Light Dragoons prepare for boxing challenge

Soldiers from the Light Dragoons are preparing to take on some of Norfolk's top amateur boxers in a fund-raising fight night next month.

The boxing ring is a place where nimble artistry mixes with brute aggression in equal measure.

So, in such an unforgiving arena, who do you think would triumph in a contest pitching military muscle against civvy sophistication?

That question will be answered when soldiers from the Light Dragoons take on Norfolk's best amateur boxers at a charity fight night at the Norfolk Showground, Costessey.

Personal and regimental pride will be at stake on Saturday, March 5 when the Swanton-Morley-based dragoons are matched against seasoned pugilists from clubs across the county.

The regiment will contest 12 three-round bouts against their civilian counterparts at various weights.

Proceeds from the evening will be split between the Light Dragoons Colonel's Appeal and Norfolk Amateur Boxing Association.

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Both sides are eager to discover whether the soldiers' legendary fitness can overcome the technical skills of their sporting opponents.

Norwich-born trooper Dean Vann, 23, has boxed for 11 years with the Kingfisher club at Great Yarmouth – but now hopes he can help his army buddies to beat his club-mates.

'I'm feeling very excited, and I can't wait for the roar of the crowd when I'm led out into the dark arena,' he said 'I can't lose: I really can't. But whichever way it goes it has been for a good cause. It will be strange to box against some of the clubs I trained with in my youth. My opponent has had 19 fights, 10 more than me, but it counts for nothing because I want it enough and I know I can beat him.'

Tpr Vann said he was confident of a victory that would help towards his ultimate goal of fighting full-time for the British Army's boxing team.

The soldiers have been on a special training regime at their Robertson Barracks headquarters for the past five weeks under the instruction of Staff Sgt Lee Simpson.

'The boys are taking their training very seriously,' he said. 'Army boys don't usually get to train as boxers twice a week: it's just when we can fit it in around their other duties, so their technical standard will be a lot lower than the civilians. They may be a bit more stylish, but our boys are a lot fitter and more aggressive. These guys are front-foot boxers, and they want to fight: that is bred into them as soon as they arrive in the army.'

The soldiers took inspiration from Cromer's twin boxing stars, Liam and Ryan Walsh, during a training session at the Kickstop gym in Whiffler Road, Norwich.

Liam, who won the Commonwealth super-featherweight crown in October, said: 'The army boys have always been really good boxers, so I reckon it will be quite close. People should really get behind this event because guys like this are risking their lives to protect this country.'

Ryan said: 'One of our best mates is off to Afghanistan in March, so we are 110pc behind this. Usually when you see an amateur fight there is a lot of fencing and points-scoring, but I don't think the army have quite got the hang of that yet. They will use their fitness and their strength, and I'm backing them to win, but it will be close.'

Glenn Miller, secretary of the Norfolk ABA, said: 'I'm very excited for the Norfolk representatives. Our boxers are fit and ready to box, and a team match of this magnitude will provide some great entertainment. No matter what the result is, the winner will be the charities.'

The night marks the official launch of the Light Dragoons Charitable Trust Colonel's Appeal in Norfolk. Six members of the regiment were killed and many more were injured during the regiment's last tour of Afghanistan in 2009 – proof of the continuing need for treatment and welfare support for soldiers and their families.

Spectators can also see the Light Cavalry Band performing alongside the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Tank Regiment. There will be a bar, a live auction, raffle and food available.

For more information and tickets, visit