Grid girls and auto-show models might be outdated, but the mixed martial arts industry is about to introduce ring boys in a step toward equal opportunity objectification.
Canadian UFC fighter Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou is about to make history as the first ring boy that MMA has ever seen. Making his professional debut at the Invicta Fighting Championships, an event for the all-female league, he told Ariel Helwani from The MMA Hour that it’s his contribution to the equality of the sport.
“Mixed martial arts has been in the forefront of equality, in many different ways,” Theodorou explained, “as you can see, in regards to women being on top of the pay-per-views and selling millions. And also now, myself included as the first ring boy.”
Interested in doing something new instead of getting “hit in the head forever,” the 29-year-old believes the new job will be lucrative, considering he’ll be the first to tap into it. After fighting for the UFC, which doesn’t allow fighters to wear individual sponsorships on their shorts during main events, Theodorou was eager to explain the branding opportunities — with companies such as Mattel and Samsung — that will come with being “Mr. Ring Boy.”
Theodorou also just recently posted his first video on YouTube, where he’ll be bringing audiences along with him during these different adventures. The channel, appropriately named “The Mane Event,” in reference to his notable hair, already features a video of his first go as Ring Boy at a local women’s fight at the Montreal Fight League.
After getting coached by professional ring girl Mary Pearl, Theodorou is seen stepping into the ring for the first time in his new role, and then telling the camera how nerve-racking the experience was.
“Entering the cage as a ring boy was actually more nerve-racking than my last fight,” he says. “And it’s crazy to say, but I think a lot of that has to do with my concern about what other people think. Obviously being a guy and walking into a very female-dominated occupation, if you will, there’s many aspects of, I was just so concerned with what other people think.”
Watching Theodorou gain experience outside of his comfort zone hopefully will bring some important changes to gender-specific sports and shed light on different opportunities that these platforms provide.
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