Effingham builder takes on cage fight for charity
A BUILDER swapped his normal tools and hard hat for a pair of boxing gloves and a gum shield on Saturday when he participated in a cage fight for charity.
Alex Walia took part in the full contact bout at the Troxy in East London, so far raising more than £3,000 for CLIC Sargent, a charity which supports families of children with cancer.
The Effingham resident was inspired to take part in the contest by his 14-year-old stepdaughter Francesca, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2007.
And despite never taking part in a cage fight in his life, the 41-year-old scored a first round stoppage against his opponent.
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"He had no idea that I was doing it for charity so he came right after me," said Mr Walia. "Although he did find out afterwards and donated £50, which was a brilliant touch.
"I was very nervous in the build-up to the event but I was certainly overcome with excitement in the minutes before; it is a rush that you do not usually experience doing a normal job.
"There were quite a few fights on the card and a lot of the guys were seasoned, proper fighters. I think I was the only one doing it for charity."
Mr Walia, who runs AGL Building Solutions in Effingham, has completed several fundraising tasks for the charity, which has supported his stepdaughter through her illness for the past seven years.
On Saturday he faced his toughest challenge yet, donning just shorts, gloves and a gum shield and fighting under mostly traditional kickboxing rules within an octagonal cage.
He said: "I won't be giving up the day job anytime soon but I did really enjoy it – so who knows if I will keep it up.
"It is a massive commitment, as in the weeks leading up to the event I was training seven days a week, so I am certainly looking forward to just having a rest for now."
He added: "I am just over the moon to have raised this much money.
"I spoke to Francesca after the fight and she said she was very proud, so that was enough for me."
To donate to Mr Walia's appeal, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/alexwalia