Bully Tuli makes a good fist of a strong punch line

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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The gloves, they say, often come off in negotiations between suppliers and retailers. But if the supplier happens to be Agatha Paris’s Global Head of Travel Retail Karan Tuli, you better look out if the gloves go on.

Word reaches us that Karan (third from left in top row above), a delightful young man quickly forging a successful career in travel retail (and son of industry veteran Sunil) is also a pretty dab hand in the boxing ring. In fact make that two dab hands.

This month Karan fought in an evening of so-called White Collar Boxing at the Intercontinental Ballroom in Hong Kong (same venue as last year’s Trinity Forum and almost as combative). What’s White Collar Boxing? Well it’s certainly not a reference to what the combatants wear – they are clad only in traditional boxing shoes, shorts, headgear and gloves – but denotes that most of the participants come from white collar professions.

It’s turned out to be a surprisingly fast-growing sport for men and women between 25 and 55 (which counts me out in case any reader feels tempted to issue a challenge) who want to test themselves (and an opponent) in a ‘controlled’ boxing environment. With a strong emphasis on safety, boxers are professionally trained over a 12-week programme to participate in a three-round bout sanctioned tournament held in a black tie dinner or arena-style format.

The focus might be on safety, the tournaments sanctioned, the environment controlled – but make no mistake this is still boxing. In which, I remind, you, men and women attempt to beat the hell out of each other. It takes real courage to step into a boxing ring, as evidenced by the stirring bravery of countless pugilists down the years, none more so than the incomparable Muhammad Ali, the greatest sportsman of all.

So how did Karan (who, in a nod to his citizenship, university education there and his Mum’s love of the All Blacks rugby team, boxed representing New Zealand) fare? Would he suffer the fate of great American comic Bob Hope who once said, “I was called ‘Rembrandt’ Hope in my boxing days because I spent so much time on the canvas”? [By the way, no-one laughed at that joke, maybe because he was a stand-up comedian].

Not at all. As the pictures and video below prove, Tuli the younger turned out to be a Singaporean Kiwi rather than Dutch master – and this time of the ring. Fighting as ‘Bully Tuli’ and backed by the raucous support of his wife Jesreen (pictured below), family and friends, the young professional put on a superb showing (Tuli outstanding in fact… sorry about that but every good boxing story needs a strong punch line), winning by a unanimous decision in three rounds.

What’s more he did it for a great cause, raising money for The Children’s Surgical Centre, which provides a range of specialised rehabilitation surgical services, medical training, and direct support to the needy in Cambodia.

I don’t know of any other boxers in travel retail*** (though Cognac Prunier’s Clive Carpenter’s late father Harry – “Know what I mean ‘Arry?” – was the greatest boxing commentator of them all), so I guess that makes Karan the industry’s undisputed champion of the world. I for one won’t be challenging him anytime soon.

So, a note to all buyers. Next time you meet Karan, negotiate the cost of jewellery (but not the ring) and other accessories (but not the gloves) by all means. But do not, I warn you, fight for the belt.

***Footnote: I stand corrected. Take a bow Jerome Lizambard of DFS Group who fought on the same night (scroll down to the foot of the page for Jerome’s comments). Another brave soul.

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  • Hi Martin, nice article, but Karan wasn’t the only travel retail representative that night, for I stepped into the ring as well, representing DFS (and with some heavyweights from the company in the room in support…). I’m the bald guy on the front row in the poster, we met a couple of times in Hawaii or Macau (not sure if you remember me). But unlike Karan, I did not win…