The ever-competitive battle for hedge fund allocations and prime brokerage clients is often likened to a fighter’s ring.
Industry combatants will fit the stereotype as they don boxing gloves for Hedge Fund Fight Nite in Hong Kong next week, with organisers noting there will be a number of firsts for the seven-year-old event.
Jimmy Heng of recruiter Michael Page will become the event’s first Asian male Fight Nite combatant, putting his impressive skills on display. Experienced in judo, mixed martial arts and Muay Thai kickboxing, he’ll shuffle to the ring for what he acknowledges will be his first boxing match.
Despite his imposing fighting CV, Heng’s colleagues are a bit antsy, as colleague Christopher Auckland, Michael Page’s regional director in Hong Kong, sacrificed his nose at a previous Hedge Fund Fight Nite event.
“I think they’re a bit scared [as] they know my boss broke his nose in 2009,” says Heng. ”They don’t want me to break my nose.”
But he won't be pulling his punches. “It’s about trying to take each other’s head off,” says Heng. “I think there will be blood.”
He will take on Colliers International’s Sam Biggins, who is advised to pack some hydrogen peroxide and gauze.
In another first, Deutsche Bank jumps into the ring for the first time this year with the entry of Thomas Morrison from its corporate and investment bank group division, prime finance executive Jim Aldworth and Greg Lee from its securities division.
While the event previously attracted prospective pugilists from Deutsche, the three individuals are first individuals from the bank to have made the final cut of 16 fighters – out of an initial pool of 48 hopefuls – proving that German sportsmanship extends beyond cross-country skiing/rifle shooting biathalons and Mud Olympics.
Fight Nite will have one female match-up – a feature introduced last year – with Devi Kumar from recruitment firm Charterhouse Partnership and Bloomberg journalist Eleni Himaras set to spar off.
Meanwhile, HSBC is hoping to extend its streak from last year, when all three of its fighters won their bouts. Pressure will be on the bank’s two contenders this year – Richard Gifford and Dominic Smith – to continue its sweep.
Although most of the contestants are largely from banks and the financial services industries, there is one hedge fund fighter in the form of Adam Wallace, chief operating officer of Factorial Management.
Wallace finally takes to the ring this year after breaking his nose during preliminary Fight Nite training a couple of years ago, which at the time scuppered his attempt of making the final cut. “After this [match], I’m burning my gloves,” he vows.
Wallace’s barbecue will presumably be fired up the morning after the May 30 event, which takes place just seven months after spars were exchanged in October. This year, Fight Nite organiser Ironmonger Events is breaking from its usual tradition of hosting its fists-of-fury fiesta in the fall to have a spring fling of fists.
While the date change means that fighters dodge training throughout the hot and humid Hong Kong summer, they have had a slightly shorter training schedule than in previous years – a reduction from five months to four.
This may tip the balance towards experienced fighters like Heng and possibly those who are particularly eager not to have their nose broken again, such as Wallace.
At least those who suffer from a broken appendage or otherwise shed blood will know they've done so for a good cause, with proceeds from the event going to children's charities Operation Breakthrough, which aims to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and Operation Smile, a provider of free surgery to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.