Promoters of Saturday night's Battle of Bendigo boxing show featuring Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa have replaced ring card women with men, after coming under fire from local councillors and women's advocate groups.
City of Greater Bendigo councillors Yvonne Wrigglesworth and Jennifer Alden were critical of the between-rounds custom which has been part of boxing for decades.
Wrigglesworth said women were being objectified in events like The Battle of Bendigo and Alden said stereotypes of this nature was not respectful of women.
Event co-promoter Dean Lonergan said he was disappointed with the criticism and had replaced the three women with males, who would be referred to as 'fight progress managers'.
Ring Girls have been axed from tonight’s #HornZerafa and replaced with Fight Progress Managers. First up @abcgrandstand commentator @CorbinMiddlemas and he did a sensational job. Full fight preview tonight @7NewsBrisbane pic.twitter.com/n65MG3P2Z7
— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) August 31, 2019
He said the three women would still be paid and their replacements had been found by his co-promoter, Bendigo resident and Australian 1996 Olympic boxing representative Lynden Hosking.
"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," Lonergan said.
"As a result of their outcry and concern from sponsors about these uninformed media comments from an organisation that have never raised their concerns with me, shows their agenda is more about headlines than equal opportunity.
"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."
Ring girl slams ‘discriminatory’ decision
One of the replaced women, Kalista Thomas, objected to some of the criticism.
"To undermine my work as a ring card and call it sexualised I feel is absolutely discriminatory," Thomas said.
"Never in my time in the ring or at the fights have I been made to feel less worthy for being there."
Fans and pundits are also less than impressed with the decision.
What a joke
— jye mcfarlane (@JyeMcfarlane) August 31, 2019
This makes my blood boil😡 What’s the world coming to!!!
— Rhino79 (@Reggiejets) August 31, 2019
Political correctness gone mad getting bloody ridiculous now 🙄🤦♂️
— luke condick (@luke_pies) August 31, 2019
— Brent Read (@brentread_7) August 31, 2019
Is that serious??no ring girl 👧
— peter nosworthy (@pnoz65) August 31, 2019