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Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Boxers Bar, Finsbury (CLOSED)

Despite once owning red Lonsdale boots - knockout, teamed with bleached jeans circa Soft Cell's Tainted Love - I’m not big into boxing. So passionate about pugilism is mine host Dave Smith, he’s opened The Boxers Bar, an air-conditioned Finsbury cellar dedicated to the sport. Tonight, I’m his only punter but the place fills up for fisticuffs beamed live from Vegas or New York through until 7 am, our time, on big fight weekends. On such occasions, it’s rammed with beefy, butch, bloodthirsty blokes necking £40 M√∂et and shouting ‘jolly nice jab and nifty footwork, Amir, old chap!’ or whatever alpha males exclaim at such times out of sheer excitement. Dave pulls me a pint of Stella - ironic, given the lager’s unfortunate nickname - and reminisces. He used to box but had to give it up. ‘Knocked senseless?’ ‘Nah! Blown up on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland.’ As a promoter, he’s made friends with the fraternity. Joe (Calzaghe) and Nigel (Benn) have dropped in, apparently. About half the size of a boxing ring, the tiny tap room is decked out in mid-20th Century standard dive bar mufti. Most of the lurid boxerabilia on display is for sale: Smokin Joe Frazier and Mohammed Ali’s signed gloves mounted and framed? That’ll be £3,000. Also on display - a neat louche touch, this - is a rogues gallery of East End villains. The Krays aside, I'm stumped. Dave fills me in, so to speak. Food can be ordered from Alexanders, a chippie upstairs: £9.50 gets a fish supper; battered cod, natch! 

9 Christopher Street EC2A 2BS 7247 4580