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Some of the biggest names in rugby will descend on Dubai in May for what promises to be an epic showdown between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

But rather than take to the rugby pitch, this war of attrition will be staged inside the boxing ring at a black tie event organised for a worthy charity cause.

Fighting and raising money for BackOnYourBike, seven international rugby legends and four local rugby heroes will climb through the ropes to slug it out in five men’s bouts and two women’s at the Fighting Chance event.

Representing the Northern Hemisphere will be Wales superstars Gareth Thomas and Shane Williams, and former Ireland and British Lions forward Shane Byrne. Former England rugby league star Sean Long will also be turning out for the North as will Welshwoman Non Evans.

Doing battle for the South will be South African trio Chester Williams, Conrad Jantjes, and Bolla Conradie as well as New Zealand pair Carlos Spencer and the female representative Huriana Manuel. Completing the line-up will be Samoa’s Kahn Fotuali'i and Brian Lima.

After 14 weeks of training, these rugby personalities will enter the boxing ring for the first time in a battle for pride, honour and ultimately to determine which hemisphere is best.

BackOnYourBike is a fundraising effort for Richard Holland who was injured in a cycling accident in Dubai on 11 October 2012. Whilst training for an Ironman Race, avid cyclist and triathlete Rich was hit from behind by a car and sustained multiple life-threatening injuries, including a severe injury to his brain stem.

After three months, he is still unable to move his body and requires intensive medical supervision to care for him round the clock. BackOnYourBike was set up to help Rich’s family raise funds for his recovery, neuro-rehabilitation and funds to support him for the rest of his life.

Organiser John Mamea-Wilson first heard Rich’s story through social media after being made aware of it by mutual friends. He contacted Rich’s sister Pippa and met her at the hospital to discuss the boxing fundraising evening, of which the family were very receptive.

John is hoping to raise AED500,000 from the Fighting Chance night and hopes it is just the first of many events.

Asked why he chose to organise a boxing event specifically, John replied: “It’s a model that’s been done successfully around the world and I think Dubai will respond well to it.

“Boxing is a great sport and by putting rugby personalities like these into the ring you’re tapping in to two markets.”

He added: "The guys we have got onboard are big names in their own right that will help promote the event and raise awareness.”

Fighting Chance is set for May 24 with the weigh-in and pre-event commitments taking place the previous day.

To read more about Richard and the BackOnYourBike fund visit:


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