Gloved-up Hong Kong city slickers fight "mid-life crisis"

Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:24am EDT
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By Michael Flaherty and Nishant Kumar

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Adam Gazal trained for six months to stand in the ring for six minutes of live boxing. He remembers the noise, and not much else, and said he'd like to try it again, though he realizes that the time in the gym took time away from home.

"I think my wife will divorce me if I go through another six months of training," Gazal, 35, said after the fight.

The managing partner of National Australia Bank was one of 14 contenders who took part in Hong Kong's sixth annual IronMonger Hedge Fund Fight Night, a fundraising event that is now a staple of the city's financial community.

Attended by 550 people, Thursday night's event raised just over HK$500,000 ($64,500), nearly matching last year's total. Proceeds go to children's charities Operation Breakthrough and Operation Smile.

Gazal, who fought his pal Grant Livingston, 35, an executive director at JPMorgan with a long reach and quick jab, won by a unanimous decision. In a pre-match video aired before Gazal and Livingston's fight, "mid-life crisis" was among the reasons given for wanting to take on the six-month challenge.

A survey of the crowd found more bankers than hedgies in attendance, perhaps a sign of the industry's struggles in the region. Asian-focused hedge funds as measured by the Eurekahedge index rose 3.8 percent through September this year, falling short of a 7 percent rise in the MSCI Asia index. At least 73 Asia hedge funds have shut down this year.

The city's bankers and financiers aren't faring much better, though the sector's woes failed to impact attendance. At more than HK$2,000 ($260) a seat, the black-tie crowd filled every chair inside the makeshift boxing tent.

American Anthony Carango, 40, an executive director at Nomura Holdings, had a focused plan going into his match - a plan that he said "went out the window" as soon as the bell rang.   Continued...

Andrew "The Wildman" Wylde from Hatstand Consulting (R) fights with Richard "Angry Gary" Rouse from HSBC during the Hedge Fund Fight Nite white collar charity boxing event in Hong Kong October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip