Boxing and Ring Card Girls—Time to Move On?

By Marc Livitz on February 1, 2018
Boxing and Ring Card Girls—Time to Move On?
Ring card girls are often subjected to cat calls and lowbrow insults. (John Locher/AP)

Perhaps it’s worth asking if boxing is ready to move on from the outright objectification of females within the promotional aspects of the sport…

Whether we choose to admit it or not, boxing in terms of fan support is very much on the periphery of mainstream sports. It’s been called a fringe sport by some and of course, there are those who are drawn to focus on the ring exploits of but a few choice names. It’s hard to tell exactly where professional prize fighting ranks in the world. The Americas and certainly parts of Europe as well of Asia have produced fine talent over the years, but boxing has nowhere near the popularity of football (soccer), cricket or Formula 1 racing. This summer’s World Cup, which is to be held in Russia, the land of this writer’s family heritage, will only help to cement the place of what Pele once called “The Beautiful Game.”

One thing, if it is to be called as such that many of the aforementioned sports have in common is women, and by that the meaning isn’t to be taken in the sense of participation. We’re not talking about women’s soccer or basketball. Rather, the use of women as advertising tools or essentially and more to the point, objects. Whether we like it or not and whether the reader at this moment is male or female and for the purposes of this article, the use of women in boxing can often be called nothing more than objectification at its finest….or poorest.

Combat sports in general have used women for the goal of selling more tickets, gaining more viewers, selling more drinks and merchandise and so on. A few years ago, this writer got the idea that enough was basically enough when the popular voice of UFC, Joe Rogan, referred to one of the company’s ring (or octagon) card girls as a “professional hot chick” prior to a weigh-in.

Full stop. One can do as they please with their time, money and being. Who are we to criticize in any way? Through all of this presented argument, it can only be hoped that the reader will take this justified question in the spirit in which it’s asked.

On Wednesday, sports outlets announced that Formula 1 would no longer use “Grid Girls,” the women who hold up placards with the respective names of drivers posted upon them. According to the company’s new owners, the use of women in such a fashion doesn’t represent the direction they wish to take. So, beginning with The Australian Grand Prix in March, Grid Girls will no longer be present.

Women are a minority. There’s still status inconsistencies within the workplace and it’s well known that females at times have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts. The United States was close to having its first female President. Of course, various members of both respective genders have the understanding that their appearance can help get a leg in the door, so to speak. However, the window of time is usually short and one simply cannot be a “professional hot chick” or underwear model forever. In addition and with the overwhelming majority of boxing fans being male, ring card girls are often subjected to cat calls, various forms of ogling and lowbrow insults. Women journalists, photographers and the like have probably at one time or another been harassed by men within the industry at some level.

In all fairness, much of this isn’t going to change in terms of how women are presented in boxing in particular. Tiny outfits and a perpetual smile is what we’ve become accustomed to seeing at weigh-ins, pre-fight time, in between rounds and post-fight pressers. We know of them all too well. The Corona Girls. The Tecate Girls. The ‘Knockouts.’ In a way and for the sake of presentation, it makes sense. It neither stops nor begins with sports. Think about it. Your computer has a virus or it has crashed. Some of us would feel more comfortable leaving our system with a knowledgeable, spectacled male who likely has all of the Star Trek movies memorized. If the staff at locales such as Hooters were hired strictly based on their intellect and not their ability to squeeze into a small pair of shorts, then would such places stay in business for very long?

With all due respect, this writer offers apologies if necessary and assures readers that the viewpoint currently taken is from an individual who was raised in large part by two women. So, perhaps it’s worth asking if boxing is ready to move on from the outright objectification of females within the promotional aspects of the sport. Formula 1 has decided to do so.

There will be those who take issue with such suggestions and sadly, some haven’t evolved past using their knuckles for purposes of walking. There are female writers throughout the boxing landscape as well as on this very website who likely want nothing more than to work hard within the field and ultimately be seen as equals. Some of us are still waiting for certain aspects of life to simply move into the 20th century well before they can move on to the 21st.

Keep your mind open. Now, speak it. Remember, if you will the words of the late, great Tupac Shakur and his early 90’s hit, “Keep Ya Head Up.” Said the legendary rapper, “and since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman and our game from a woman.”

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  1. James 09:25am, 09/24/2018

    Woman are free to do whatever they want. I don’t know why they have to be criticised.

  2. Napo 09:05am, 08/29/2018

    Of course you are correct Hannah about women’s choices—just as men here that choice! I don’t mean to knock anyone for a job or even aspiring to a job as say a dancer in a club. Great! Use what you have! I don’t mind beautiful women anywhere;  but I don’t watch boxing for anything but the greatness of the sport and it’s brave athletes ...that’s my only point.

  3. Hannah 07:25am, 08/29/2018

    Woman are free to work in any environment they want even if is wearing shorts and holding up a card. They shouldn’t be treated like something less just because of it.

