Throngs of fans are expected to come out to the Thunderdome and cheer for the fighters and ring girls in Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity’s 15th annual Fight Night on Friday, April 28.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow for the event and cost $7 for general admission and $12 for ringside seats. Roughly 4,500 people attended the event last year, which is comprised of amateur boxers from all over Southern California. This year’s Fight Night will highlight matches featuring more fraternity members than ever before, including members of PIKE and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, PIKE member Dave Bodney said.
Fight Night coordinator Artemio Madrigal, a third-year law & society major, said the money raised during the event goes to the Say Yes to Kids Foundation, an after-school boxing program that keeps at-risk youth off the streets. Last year, PIKE raised around $25,000, and hopes to rake in as much money for this year’s event.
“All the money that we raise after the expenses are paid goes straight to the charity,” Madrigal said.
Madrigal said Fight Night has not always been such a large event on campus. The first Fight Night was held in PIKE’s backyard, and was later moved to UCSB’s Robertson Gymnasium. Three years ago, PIKE began hosting the event in the Thunderdome.
Bodney, a Santa Barbara City College student, is in charge of recruiting amateur boxers to fight in the event. He said he thinks Fight Night is successful because it is an entertaining event that only happens once a year.
“It’s something to do that isn’t always there,” Bodney said. “You can go to DP every Friday night and know what to expect. You can’t always go to a big event like this, except for one time a year.”
Kevin Barger, a recent UCSB graduate and PIKE alumnus, has won the main event for three years in a row and said he hopes to continue his winning streak next Friday, when he faces Sam Himmilstine of the Los Angeles area.
Bodney said Barger’s ranking would make for an interesting match.
“We’ve had a really tough time trying to find someone to fight him,” Bodney said. “Last year, he beat a guy who had 48 pounds on him. It will probably be one of the best amateur boxing matches you will see anywhere in Southern California.”
In the past, Fight Night has found itself in some controversy. Last year, Associated Students Finance Board cut back its original allocation of funds to PIKE, saying the event promoted sexual discrimination because it featured scantily clad ring girls. Ring girls for the event were then subjected to dress code guidelines, which were set by the university.
Madrigal said the days of explicit behavior on the part of the ring girls are gone.
“Basically, they are going to be like regular ring girls at a regular boxing match,” Madrigal said.
A “Girl Fight” was included in last year’s event, but PIKE was unable to find a willing competitor for this time around.
“Shoving girls in the ring and watching them beat the crap out of each other was good for the crowd,” Madrigal said.