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Fighter: Being ring card girl is empowering

Kristie Raby: "My advice to women would always be if you want to do something, just go and do it. Whether it’s being a ring girl, fighting, or doing any other type of sport or job."
Kristie Raby

Formula One recently announced the end of the decades-old practice of employing women for promotional tasks like holding driver name boards before each race. Then the Women's Sport Trust, a UK charity focused on using the power of sport to accelerate gender equality, called on the UFC to drop Octagon girls.

However, Kristie Raby has an alternative perspective. The Wales-based Raby, 26, is a mental health support worker, has worked as ring card girl at 100+ shows across the United Kingdom for five years, and is a Tatami-sponsored BJJ player who competes across the planet. She trains six or seven days a week, often with the same men and women she carries a ring card for.

“People don’t see it like I do," she said to Tyler Mears for Wales Online. “I see both sides – in the ring and outside the ring. Not once have I been put in a position where I have been groped or felt like a piece of meat. I don’t find it demeaning at all. If I thought it was demeaning I wouldn’t do it.”

“The fact that these critics think that we are only there to ‘cheer the men on that do the sport’, while I’m there to support the guys that I also train with six days a week – well that just proves them wrong. I’m passionate about fighting all round."

"Some people only see what they see on the night of the fight but I see behind the scenes. I know what it’s like being a competitor myself – the commitment and the physical and mental strength it takes to even get in to the ring or the cage. That’s why I respect anyone that does, whether that’s for jiu-jitsu, boxing, mixed martial arts, or even as a ring girl.”

“It all started when I attended a couple of women’s MMA fit classes. I asked the instructor about being a ring girl and it went from there. I have been lucky enough to work on so many shows and I’ve worked alongside some amazing promoters. I’ve built up a great relationship with loads of people and made some great friends along the way."

“It’s a buzz. It’s exciting and fun and I absolutely love doing it. I think it’s empowering. It gives women an inner confidence. For some women it’s even a way of expressing themselves or a way of being involved in the sport, even if they don’t actually do the sport themselves.”

“For me it’s just amazing to be a part of the sport working as a ring girl as well as being an athlete competing within it. I can be a ring girl on the Saturday and for the rest of the week I’m in the gym and on the mats with the same guys, training and helping them prepare for their next fight. I definitely think I bust the stereotypes open. I do both, so how is that demeaning?"

"My advice to women would always be if you want to do something, just go and do it. Whether it’s being a ring girl, fighting, or doing any other type of sport or job. The world is hard enough as it is without people judging you and what you decide to do. Just go and do it, I say.”