With suspensions lifted, the annual Fight Night boxing expo returned with its traditional host and female presenters this past weekend, boasting a crowd of over 1,000 spectators.
Amid protests and punches, the Thunderdome played host to Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity’s 17th Annual Fight Night. With seven bouts of three 90-second rounds each, attendees were treated to a lineup of boxing matches and the return of the controversial Ring Girls, as well as a group of sign-wielding demonstrators. Proceeds from the event will go to the Primo Boxing Club, Inc.’s Say Yes to Kids Foundation, which provides after -school activities for Santa Barbara youth.
Fight Night coordinator and fourth-year business economics major Tyler Stauss said the event was taken away from PIKE last year after university administrators had found the fraternity guilty of risk management violations, primarily spray painting other fraternities.
During the event, seven students held up a banner that read “Sexism + Violence = Fight Night.” According to a security guard, the protesters were promptly removed from the event for obstructing the views of paying audience members. As the protesters were removed, Fight Night emcee Frank DeBernardo announced, “And now, for some more sexism and violence on the behalf of charity.”
However, Monica Sanchez, mother of a UCSB student, said the protesters did not disrupt her view. Sanchez and her daughter were the only two audience members located behind the protesters.
“I was wondering why they were asked to leave,” Sanchez said. “They were not bothering me at all and we were standing in the back of the crowd.”
Sara Matthiesen, a fourth-year psychology major and demonstrator, said she was protesting the tournament because it associates the violence of boxing with sex.
“I don’t support any event that so blatantly normalizes men as violent and aggressive and women as sexualized and submissive,” Matthiesen said. “We are here protesting any student funding that supports sexualized violence.”
Meanwhile, Ring Girl McKaela Line, a second-year psychology major and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, said she was impressed by the overall organization of the event.
“This event is impressive for a frat philanthropy,” Line said. “The boys were very nice to us and organized and it was really exciting. … All our friends were in the audience cheering.”
Ring Girl coordinator and fourth-year business economics major Steve Zad said his goal this year was to change the image of Fight Night by showcasing ring girls – the subject of much controversy in previous years – in a different fashion.
“The girls are dressed up in dresses this year and were able to wear whatever they felt comfortable in,” Zad said. “They are all friends of the house and we even picked them up in a limousine. … We were trying to make them feel like movie stars.”
As for the action inside the ring, the first bout of the evening ended quickly in a total knockout. Fighter Adam Goldsmith, a 21-year-old boxer, said he knocked out his opponent with a few well-placed jabs.
“Obviously, I was a little bit nervous being the first fighter out there,” Goldsmith said. “I ended up abandoning my technique and went to brawling. … Luckily, I landed a good one.”