Women and white collar workers front cage fight in Kentish Town

BY day they are suited and booted: scrutinising figures; sealing deals in the City, or practising law. By night, they can be found slamming their opponent on the floor, kicking and throwing punches in a black netted ring.

The growing phenomenon of cage fighting or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), as those in the know call it, is attracting widespread interest and even white collar workers have been drawn into the sport.

Later this month, a cohort of professionals, including a female Cambridge graduate, will bring the show to Kentish Town and the HMV Forum.

Matthew Wise, 31, works in finance at London Residential estate agents in Camden Town.

On the night of February 26 he will step into the ring for the first time.

“I’m not worried, but I am nervous,” Mr Wise, who lives near the Forum, said.

“It’s my first ever show and it’s a combat sport so you can pick up some injuries like any high impact sport. But I’ve always found that any show I’ve been to was very well run; so if you do run into a spot of trouble the referee intervenes.”

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MMA is a mixture of boxing, wrestling and martial arts and is one of the world’s fastest growing sports.

“I’ve watched the membership grow and you get a real range of people taking part: people who you wouldn’t expect to see in contact sports,” Mr Wise said.

“You’d expect a tougher type of person but you get city workers, solicitors, bankers. You also get quite a lot of women coming down.”

But some residents are unimpressed with the idea of organised fights taking place at the Highgate Road venue and this is not the first time it has sparked controversy.

Last year it incurred the wrath of nearby residents by applying for a licence to hold all night shows until 6am on six chosen days throughout the year, which the council rejected.

Rows between residents and Forum bosses reached a height when it played host to Saturday Night’s School Disco and the notorious Sunday afternoon The Church, both of which were infamous for the drunken antics of the revellers.

Kentish Town Labour councillor Meric Apac said: “I’m not for any kind of blood sport. I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it has any place in our neighbourhood.”

Mr Wise has defended his sport saying that it has come under much more control in recent years.

He also said those attending won’t be a problem.

“It’s not like having a gig or concert where people come out all rowdy and drunk,” he said.

“People tend to come out of a show and move on.”

At the top of the bill at the Forum is a women’s fight between Cambridge maths graduate Rosi “The Surgeon” Sexton and an American Roxanne Modafferi.

o For more information go to http://cagewarriors.com.