London trader tries life as professional fighter

Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:51pm EST
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By Michael Taylor

LONDON (Reuters) - Steven Hopwood has traded the cut and thrust of financial markets for the jabs and kicks of cage fighting -- a fast growing mix of martial arts and an old-fashioned pub brawl.

Fighting under the nickname "Hoppy," the 36-year-old former equity trader entered an octagonal arena enclosed by a cage, where he faced a much taller opponent in his first contest as a professional cage fighter.

Wearing only shorts and authorized gloves, they went at each other with fists, elbows, knees and feet, using judo, karate, boxing and any other martial arts moves.

There's no head-butting, eye gauging or biting. Elbow strikes to a downed opponent and groin kicking are also banned. Pretty much anything else goes.

"What I like about cage fighting is that you've got the ability to control what goes on," said Hopwood, who worked at investment banks Panmure Gordon & Co and Henderson. "In the financial markets, you've got very little control over what you do. It's not a science -- something you cannot control."

From humble beginnings in Brazil in the early 1900s, there are now over 140 mixed martial arts events in Britain each year, and the sport is rapidly gaining in popularity in the United States and Japan.

Known in Britain as "Cage Rage" (, it is gaining in popularity fast, with cable television stations snapping up the rights to top bouts and competitions.

Rules differ around the world but in Britain there are usually three five-minute rounds, with a referee inside the cage to enforce what few rules there are.   Continued...

<p>City trader turned cagefighter Steven Hopwood (R) punches during a fight in this September 29, 2008 file photograph. REUTERS/Vincent Garnier/</p>