Tim Dowling: Let's get the upper classes in the ring

While I was not exactly edified by photographs of Prince Harry braying for blood at a boxing match featuring his friend Mr Hugh van Cutsem this weekend past, the notion of extremely posh people knocking the hell out of each other instantly struck me as An Idea Whose Time Come Has. You will forgive my freeform syntax on this occasion, I hope, because it enables me to compress the expression into the acronym AIWTCH, which is intended to approximate the sound of an extremely posh person saying "Ouch!" as his nose is forcibly flattened against his face and blood spurts out both sides. In this case Mr van Cutsem defeated his opponent, described in the Daily Mail only as a "16-stone Welshman", but who is also, it turns out, a chartered surveyor.

As this very event was taking place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, I was standing on a street corner in Rhayader watching one Welshman knock the hell out of another, a spectacle so unedifying that I was moved to cross the road and intervene, although in the end my feet declined to participate (but if by some accident either combatant has strayed this far into the Guardian, shame on you). None of the other passersby even stopped to watch, which made my interest all the more perverse.

A staged match between two aristocrats, however, is not only uncommon but a neat inversion of boxing's insalubrious roots, when large working-class men were drafted in to beat each other up for the entertainment of the Prince Regent. I envisage the annual AIWTCH Festival as a huge, free outdoor event, with an intra-royal family bout at the top of the card. Such an event will unite Britain in a way few sports can, with a spirit pitched somewhere between a coronation and a public hanging. It won't be expressly ideological - people can root for whoever they want - but only blue blood will be spilled. If there's a downside to this, I can't see it.

Boxing has been deemed politically incorrect in recent years for many reasons, almost all of which are negated by this arrangement. No one will be exploited. Brain damage simply isn't going to be an issue. As a source of bloodstock, the aristocracy has the advantage of being both endangered and utterly expendable. And since most of the participants will be big hunt supporters, posh-boxing is a blood sport even animal rights activists can enjoy. This is bear-baiting without the tears.

If the event at the Royal Lancaster only got it half right - the audience were, by and large, even posher than the contenders - Harry did at least look keen to have a go himself. He was reportedly so caught up in the excitement that he began shadow-boxing at ringside. How deeply endearing he can be when he tries. Once the AIWTCH Festival is up and running, Harry could well become our first pugilist prince since the Earl of Wessex's fleeting acquaintance with the sport during his all-too-brief stint with the Royal Marines, which earned him a black eye and a bloody nose. How much would you pay for a DVD of that?

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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