Sacked ring girls bounce back after sexism row

 

Three boxing ring girls have been sacked and replaced by blokes after a sexism row at the fight between Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa in Bendigo.

The women have beem replaced at tonight's bout with men, dubbed "fight progress managers".

But fans have been less than impressed, with sustained booing of the sheepish male replacement.

The axing of the ring girls came after women's advocates and a Bendigo councillor claimed they were being exploited and used as "trophy women".

Replacement Tim Bills with Tammy Bills, Demey Maconachie and Kalista Thomas. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Replacement Tim Bills with Tammy Bills, Demey Maconachie and Kalista Thomas. Picture: Tim Carrafa

The promoter, Dean Lonergan, is furious at the "age of outrage" and being publicly accused of objectifying women.

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"Who are they to judge what employment these women have? Do they know what they do with their lives day-to-day? All these women actually do a lot for women's empowerment."

But after two hours of sitting ringside while card boy Tim Bills did the work, Mr Lonergan said the crowd reaction saw the women make a popular return.

There was sustained cheering as 23-year-old Kalista Thomas picked up her placard for Round 3.

Mr Lonergan said the decision was a vote for common sense over extreme political correctness.

``Round card girls have been a fixture at boxing for decades and to condemn them not only was doing three girls out of a job but it was really annoying the crowd who treated the girls with the utmost respect.''

The ring girls brief ban came after the intervention of women's advocates and a local councillor who slammed the use of them as"an outdated and misogynistic concept".

Mr Lonergan was also angry neither he or the women had been approached by the "PC Brigade" with their concerns.

"I am disappointed, but I am also responsive. I will replace the three women who were employed to signal the start of each round with men," Mr Lonergan said.

"Ironically four women will be fighting tonight and wearing less clothing than those women I have now had to replace with men in response to these protests."

MIchael Zerafa and Jeff Horn face off ahead of the big fight.
MIchael Zerafa and Jeff Horn face off ahead of the big fight.

"They have denied three women the opportunity to do the job they applied for. They are intelligent women. Their freedom to work in an environment that they choose and enjoy doing has been completely undermined. These protests are an attack on them."

He would even drop the use of the term 'ring girl'.

"To further minimise protests the term 'ring girl' will not be used. These roles will now be known as 'fight progress managers'."

He told the Sunday Herald Sun there was a lack of understanding of what the ring girls actually were employed to do.

Ms Thomas, said she felt discriminated against because her work had been undermined and "sexualised".

"Never in my time 'in the ring' or 'at the fights' have I been made to feel I am less worthy for being there."

The Bendigo beautician said she had always been shown the "most utter respect" from everyone from the boxers to the audience.

Another, Demey Maconachie, 23, is a fitness coach who uses her classes to train women to be "confident and empowered".

Tim Bills, 24, is one of the 'fight progress managers" and the brother of Tammy Bills, the third women who lost her job.

He said he was "disgusted" he could go on stage in a bodybuilding competition in nothing but a g-string and no one was concerned, but his sister was prevented from doing a job when she would have been "way more covered" than himself.

"I think it's pretty rough, this helps pay for their university studies and it's an honest living."



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