really enjoy feeling fit, and I want to keep that feeling going, health is wealth!
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? Excited, and nervous!
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? Sadly there is a very long list of people who I know who have or had cancer, it touches so many of us.
Will you continue boxing afterwards? I hope so, I enjoy it a lot!
Rachael Wilson, 27, British
Why are you in Mallorca? I’ve lived here for seven years this month, I work as a freelance administrative consultant.
What attracted you to do the fight? I’ve been boxing with Renegade Martial Arts and Ian for a couple of years now, he asked if I would be interested in doing an actual boxing match and it’s something I never thought I could do but I wanted to challenge myself.
How fit were you before you started? I exercised once or twice a week but I wouldn’t have said I was “fit”, with a mostly desk job I wasn’t that active outside of those couple of training sessions and walks with the dog.
What have you learned during the training about yourself? I’m so much stronger than I give myself credit for, mentally but also physically I have gained a lot of strength and stamina which I’m really proud of.
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? Excitement for the whole evening and what we’re doing as a group raising money for Cancer Support Group, a little nervous for being in an actual boxing match but mostly proud of myself for going in there and giving it everything I have.
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? Absolutely, too many to name unfortunately, but lots of my family members and a few close friends have had cancer that could definitely have done/do with a support system such as Cancer Support Group.
Will you continue boxing afterwards? Definitely, it’s the first sport I’ve enjoyed doing. I detested sports growing up and would do anything to get out of exercising but boxing is so good for your mind as well as your body.
Tobias Eberhard-Ward, 23, English/German
Why are you in Mallorca? I came to Mallorca to work, improving the sustainability of materials used in construction. I am currently designing things, sourcing materials and in real-estate.
What attracted you to do the fight? I want to help my community and improve my skills and fitness.
How fit were you before you started? I was always very sporty, but smoking and stress doesn’t help!
What have you learned during the training about yourself? The fact that I am not perfect or superhuman has clearly crystalised for me, which is a great place to start improving yourself upon. Also a rib can break easier than I thought!
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? I would like to think that when entering the ring I will keep cool, even though this is a completely new challenge I have faced many difficult situations and hope this will help me keep my composure in those crucial six minutes.
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? Some of my friends and family were affected by cancer on several instances so I have an idea of how badly it can affect a person. Having people around you that support you can make such a big difference. That’s why this small group (Cancer Support Mallorca) is so important.
Will you continue boxing afterwards? I will definitely continue kickboxing after this, it’s been so much fun!
Max Jaeger, 31, Austria
Why are you in Mallorca? I’ve come here working on boats and now wanna stay and start my own business.
What is your occupation? Chef
What attracted you to do the fight? I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and it’s something I’ve never done before.
How fit were you before you started? It was quite alright I thought, but it turned out that I wasn’t very fit at all!
What have you learned during the training about yourself? It takes a lot to fight someone. Not only to accept being punched in the face but also to be able to throw your fists at someone. It doesn’t come very naturally.
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when you go into the ring? Extremely nervous I guess. Looking forward to the fight night. I have massive respect for everyone doing this and most of all, having a fight in front of an audience. Not sure how I’m gonna feel about that, hopefully all goes well!
Are you fighting for anyone who has or had cancer? I’m fighting to support the cause, luckily I don’t have anyone close to me who battles with cancer but in a community we should all support each other.
Will you continue boxing afterwards? Just for fun and to stay fit I can definitely see myself boxing in the gym, but most likely not going to pursue a career in it!
Ian Bonsall, Coach and owner of Renegade Martial Arts
Why did you organise the challenge? Our “Find Your Inner Gladiator” white collar challenge staed as we wanted to give something back to the community. The opportunity to participate in this type of experience is often not so accessible and we wanted to provide that accessibility and opportunity. Most importantly though we wanted to do something to raise some money for worthy charities.
What is it like to take a group of people through the process of training for a fight?
It is amazing. To see the positive changes and developments it has on people is just fantastic. It really does positively affect participants on all levels; physically, psychologically and emotionally
How do you think you will feel on Saturday when your protégés go into the ring? As the trainer for the group I have to remain impartial, but having said this is a great feeling to see the team have their individual moments in the spotlight. It’s a ve proud moment for me.
What appeals to you about combat sports? The purity of the competition is what sets these activities apart from other sporting endeavours. It’s literally just about you, your skills and abilities. Personally as a martial artist, combat sports are one aspect of a bigger whole, where we’re able to test and renew capabilities.
What benefits are there? The benefits are massive. These activities obviously develop physical capabilities. However, there’s the psychological and emotional development which occurs that is often the most valuable thing. Positively dealing with adversity, handling the inevitable pressure and increasing levels of emotional stress are benefits which crossover to every aspect of living.
How would you recommend that someone starts? There are many trainers out there, so find the one that you feel most comfortable with. The only real barriers to starting these things are the ones we invent for ourselves. If you need help, drop us a line at Renegade Martial Arts and we’ll be happy to help.
You can find out more at renegademartialarts.net and cancersupportmallorca.com.
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