“It was just so quick,” said Danielle “Steely” Midalia after defeating Andrea “Glynn-sanity” Glynn in the only women’s bout at last night’s sixth annual Hedge Fund Fight Nite in Hong Kong.
“You have no time to think, you just have to rely on your training and what your corner men tell you,” the creative manager at The Cat Street Gallery said, red-faced and covered with sweat just minutes after the bout that had bloodied her and her rival’s noses. “In some ways it was easier than training -- as they say, train hard, fight easy.”
The pair, 12 other pugilists, and 600 guests were greeted by bikini-clad models and black-tie waiters bearing trays of beer and wine at the Indian Recreation Club in Happy Valley. Festivities opened when four women in hooded boxing robes stepped into the ring, stripped off to reveal red bikini tops and hot pants, and began a choreographed dance routine under multicolored strobe lights.
There were few signs of the financial industry’s woes, as guests bid on high-priced trips including fishing in Mongolia between bouts and courses of fig, Iberico ham salad and roast beef. The event raised more than HK$500,000 ($64,512) for charities that fund surgery for children with facial deformities, and combat crime and juvenile delinquency in low-income and immigrant communities, falling short of the HK$1 million goal set by organizer IronMonger Events Ltd.
The financial industry has been taking its own punches amid shrinking equity volumes. Bank of America Corp., BNP Paribas SA, Deutsche Bank AG, Macquarie Group Ltd., Morgan Stanley, Nomura Holdings Inc., and UBS AG are all shedding jobs.
Anthony “The Tank” Carango, 40, who attended West Point and went on to man the turret of an M1 Abrams tank, defeated Craig “El Toro” Barnish in the second round of the evening. He had more to celebrate than victory: His second child was born less than two weeks earlier.
“It’s been tough the last week, trying to fit in twice a day training with a newborn,” Carango, an executive director at Nomura, said after the fight, brandishing a cigar, glass of wine, gold medal and broad smile. He said his wife has been “hugely supportive,” taking late night wake-up responsibilities the evening before the fight.
The 14 finalists trained at Jab Mixed Martial Arts Studio in the heart of the business district twice a week for five months. In addition to the sessions of sparring, punching bag work, crunches and rope-skipping, most trained four to five times a week, and in some cases twice a day. The finalists were culled from 70 hopefuls and were paired off for seven bouts of three two-minute rounds each.
All the fights went the distance, with no knockouts. All seven bouts were decided on points by the ring-side judges.
Each bout opened with a pre-taped video of the boxers talking about their training and opponents. At the fight’s end, the referee raised the hand of the victor when the tuxedo wearing announcer proclaimed a winner.
In between the matchups, models in Union Jack and Stars-and-Stripes bikini tops mingled with bankers, while ski trips, art works and bottles of wine were auctioned for charity.
The region’s hedge funds have been staging their own fightback. The Eurekahedge Asian Hedge Fund Index returned 2.3 percent in September, the best performer among five regional indexes, based on preliminary figures. The index has returned 3.9 percent this year through September compared with the 4.3 percent advance by the global industry gauge.
Steve “The Wizard of Wanchai” Taw, the oldest competitor at age 53 in the history of the event, lost to Blaire “The Bear” Crichton, an associate vice president in business development at HSBC Holdings Plc, 26 years his junior.
“He got in one punch that was really good,” said the sweat-soaked Taw, a director at South Ocean Management Ltd., who said this will be his last round in the ring. “It doesn’t really hurt because you have the gloves and the padding, but all the time, it’s in the back of your mind.”
Taw competed four years after his son’s victory in the same charity event. Thomas Taw, 27, who works in electronic trading at Macquarie, was standing in his father’s corner during the fight.
Other fighters at the event included Barnish, co-founder of BAH Partners, Ltd., Nicolas Boulay, a derivatives broker at Louis Capital Markets; Adam Gazal, a managing partner at National Australia Bank Ltd.; Grant Livingston, an executive director in convertible bonds at JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Brad Moreland, a director in prime services at HSBC; Mark O’ Reilly, a managing director at Astbury Marsden; George Radford, a consultant at property investment company IP Global; Richard Rouse, an account manager at HSBC, and Andrew Wylde, head of sales and operations at Hatstand Consulting, who sported the night’s bloodiest nose.
Standard tables of 12 cost HK$24,000 with the ringside version pulling in HK$50,000. The event at Happy Valley wrapped up with the last bout just before midnight, when the pugilists and many of their supporters then filed into taxis to Lan Kwai Fong, the city’s stretch of bars and restaurants in the business district.