  4. Bruce Kielty 12:25pm, 02/09/2018

    I think that we should accommodate the author by having all ring card females (I will avoid calling them girls so not to offend) in full Muslim garb.  All boxers will also be required to wear lavender trunks and high heels.  The 3-knockdown rule will be waived due to the high heels causing more inadvertent falls.

  5. DamianKowalski 12:46am, 02/08/2018

    ohh stop..everybody still still talking abutt politian corectness but meanwhile,as a friend talk upon-  women want to have attention i all her steps. It like atural rules…you know they show us their ample bosom and yell “dot star at my breasts!” . If they do nothing that we haven`t to staring at their charms…we ouldn`t do anything :D

  6. Napo Jemison 01:56am, 02/06/2018

    Bravo article, I’ve been thinking of beer company and boxing’s archaic, unneeded objectification of young women is ridiculous and way too sexist. And if any fans are into the sport for that, time to lose ‘em.  Let’s encourage women to be involved in this great sport, yes, as promoters, trainers, and management and commission staff! Intelligent women will only further the sport’s image professionally and hopefully expand it’s appeal,

  7. Pete The Sneak 10:45am, 02/03/2018

    Koolz, simple indeed. I think you nailed it! Now, if we can just get Marc Livitz on board,  us getting together for a strip club visit may very well be in the cards (no pun intended)...Peace.

  8. The Beast of Bodmin 08:28am, 02/03/2018

    I think the main distinction to be made between Trump / Mayweather comments and respecting women is essentially the difference between looking and groping. It’s perfectly possible for a man to enjoy looking at an attractive women without thinking he is entitled to go over and sexually assault her. It might even give him some inspiration next time he is bed with his frumpy wife.
    As for cheerleaders / ring girls etc, It’s just an example of the advertising and promotion industry. If someone wants to do it for a job and it’s legal, then who am I or anyone else to demand that it’s banned.
    I think the word must mean something different in the States but to me, being liberal means accepting the world doesn’t march to the beat of my drum, and within reason, letting people do what they want while not necessarily liking/understanding or supporting it.
    The ultra PC brigade that claim to be liberal while wanting everything that doesn’t fit their worldview banned are the exact opposite of liberal. I think of them more as left-wing fascists.

  9. Koolz 06:46pm, 02/02/2018

    It’s quiet simple.  Women want to look beautiful and attractive and love the attention.
    Men love to look at Beautiful women and give them attention.
    It’s never going away it’s never going to stop it’s Human Attraction Psychology.
    Ring Girls, Cheerleaders, all of it needs to stay and will stay because of the very simple rule of Male Female Attraction.
    Men like to Look, Women like it when there being looked at.

    Feminists are girls that could never get laid when they were in college.

  10. Marc LIvitz 03:56pm, 02/02/2018

    Pete! You’re killin’ me! Ha! Hope I didn’t break your heart ala’ Freddie Corleone. Just presented an idea because of what I heard on the news on Wednesday morning with F1. I can’t imagine a world without the RGC’s! Peace back your way & as always, thanks for the kind words, amigo!

  11. Pete The Sneak 09:58am, 02/02/2018

    Marc, you broke my heart man. Eliminate the Ring Girls? There are so many things in Boxing that should be eliminated (Compubox, Blind Judges, much too early weigh ins, shill announcing, etc.), but no man, not my Corona and Tecate Girls. Dude, it’s part of the boxing business and the girls are for the most part well compensated (unlike a lot of NFL cheerleaders) and they bring some much needed eye relief to a pretty rough, tough, sweaty, smelly sport. So they get some cat calls when they enter the ring with their round cards, so what. They can get that simply by walking past a construction site, and not make a penny.  If that makes me a knuckledragger, then let the sidewalk scrape away. You broke my heart man, you broke my heart…Peace.

  12. Koolz 03:46am, 02/02/2018

    I miss Playboy and women in Thongs.  I love how Russia does it! 
    Mexico also very good and the Playboy Bus!  Playboy in Mexico!

  13. Sonny Illiano 06:16pm, 02/01/2018

    So by this logic we just need to eliminate cheerleaders from sports, no more models or project runway shows. Almost all Ring Card girls are models more the just Ring Cards. I have never met one person who bought tickets to fight for the Ring card girls. Very disappointed in why your never my first choice for boxing news

  14. LOL 05:24pm, 02/01/2018

    So, all journalists are left wing whack jobs. Never thought I would see a boxing journalist bend over. You know whats funny, the F1 girls are pissed as hell. That got a nice job in a unique setting that paid well. The ring card girls make great money and they have fun. Perhaps you support ugly liberal women who don’t know what gender they favor, Maybe it’s nobodies damn business but the women who work as ring card girIs, it sure TF isn’t the business of liberal broads who can’t get a date or the gay men that support the cause because that’s the only way they fit in. I imagine you wear a pink hat and carry around a sign that says “This pussy has teeth so try to grab it.”  Knuckle dragger you will call me, yet I support a number of FEMININE causes, but not femi nazis. They tend to be ugly hairy and angry, Keep this liberal bias out of boxing.

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