Ring-Card Girls. Three small words. But stand by for big arguments when they’re mentioned in conversation between men and women.
Adam Welsh is a British-based Human Resources Manager with a keen interest in many sports, including boxing. You may have seen him commenting here on The Glowing Edge.
He recently asked me what I thought about ring card girls (he’s asked lots of thoughtful and interesting questions), and as a result he not only sparked a number of offline conversations about the subject, but he also quickly responded when I invited him to write up his unique observations for posting here.
I’ve also posted my own thoughts down below…
You first, Adam. What do you think about ring card girls?
Most guys (including me) have the hots for those high-heeled, scantily-clad ladies who strut their stuff between rounds at pro boxing shows, holding aloft a card showing the number of the next stanza.
When it comes to keeping their customers satisfied, of course, promoters are influenced by a basic gender consideration: boxing crowds are predominantly male.
Male hormones and boring fights
Your average Joe Six-Pack expects three Bs when he attends a fight night: Boxing, Beer and Babes. And there’s no shortage of models, dancers and wannabes prepared to dress skimpily and duck through the ropes every three minutes.
People who watch boxing on television may not realize that a full bill of bouts contains many instantly forgettable fights. To counter boredom, promoters use the card-girls to add spectacle and maintain interest. Yep, that’s how shallow many guys are.
The card-girls are such an established feature now that it would be hard to imagine a show without them.
Women, sexuality, and violence
But some women get annoyed and offended by a spectacle they consider sexist, degrading and juvenile.
“Typical male fantasy-gratification” was the reaction of a woman I know who stopped going to fight nights because the atmosphere created every three minutes made her feel uncomfortable.
Other women think it’s not appropriate for the brutality of the boxing ring to be glamourised in this way. They feel uneasy about the link between violence and sex appeal.
Boxing show or strip club?
One innovation that probably alienated many women in the 1990s was the regular “Miss Ringsider” contest at Budweiser-sponsored promotions in the Great Western Forum, CA. Wearing high-cut one-piece swimsuits, the girls lined up in the ring and paraded one by one to compete for cash prizes, decided by the fans’ votes.
Mind you, that was nothing compared to a promotion I attended in London about ten years ago, which had me asking “Is this a boxing show or a strip club?”
Two card girls wore the tiniest bikinis I’ve ever seen – three postage stamps held together with spaghetti-thin string – and the noise between rounds was deafening. Some of the comments directed at the girls were unrepeatable, and the atmosphere was unpleasant and embarrassing, especially for the small number of female fans present.
The promoter rightly received a warning from the British Boxing Board of Control.
Ring card girls at women‘s fights
In particular, the sight of card-girls during women’s bouts has been called “disrespectful” to the female fighters. An article in The Ring magazine a few years ago called for promoters to drop card-girls from women’s contests.
But do female boxers, locked in intense physical combat, take the slightest notice of the inter-round entertainment?
I’m not aware of any objections raised by women boxers (tell me if I’m wrong). You could argue, in fact, that the fleeting, superficial appearance of the glamour girls serves to highlight the integrity and authenticity of the female fighters.
Here to stay?
As long as the audiences at fight nights are predominantly male, ring-card girls are likely to remain a fixture.
No doubt the growing number of women spectators will continue to roll their eyes at the immaturity of their men-folk. And discuss among themselves – if they can hear anything over the din – how the latest vision of loveliness to pose and pout around the ring could possibly be comfortable in that one-piece mini-dress which looks like it was painted on.
Ok, Lisa’s turn.
Adam, you nailed it in one: mostly the women boxers’ conversations revolve around how teeny the outfits are and how wobbly they must feel trying to navigate on a padded surface in their 13-inch lucite heels.
And in a rather odd turn-about, at one of my fights the promoter put in “ring card guys” — which sounded pretty damn good to me at first, but then I realized it was intended as a joke. They were goofy-dressed dudes who hammed up their caricatures of female ring card girls. I rolled my eyes and had absolutely no interest, although it’s possible the crowd got into it.
And no, I don’t (personally) mind too much that the whole Miss Stripper America thing goes on between rounds. I believe it’s there for the same reasons you already mentioned.
Catching the most fish
And I finally decided that all male-dominated sports (and other entertainments like movies, etc.) that include female eye candy in one form or another do so for one big fat reason above all.
And that is to widen the net.
In other words, promoters and publishers and directors and so on are working hard to capture as many ticket-purchasers as they possibly can.
For men who aren’t rabid boxing fans, they offer a walking centerfold fantasy girl between every round in order to “sweeten the deal” and secure the purchase.
Here’s an alternative to Ring Card Girls…
I love women’s roller derby. We have an incredible team here called the Carolina Rollergirls.
If I weren’t boxing, I would definitely go out for this team. These women are incredibly tough, very skilled at their sport (which is fairly complex), and they know how to have a great time and put on a phenomenal show.
Just like in boxing, you can sit right up next to the track, but in derby, if there’s a spectacular wipeout — and there are plenty — you can revel in the thrill of possibly getting injured yourself as a tangle of helmeted women come flying at extremely high speed in your direction. Believe me, derby gets pretty involved.
They serve beer at the roller derby. A game lasts about an hour and a half. And between jams (about the equivalent of a boxing round) there’s plenty of action. The jammers are the superstars of the derby, and crowds love a great blocker, but absolutely everyone on the track (up to 5 per team) has a major role to play.
Commentators keep the crowd involved, especially by explaining some of the complexities of roller derby play and scoring. They also lighten the mood with funny comments about each of the players, their habits (bad and good), naming (roller derby names are way more fun than ring names), and tactics (dirty and fair).
The Carolina Rollergirls mascot, Evil Ed, is a (fully dressed) blood-splattered skating skeleton who also keeps things lively.
There are giveaways, raffles, charity events, music, antics, and any number of entertaining things that happen between bouts (halves) of the game, and after the game the players are frequently available to chat, sign autographs, and get to know the fans.
The audience is about equally split between male and female, and despite the sometimes serious and potentially damaging nature of the sport, it’s also incredibly family-friendly. That’s two of my boys at a Carolina Rollergirls game. (I didn’t let them get any closer to the track than that!)
I love boxing. Love it. But derby has figured out so many things that boxing has missed.
We may never see roller derby selling high-dollar tickets and winning a mass audience. But if that’s the case, maybe it’s better to be on the fringe.
Okay, everybody. Your turn to chime in!
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