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Enlighten Boxwars

Boxwars, an Enlighten event and a fun showdown between 30 contestants dressed up in suits of cardboard armour and cardboard weapons to boot. This year was the first time a  Boxwars event was hosted in Canberra, with the group being based in Melbourne.

The theme for this particular battle was aquatic, touted as the “Canberra to Canberra yacht race” because, as the Boxwars crew put it, “we’re sick of the Sydney to Hobart, time for something new!”

A little confusing, sure, as there was no racing actually done that night.

There wasn’t much attention for Boxwars to begin with, but families in the area became increasingly curious as cardboard props for the arena began to pile up on the grass. It wasn’t until the word “Boxwars” was spelled out in man-sized cardboard letters that kids and parents alike began to murmur amongst themselves excitedly. As the sun began to set and the winds died down (thankfully nothing blew away), the atmosphere of the area was positively buzzing with hundreds of children and adults waiting to see what would happen.

After the arena was cordoned off to prevent little ones from copping swings of cardboard, the 30 pre-selected warriors stepped into the ring with their detailed suits of armour while holding their boats around their body . The participants ranged from teenagers to older adults and one team included a father-son combo. Some of the costumes were really-well done considering they were made from cardboard. Some of them included viking hats, giant swords, an anchor and even a deep sea diver helmet.

With the battle about to begin, chatter amongst the large crowd came to a halt when a commentator’s voice encompassed the ring: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Welcome to the 100th inaugural Canberra to Canberra yacht race!” said Richard ‘Dicko’ Keenan.

The crowd counted down the battle and then it was on: all of the cardboard-clad warriors charged into the middle for a free-for-all frenzy.

The next five minutes consisted of flying remnants of cardboard equipment and props, plenty of cheering and yelling and hilarious remarks from the commentator Dicko, who even compared one bald contestant to Peter Garrett throughout.

Another Enlighten event was running a hundred-or-so metres away but most people chose to watch the indiscernible ball of cardboard mayhem. It looked like a couple of bruises and maybe a paper-cut or two were dealt in the bout, but overall it was just a fun and lighthearted brawl.

After the pace of the battle slowed down and the cardboard scraps were being used as weapons it was declared that all of the warriors were winners in

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their own right. Even after the commentating and cheering stopped, the family atmosphere continued.

Young kids ran into the pile of scrapped cardboard looking for anything to salvage and use to play with their parents or friends.


Elliot Stenson was one of the participants and seemed like he still had adrenaline flowing through him a good 15 minutes after.

“Out of 10 I’d give the experience a strong eight, and I’m a hard marker! Things got a bit crazy for me because I dropped my cutlass in the beginning and only found it again at the very end so I had no weapon for most of it.”

One of the crew from Boxwars, Ross Koger, also battled and was really happy with the crowd turnout for their first time in the capital.

“You know it never gets old. When you’re in there it’s like being a kid and destroying Lego all over again. Every aspect of Boxwars takes the little kid out of you.”

Those who missed out on partaking in Boxwars will probably get another chance soon.

“We’d love to do it again in Canberra, next time it would be on an even bigger scale,” Koger said.

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